jueves, 29 de mayo de 2014

The need to establish a roadmap from data towards growth

There is a clear need for developing "Data Value" strategies in the digital era. Data is the blood of the digital ecosystem, what is the same to say that is the blood of all the social and economy activities, and we are walking on big strides to world based on data-driven decisions. Some public and private organisations has developed strategies on how to handle with concepts as open data, big data or personal data, but these are partial approaches. It is needed a holistic approach to data (in digital format, of course) because due to the "super additive"  quality of data and quick advances of technology, any adjective to data is artificial: non personal data become personal data mixed with other sources of information, today "small" data that are result from an activity grow  afterwards to "big" data when the measurement of the activity can be done more frequently due to new sensing technologies, ... and so on.

As a consequence of their triple role as provider, consumer and regulator of the data lifecycle, Governments of all territorial layer should be the firsts in developing a "Data Value" Strategy. Unfortunately, these works are still in their infancy, mainly because the awareness of the value of data in the digital economy is quite recent.  Take the case of the European Union. Although its "Digital Agenda for Europe" is less than five years old, the data value strategy is developed following a silo approach (On one hand, there are chapters dedicated to Reuse of PSI; on the other hand, there are chapters dedicated a personal data) and it is incomplete (no mention at all to "Big Data" issues). These limitations of the EU Data Value Strategy are on the brink to be overcome. On one hand, the mid-term review of the Digital Agenda for Europe highlighted the explosion of data of the last years. On the other hand, a "EU data value chain strategy" has been drafted.

As it has been pointed, the first step in the development of Data Value Strategy is defining its scope. I have clearly stated my opinion that all kind of data should be included in the strategy. The focus should not be which is the kind of data to be handled, but which our objective of handling the data: Building a data-driven society (or organisation). Once it is established and accepted this objective, the focus should be on how to remove the barriers that stand between us and the objective. Beyond the technological barriers (it is obvious that you will need some new gadgets on place), there are lack of skills to be solved, laws or rules that needed to be updated and new education and ethics that has to be provided. Last but not least is the question of obtaining and enlarging our data pool and learning to make the right questions on it. The definition of our lifecycle in the last cornerstone of our strategy, the identification of the sources of data and how to fund its procurement is as important of the digestion of this data to obtain the knowledge needed for our organisation (anf if possible more data for our pool of information).

Data appears as an unlimited resource for richness and growth. But neither of them will be obtained if we do not stop for a minute a define the path towards it.







martes, 27 de mayo de 2014

#visualization #broadband #eHealth Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (27/5/2014)

Data visualization checklist

It´s not only the data you provide. The way you present the information has a great influence in its impact on the audience. This is a useful guide for create good visualizations of your data.



Directive 2014/61/EU on measures to reduce the cost of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks

A new European piece of legal framework result of the Digital Agenda for Europe. Broadband connectivity is the basis infrastructure for the digital economy. A 10 percentage point increase in the broadband penetration rate leads to an annual growth in per-capita GDP of some 1 to 1.5 percentage points. This Directive aims to facilitate broadband deployment through the disminution of red-tape and administrative burdens.


18 factors to make telemedicine a success

At the eHealth Forum, the EU-funded Momentum project published a list of 18 factors that are critical to deploying telemedicine successfully into routine healthcare.


viernes, 23 de mayo de 2014

#Rigths #BigData Somwhere in #digital Europe (23/05/2014) ...

EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline

The Council of the European Union adopted guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline during its Foreign Affairs meeting held in Brussels, on 12 May 2014.




Study on the legal framework of text and data mining

The study conducted on behalf of the European Commission is an assesment of the several impacts of ICT on text and data mining, from IPR to privacy.

miércoles, 21 de mayo de 2014

Beyond technology: Taxes and contracts in the digital economy

Beyond technology, are the biggest barriers for the digital single market. There is a growing gap in the digital services area between what is technologically possible and is available for EU consumers and businesses, and what can be enjoyed without legal or tax uncertainty in the cross-border scenario where the single market relationships happen. Nevertheless, it looks the next couple of years could be key to solve some of the main issues that stand between us and the digital single market.

