Why the Future of Your Business Could Rely on Open Data

by Carmen Apostu
Blog Post

The amount of data created on a daily basis is staggering.

In fact, studies show that 90% of all recorded information was created in the last 24 months, and it’s only getting faster. That means all recorded history from ancient civilizations all the way through both Bush Presidencies accounts for less than 10% of everything we now collectively know.

That’s big data and you might already know about it, but this article is about something that is growing just as fast open data.

Open data is essentially the portion of all that recorded information that is open and easily accessible (or machine readable) to anyone who cares to use it. While the vast amount of data isn’t open, what is available is said to be worth over $3 Trillion a year.

Open Data: A piece of content or data that is free to use, reuse and redistribute. (Read more about the definition of open data here.)

Tapping into this free source requires using the data available to build all types of digital solutions that solve problems otherwise unsolvable.

In other words, innovation.

It’s There for the Taking

In 2013, the President signed an open data initiative that was created to share government data in the hopes that businesses and entrepreneurs would use it to create innovative solutions for problems in a myriad of sectors.

Several cities, states, and other countries have also made it easy to access data. One of the foremost examples has been New York City. They’ve released data that startups and businesses have used to create applications that improve the lives of other New Yorkers, most prominently dealing with traffic.

It’s not only government data that’s available, either. Other businesses have jumped on board to share data that can be used to develop solutions to problems that haven’t even been articulated yet.

The truth is that since it is by its very nature “open”, this data will be used to gain invaluable insights into the behaviors of potential buyers.

Here’s an image that points out many of the places data is becoming readily available:

What types of open government data are in demand?

It’s Useful for Any Industry

The information available is great for new businesses, but can also be used by existing companies in a wide range of industries. Developing new software based on open data is a great way to add revenue streams.

While open data has untold benefits, there are some very tangible ways your business can use it to start and grow. Here are a few different industries where technology with shared data are being used to disrupt and change the world.

Health Care

The medical industry has possibly the greatest opportunity for innovation, and open data has made it easy for developers to figure out more efficient ways to track patient data, lower the number of mistakes, save time and money of both patients and doctors.

Not to mention the health benefits in long-term tracking of vital metrics to help physicians diagnose patients with more accuracy.

Open Angle: Open data can be used in a number of ways to detect problems in the medical industry from communication, data entry, and relations between doctors/patients/insurance.

Business Benefit: SaaS and other applications are both incredibly lucrative and highly sought after to help alleviate tedious processes and long wait times.

Social Benefit: Health data that is made available in real time to doctors can save the lives of more patients and tracking vital health metrics can lead to a longer life expectancy.

Education

Another area that is poised for huge disruption is the way individuals educate themselves. It’s impossible for traditional educational methods to keep up with the growing level of data in the world. This leaves vast opportunities for apps and digital education platforms (like Udemy and Lynda) to create a new way of learning that is based more on the user.

Open Angle: Use open data to find specific trends in desired education (learning to drum for example) and develop a platform that provides the need expressed by the data.

Business Benefit: Universities and colleges are becoming outdated and unaffordable. Subscription-based educational platforms can be highly targeted and provide steady revenue.

Social Benefit: Using open data to find patterns and problems with the way people learn can lead the way to inexpensive and easily accessible learning for everyone.

Personal Finance

Keeping track of your money, growing it, and saving it are common worries. Now, individuals have to be on guard at all times to protect personal data along with their bank accounts. The number of ways to use open data to help people use their money is staggering.

Open Angle: Open financial data can be found on anything from 401k trends to transaction records and can be used to create a safer and more efficient marketplace.

Business Benefit: Digital transactions will only be going up in the future. Finding new ways of tracking purchases, stock transactions, and personal security will need to be introduced in an ever-changing financial world.

Social Benefit: Providing apps and services that protect businesses and individuals while helping them manage assets, strengthen economies and the middle class.

Entertainment

The underlying technology used in the entertainment industry goes farther than you probably realize. There’s not only CGI, 3D movies, animation, and Virtual Reality, but even the apps on your phone or tablet often utilize complex technology like facial recognition and dictation capabilities.

Open data for entertainment development include things like social sharing, buying trends, and other factors. It can also be used to create very profitable software.

Open Angle: Open data can be used to create communities, develop popular games, and create other forms of entertainment.

Business Benefit: Entertainment can be directly lucrative through means such as advertising, but can also be used to gather more valuable data including social behaviors.

Social Benefit: While some believe that digital entertainment isn’t very beneficial, it seems to connect, gather and excite people together in a commonplace.

How Will You Adapt to Open Data?

The ability to look at the story that data is telling is already being used to create technology. New channels are being opened up to the tune of billions of dollars, and the benefits for the consumer still outweigh those of the businesses creating the programs. Open data can be a win-win if done correctly.

Figuring out how to utilize this valuable resource and if it’s right for your business is something that requires thought. The Open Data Institute has a great resource for this.

After you’ve done your research and believe that open data can benefit your next project, you’ll need to work with a great team who can get your product to market quickly. Fortunately, that’s what we do.

Got a project using open data that you’d like to discuss? Send us a quick message and let’s start a conversation.

by Carmen Apostu
Blog Post