jueves, 3 de octubre de 2013

Enabling #BigData as new source of growth

Several months ago, the OECD published the study "Exploring Data-Driven Innovation as a New Source of Growth. Mapping the Policy Issues Raised by Big Data". Without any doubt, it could be considered as one of the best studies to understand how important is already the data economy in our life and why governments have to take measures to create the right environment in order to unleash the promise of growth and innovation that lies hidden behind the growing amount of digital information.

To begin with, the OECD clarifies the characterisation of Big Data. Beyond the classic three V´s (volume, velocity, variety), it adds an important new V to this characterisation: Value. What is more, it highlights that this the only important feature that should drive the interest for Big Data. The Moore Law guarantees that volume, velocity and variety are mainly temporal conditions, it is sure that the storage and processing will reach new frontiers that will dwarf what we considered nowadays a large pool of data, and therefore the value of the data is what should drive the data strategy.

As in any OECD report, the document is plenty crowded of figures in order to provide evidence of its statements. It is always dificult to underline one of them, but only one estimation should be enough to understand the need to promote the data economy and the data culture:  the output and productivity of firms that adopt data-driven decision making are 5% to  6% higher than would be expected from their other investments in and use of information technology. In a time when we are looking for levers to overcome the biggest economic crisis since the II World War, taking  advantage of a new source of economic activity must be a priority for governments.

But Big Data is not only important because it allows the dawn of a new kind of organisations, the data-driven organisations (although I would have prefered the usage of the term data-enabled organisations). As the document shows, it has a clear impact in other sources of growth due to its role as a cornerstone of the digitalisation of the organisations. The data culture underpins the possibility to raise the capabilities of the public and private sector by enhancing research and innovation, paving the way to new products and services, transforming the processes of the organisations and, last but not least, making more personal the relationship with the customers. The OECD report provide a good number of cases for each of these augmented and new organisational abilities, but it is not difficult to find more articles with more examples.

Finally, the study provide some advice for policy-makers on the issue. Another recent document reminds that governments have several roles in the data market: Producer, consumer and facilitator. Therefore, it should use all these leverages to boost the shift to a data economy. And this is what the OECD recommends:
  • as a facilitator,  government should put in place privacy protection law, increase the availability of data skills and  boost the amount of data available with the creation of the right conditions in the telecommunications in order to reap all the benefits of the Internet of the Things
  • as a producer, government should publish for re-use as much public sector information as legally possible
  • as a consumer, government should measure the benefits of its big data implementations

P.S. After writing this post I read an article about the different definitions for Big Data. It deserves to be here.

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