Let us firstly look yo the taxation issue. The digital revolution has accelerated the frictions between the local nature of the taxation rules and the global character of trade. The crisis has bring an interest to tackle the base erosion and profits shifting (BEPS) issue, the explotation of the gaps available in tax systems to avoid taxation in home countries by pushing activities abroad to low or no tax jurisdictions. The concept of physical presence that is the cornerstone of the taxation systems, how to tax the value created from data, the characterisation of the payments made in new business models and the VAT collection are the among the challenges the governments would like to solve before giving a deciding push to the digital economy. Without solving the BEPS problem the tax system that is at the base of the welfare state will be progressively harmed. The awareness of the problem by governments can be tracked in some of the recent European Council Conclusions (for instance, point 4 of the Octuber 2014 conclusions). First drafts on how to solve the BEPS problem have been put forward by the expert groups set by OECD and the European Commission.

Among the complexity of the BEPS issue, VAT collection is one of the challenges looks closer to its solving. The modernisation of VAT system has been the focus of some work in the last years. From January 1st of 2015, new rules will be in place in the EU for telecom, broadcasting and electronic services. The new rule is charging the transaction in the country of the consumer instead of the country supplier. Although the rule will not be applied to any kind of digital services in a first stage (for instance those that are merely a system for placing orders for physical objects), the one-stop shop designed for the implementation of the new rules could be easily extended for being used in all kind of digital services. This approach it is also included in new guidelines for VAT published by the OECD, ensuring a broad consensus in such a critical issue.

The taxation issue is the main worry of governments, but a bigger space in businesses and consumers concerns is occupied by the legal certainty of contractual rules. Until some point, the Consumer Rights Directive establishes an important set of common rules for the single market. Nevertheless, there are still some gaps to be filled. The Common European Sales Law, proposed by the European Commission in 2011, will eventually fill this gaps with a set of common (but optional rules) for trade transactions in the single market. Although initially proposed for any kind of transactions, the amendments proposed by the European Parliament put the focus in non-physical relationships like those conducted through the Internet. It is foreseen an approval of this new legal framework by the begining of 2015.

It is commonly said that technology is the minor problem for the development of a new service. It looks more true than ever according what we have seen in the last 25 years since the dawn of the web. Unfortunately, we still have to create the framework conditions to unleash all the potential of the digital economy. Taxation and contracts are part of this framework, but I´m sure any reader could identify at least one more.

miércoles, 14 de mayo de 2014

#BroadBand #Digital #Wages Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (14/5/2014)

EU leadership and an EU digital President 

Neelie Kroes opened the EU electoral season with a post asking for a EU Digital President. An identification of the open issues on the road to the Digital Single Market.


The broadband State aid rules explained

The Commission publishes new guidance to help governments invest in broadband. The handbook is useful for any public authority investing in broadband or looking at co-funding projects with EU structural and investment funds (ESIF).

The customer is always right

In its report, The Customer is Always Right. How to reduce executive rewards with procurement contracts, the High Pay Centre think tank said Government should use its outsourcing spending to influence outsourcing service providers and encourage them to reduce the payouts given to senior executives. This recommendation includes IT companies.





lunes, 12 de mayo de 2014

The fifth pillar of the EU single market

In past posts of this blog, I have mentioned Carre de Malberg. To make a long history short, he was a French jurist from the 19th century who established the basis of the definition of a modern state as a political community that shares a territory and has its own organisation. My point of view is that if he has lived nowadays, he would have enlarged the definition including digital data as the fourth element of a modern state jointly with community, territory and organisation.

Apart from being the fourth element of a modern state, it is well known the economic value of digital data (public and private data). Much has been said about that value, but I do not remember reading about which are the factors on which the amount of basic digital data that could be generated by a political entity depends. Perhaps because they are so clear: Number of People, GNP and geographic extension. Of course, you need the technology for it, but if you do not have something to describe (data) you do not need a pen to write about it (technology). And thanks to the combinatorial effect, the more basic digital data you are able to generate the more digital data you will create and the bigger the economic value you will be able to create.

