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Open Data: The Key To $3 Trillion In Economic Value

By   /  November 4, 2013  /  No Comments

rsz_mckinsey__company_logoThere’s money in that open data. A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute finds that machine-readable information that’s made available to others has the potential to generate significant economic value: $3 trillion annually in seven domains, to be exact.

The report, entitled Open Data: Unlocking Innovation And Performance With Liquid Information, sees the potential economic effect unfolding in education, transportation, consumer products, electricity, oil and gas, health care and consumer finance. Data becomes more liquid, the report authors note, when it is open, widely available and in shareable formats, and when advanced computing and analysis can yield from it — potentially in conjunction with proprietary data — novel insights. It doesn’t specifically mention Linked Data, but hones in on government open data platforms – including the Linked-Data infused data.gov.UK, which it cites as having had 1.4 million page views this summer – as critical to the economic good tidings. It records more than 40 countries with open data platforms, and up to 1 million data sets as having been made open by governments worldwide.

“Making government data available not only enables value creation,” the report says, “but also sets the tone for openness among other institutions.” Indeed, institutions and enterprises beyond the government are starting to see the sense in opening up their data, too, the report notes.


Increased efficiency, new products and services, and consumer cost-savings and convenience are waiting to be unlocked, with the U.S. poised to reap just a little over $1 trillion of the $3 trillion in value, Europe some $900 billion and the rest of the $1.7 trillion split among the rest of the world. The report posits such benefits as: In transportation, open data on vehicle location and on-time performance can help attract new users and add revenue to public transport systems; in retail, open data from social media and neighborhood demographics can lead to better target marketing; in energy consumption, open data can help businesses and consumers better control their consumption.

Risks? Of course. Consumers and businesses need to feel their data is safe, and that it won’t be used against them or to somehow exploit them, the report notes. Areas to be further pursued to truly realize value? Yep, count making data sources comparable to each other via standards; releasing metadata to increase usability; and a rise of open data marketplaces to effectively and securely share the data, and perhaps provide services to catalogue, cleanse and parse information that isn’t released in machine-readable format.

A next-generation Kasabi, perhaps? To find out more, check out the full report here.

About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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