Is it the right time to do business around Open Data? is a question I’m being asked quite often. Any kind of new trends create an uncertainty when it is related to invest time and money. I have no crystall ball but it is quite easy to notice the growing interests from many parties.
Open Data and Public Services
Look at Guardian search results for “open data” string. 110 matches including 7 matches in September 2010. The Guardian has even a blog dedicated to Data. In a recent article, they outlined the money spent on their Website redesign:
A lot of this money could be beneficial for the transparency towards citizens. It would enable developers to create applications with these data. For example, Manchester city has released the data for the bus timetables. In France, there is a rising movement about Open Data too. In August 2010, a map has been created with the list of cities having already open their data, and those planning to.
In Montréal, an organization, Montreal Ouvert, has been created for lobbying at Montreal city hall the benefits of open data. (A report of their first public meeting). Looking at the articles published on the Postmedia Networks, we can notice also a rise of mentions of Open Data.
Open Data and Business
Orange the French Telecommunications Company has published a report (pdf) recently about Open Data. Orange notes that even if private companies have still difficulties to understand the values of giving access to the data, the idea is not totally foreign with the rise of APIs.
En ouvrant gratuitement des API elles peuvent créer autour d’elles un écosystème de services qui leur procure un retour sur investissement notable. Amazon fut le premier à comprendre cela : dès 2005, le e-vendeur ouvrait l’accès à sa base de données de produits culturels, autorisant une multitude de services marchands ou non – du vendeur multi enseigne à l’amateur de polar – à « taper » dans sa base gracieusement. Cette approche a depuis fait de nombreux émules.
In addition, to the examples given by Orange, I would add companies like BestBuy which recently created a real business strategy, Best Buy Remix, around the data contained in their catalog.
What are the benefits?
- Create a richer online data ecosystem
- Make it possible for the brand to live outside of its own domain name property
- Give the opportunity of richer visualization of these data.
- Give the opportunity for people to develop commercial (or not) applications helping/driving users to order tickets or use more the service.
- Enable a better transparency and then trust.
Open data is a platform for business. Do not miss it.