Gambit or Gamble? Exploit your data value with this successful strategy!

In the digital world, there are two main flavours, those with extensive data and those that require extensive data.

Find your data entrepreneurship

– In this article, we leave out the data-native (Big Tech) companies -.


Those with extensive data, are in fact the (international) corporations with trusted brands, mature system landscapes and long long-lasting relationships with customers and partners. They can build upon large quantities of (historical) data, consistently used for existing processes and products. These could do much more with their data, maneuvering (the Gambit) real value out of their data.

Most corporations already invested in structural advantages for a competitive data edge: a supporting platform infrastructure, data quality monitoring, established data science teams and a data steward / data scientist attitude. For a maximal return on those investments, companies need to go the extra mile.

A strategy for data

The most common pitfall of a data strategy is that it becomes an overview of big words only, with a (too!) high focus on technology and analytics.  Yet technology should be an enabler. And analytics is just a manifestation. Don’t gamble with data (products), a good data strategy starts with a clear vision, related to market, technology and (regulatory) developments. Include a target operating model to achieve the strategy. But most of all, include on the value of data. Determine use-case types that will create most value. Large corporations have an unparalleled knowledge of industry and markets and are uniquely positioned to oversee this. Of course, there are value-cases for efficiency gains and productivity improvements. Limiting to these obvious values, tends to close doors on new opportunities. Companies must have a clear ambition pathway to data-driven revenue. This new revenue can include rewiring customer interaction, creating a completely new product or business and stepping into new markets.

In practice, data driven revenues proof to be more difficult than imagined. The effort to introduce new products within new markets combined with uncertain results make companies hesitant. Without a solid and funded ambition and a defined risk appetite, this can result into only minimal innovations, such as adding data features (apps!). Compared to data-native companies, this minimal innovation sometimes seems small potatoes. A clear data strategy gives companies mature guidance for innovation KPIs, investments, risks, and market opportunities. The data strategy will help to build success and develop new services, products and even ventures.

Data equals assets

In general, there are two flavours when it comes to data within companies. Companies have less data than they realize. Or companies have more data than they realize and have an under-utilization of the data, due to insufficient awareness of its value. Understanding the value of your data is based on 5 pillars:

  • History

Historical data cannot be easily replicated, years of data about customers, productions, operations, financial performance, sales, maintenance, and IP are enormously valuable. Such historical data is beneficial for increasing operational efficiency, building new data products and growing customer intimacy. Although Big Tech companies have been around for some years already, they can not compete with dedicated historical data sets. If the (meta) data is of good quality, the value increases even more. Mapping where this data resides gives an up-to-date overview of relevant data throughout the system landscape.

  • Privacy

Corporations are highly aware of the relevance of privacy regulations and have adopted data privacy measures and controls into their data operations. This way, the data that is available is for sure in accordance with (global) data privacy legislation.

  • Integration

Being part of a – traditional – chain with external suppliers and receivers (e.g. supplying materials to a manufacture who sells it to a retailer) can leverage the data into multiple views on e.g. sourcing and warehouse management. Established corporations are uniquely situated to build data-chains. Having a trusted brand creates traction for cooperation and partnerships to capture, integrate, store, refine and offer data & insights to existing and new markets.

“Understanding the value of data means requires real entrepreneurship”

  • Extension

Large corporations can enhance existing & new products with data, e.g., through sensor data. Big Tech companies are doing that now mostly for software products. More traditional companies are particularly capable to do this for hardware products. This way of thinking is still very much underdeveloped, because it is difficult to introduce a new product or even worse, enter a new market with a new product. Yet, it is also the ultimate opportunity! Build data entrepreneurship, by starting small while understanding the full potential of data. Examples of small starts are identifying if a data model can be IP – e.g., when it is part of a larger hardware product. In real life, starting small often means focusing on a solution that is close to home, e.g., joining multiple data sets into one and/or build dashboard, which can be offered to customers as extended service. These are often chosen because of feasibility reasons. From a data product perspective, don’t consider such an approach as not small; consider it as not even starting. Companies that do not progress beyond these products should at least have a simultaneous experimental track, building and failing new products and services for lessons learned what works and what doesn’t. Understanding the value of data requires entrepreneurship (see also the example of Rolls Royce here.)