From the above point of view, basic digital data provides a new value to the European Union. The combinatorial effect of the digital data (public and private) that could be generated in the Union is an untapped economic resource. Unfortunately, there is a big barrier we need to overcome: the free flow of digital data in the Union. It is not only a problem personal data protection, there are other sectorial constraints to the circulation of digital data that have their origin in the concept of data as physical asset. Some of these barriers are legal (for instance, one way or the other, all the EU countries have in their law the interdict that their Public Administration files can be outside the boundaries of their country). 

The main aim of the European Union is the creation of a single market based on the free movement of people, goods, capital and services. In the same way that digital data is the fourth element of a Modern State, it is high time to accept that we should include a fifth pillar to the single market: the free movement of digital data. It would be impossible the creation of the Digital Single Market without this fifth pillar. I would like to see some proposals in this sense in the forthcoming European Elections.

jueves, 8 de mayo de 2014

#Security #eSkills Somewhere in #Digital Europe ... (8/5/2014)


Ponemon Report on IT Security 

A global study has uncovered the deficient, disconnected and in-the-dark conditions that challenge IT security professionals. The top finding of the report is that 63% of more than 4,800 IT security practitioners polled doubt they can stop data theft, because of deficiencies in security systems.


e-Skills in Europe

A new study released today e-Skills in Europe: measuring Progress and Moving Ahead shows the trend towards higher-level ICT skills will continue. The main forecast scenario suggests that by 2020 the number of ICT management, architecture and analysis jobs grows by 44% compared to 2011, and related jobs by 16%. Mid-level technician jobs will continue to disappear as a result of automation and productivity gains. Consequently, the study claims that there is a corresponding need to increase the quality and relevance of e-skills available in the labour market, particularly since the supply of university graduates is not keeping pace. More than 60% of Europe’s digital jobs vacancies are in UK, Germany, Italy and France.



lunes, 5 de mayo de 2014

The risk of falling behind: A future we will never achieve?

As any other industry, the size of ICT industry in a region could be expressed as a part of its GDP. The importance of this value is the positive impact that it is said ICT has on the economy as a whole. Some studies estimated that ICTs are responsible of nearly a third of GDP growth. So the bigger the share that ICTs are of GDP the better for the economy.

Recently, I have crossed with several studies related with ICTs and GDP in the European Union (including Spain) and the state-of-the-art of ICT investments. Some of them put the focus on where we are, other where we could be after some years. The link between this two points should be the ICT investments we are currently made.

There is an interesting study of the Internet Economy contribution to the EU GDP written by the FI-PPP. "The European Internet Industry and Market" estimated the value of  Internet Economy in 2010  in Europe in as much as 4,1% of the EU GDP. Not a good result if we think that some studies estimated that in the USA ICTs has a share of 7,1% of GDP. But if we pay attention to how it is distributed the ICT industry in Europe according with this study things are worst. We are facing the risk of an enlargement of the divide between rich and not so rich countries in Europe. While the contribution of UK, Germany and UK to Internet Economy in EU is bigger than their weight in EU GDP, countries as Spain or Italy have a weight aproximately equivalent to half their weight in EU GDP.

A second study prepared by the European Commission as part of the background documentation for the "European Semester" make some estimations of the potential share of ICT in EU GDP. In the document "Digital Agenda: Broadband and e-Communications" , the EC estimates that by 2016 ICT will be 5,6% of EU GDP (still lower than in USA). But what is more important, the document estimates that even in laggard countries among the five bigger economies in EU, Spain and Italy , the impact of ICTs in GDP will be as much as 7% of GDP.  As the document where this estimation comes from says, this will be only possible if EU increases its ICT capital stock to the US level, or what it the same, if we spent more money in ICTs.

Nevertheless, it is doubtful that we are making our homework in EU to achieve that rosy future. The OECD published recently the study "OECD 2013 Communications Outlook". As it is usual in this organisation, the excel data are avalaible for reuse. I have been using some of the data related to the spending per habitant in public telecommunications infrastructure and making comparisons between Europe and USA. The image speaks by itself about the investment gap between USA and the EU and the different policies follow in each area. While US has maintained with a slight decrease their investments during the ecnomic crisis the EU investments have suffered a great slowdown. And this is a serious problem for Europe, some studies  (even mentioned in EC papers) show that a 10 percentage point increase in the broadband penetration rate leads to an annual growth in per-capita GDP of some 1 to 1.5 percentage points.

An ICT driven economy in EU looks as the future we will never achieve. I hope I´m wrong.

viernes, 2 de mayo de 2014

Big #innovation challenges for communities

There is some probability that you have landed in this post due to its title. "Big innovations" is couple of words that appeal immediately, without few doubts because we do not pay attention to the fact that how big is something depends on its environment and surroundings. Same happens with innovation projects, how big an innovation project  is depends on the size of the community which is the target of the project.

Nevertheless, for one reason or other, every community should face at one moment of its lifespan a big innovation project in order to progress or even only to maintain its status. It doesn´t matter if this community is an small NGO, a country or a supranational organisation. For instance, big innovations are the rationale behind initiatives such as the EIP in the European Union or the Catapult Network in UK. All these catalysers of big innovation projects look for a quantum leap in some topic.

Is there any common strategy and principles to tackle with big innovation projects? This is a question I started to think about after reading "Outriders of European competitiveness", a review of the EU EIPs. Beyond this concrete report, it is my believe that it is possible to establish a common strategy and shared set of principles for big innovation initiatives, whatever the size of the target community.

Begining with the strategy, first of all, a big innovation project requires a thorough analysis of its objectives from two different point of views: Need and feasibility. On one hand, big innovation projects should be based on the needs of the community and be oriented to solve a complex issue that the community has to faced and could not be solved without the collaboration of an important part of its members or its representatives. On the other hand, should be solvable within the limits of the community, because otherwise the big innovation project should be tackle by a higher-level community. 

Secondly, the project need a strategy, a clear roadmap on how we have to move from the current state in order to achieve the final state. Obviously, this roadmap should allow room for flexibility, because due to its nature, an innovation project is always a journey to wild lands, where anything can happens and should be faced. 

Any roadmap requires for its completion operational and strategic responsibles. Therefore, without an strong leadership in both levels the project would be a failure. This condition it is not equivalent an exclusive ownership of the project of the operational and strategic responsibles. The big innovation project requires a multistakeholder governance, and although the number of different stakeholders would depend on the size of the community, it should require a complex structure of governance for the size of the community (otherwise it would not be a big innovation project). This governance should be based in a balanced governance structure, with a level playing field for all the stakeholders in order to avoid the risk of a change of the objectives of the project or the capture of its benefits only by a reduced elite of the community.

Last but not least, the big innovation project requires a measuring system. There is a conituous need to assess how far we are from the final objective of the project, and this requires a mix of short, medium and long term indicators.

But besides the strategy, that have many points in common with any project development methodology, you need principles. The main principle is transparency, which should underpin the communication of the evolution of the project and the relationship between the stakeholders. A real-time knowledge of the  status of the project and how every one contributes to its success is the main motivation for the community, it also spurs collaboration to overcome what could look as unsormountable obstacles and pave the way for the inmediate recognition of the efforts of each member of the community who actively work in the project.

Besides the transparency, this it is needed room for experimentation and failure. Innovation is about taking risks and looking for the best solution to each problem that turns up. This will lead to errors and also to discover the need to change the initial roadmap to take the optimum path in any stage of the project. So jointly with the room for experimentation and failure, the autonomy of the team shall be respected as long as the critical milestones of the project are reached.

As a fourth and final principle, innovation projects should have a "bridging culture" at their base. The complexity of big innovation projects demand to close the gap between all the stakeholders (final users, solution providers, solution developers and project management, to name a few). Communication is key, as well to have a clear and smooth path between all the actors that have a role in the project.

The strategy and principles are what matter in order to tackle the for big innovation projects that mean something to your community. It doesn´t matter which of the multiple communities which  you are involved in you think as "your" community at a concrete moment. The challenge is going to be big, and the strategy and principles that you have to apply are going to be the same.
palyginti kainas