  • Data entrepreneurship

Large and established corporations are the epiphany of entrepreneurship. It is at their very core. Yet, often not enough for data. Data can be so alien to them that experimenting for value is hesitant or not happening. And this is where start-up companies are not lacking. They might not have the large historical data sets, trusted data chains or easy connections with available hardware products. They do have the entrepreneurial spirit and are highly aware of the value of data. And have the capability to experiment and become successful with new products.

Becoming data entrepreneurial means knowing which data you have, understanding the (potential) value and daring to look beyond the obvious.

Data strategy for small and medium-sized enterprises

Geneviève Meerburg (Director SME Services at van Spaendonck) on: implementing a data strategy within her organisation. Geneviève shares how the importance and value of data organically grew, leading to a concrete need for a data strategy. Listen to hear how van Spaendonck approached truly living through the principles set out in the data strategy and how it helped create new services for their clients. 

Date with D8A
Date with D8A
Data strategy for small and medium-sized enterprises
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The Metaverse: new frontier that re-imagines retail & health. And data re-imagines the Metaverse.

D8A vision on metaverse

Avoid mistakes. How data dependent is the newest digital development?

The Metaverse, generated in science fiction and frequently applied to gaming platforms is trending in e-commerce and increasingly in healthcare.

Simply stated, the Metaverse is a connection between the physical and virtual worlds and is seen as the successor to the mobile internet.

Purchasing a digital product in one ecosystem in the Metaverse (e.g., Facebook) allows you to use it in another (like TikTok). Or buy a physical product, which includes a digital twin — a digital representation as well as a statistic — for your online persona. And vice versa, the digital twin could be used to increase sale at a physical location, if a physical product is not available at a shop, the digital twin can be shown as example. Want to model how a car would behave with the same conditions as in the physical world your are in right now (weather, population, other vehicles on the road) then you can in the Metaverse. Or just google Fortnite’s Ariana Grande concert in the Metaverse.

Meta-commerce is you like, beyond e-commerce. Metaverse is also beyond virtual reality. It is a hybrid of VR, AR, mixed reality and can interact with real life.

So interoperability between eco-systems is key. This is how the timestamps of blockchain can show its worth beyond crypto! The same goes for data. To understand the value of good data, you need to think beyond the structured data that often comes to mind when we talk about data, AI and innovations.

The Metaverse is all about unstructured data or files; e.g., images, videos, music, SEO. Often a neglected area when it comes to data quality concepts such as accuracy (high, medium, low quality), timeliness, versioning (which originates from archiving principles and is now becoming directly related to the core business & product life cycle management), format and completeness. Each file needs to have sufficient data quality rules, definitions and other meta data to enable the above mentioned interoperability. It needs to be totally clear that the digital twin you’re being is from this season or last season for instance. And don’t forget hygiene factors such as ownership (who owns the digital twin? Who can re-sell it?), customization possibilities, portability, sharing agreements, security and most of all privacy. Hot topic, privacy and The Metaverse. Being in accordance with legislation is key in a highly digital world.

From an analytics perspective, the Metaverse is similar to AR &VR. It needs high quality training data. Which means data sets needs to be accurate and fit for use, removing bias and including good data labeling — based on standard classifications.

The Metaverse within the healthcare sector seems a logical next move. Here the ownership, portability and privacy are even more significant. Further increasing the value of good data quality, governed by a fitting regime.

In short, the Metaverse is the upcoming opportunity to increase the value of good data. And for businesses to become further data driven.

Good design teams embrace data quality

Marinka Voorhout (Director at Philips) on: data quality in design is becoming a pre requisite for innovations on data. Listen to practical approach tips and ideas to take data quality into account in user interfaces.

Date with D8A
Date with D8A
Good design teams embrace data quality
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Trailer: Date with D8A

In this trailer of the Date with D8A podcast series, Simone from D8A explains the idea behind the D8A initiative and the what, why and how of the Date with D8A podcast.

Date with D8A
Date with D8A
Trailer: Date with D8A
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Leading through ownership of personal data, this is what you should know!

#innovation #data

Enabling or blocking? Sovereignty of personal data.

Within the digital world, individuals are mostly viewed as — potential — consumers (obviously already a high share) or patients (currently growing share). The data of individuals needs to comply to the regulations within the country or region where the data is collected, i.e., it needs to fit with privacy and security.

Companies are building views on individuals, based from the name, address, email etc, which have been provided through every registration to an online service. As well as online behaviour, e.g., through tracking cookies. These centralised views or centralised identities are stored within silo-based platforms. Neither personal data or individual behaviour are well portable. This means that your digital identity exists in many small pieces with several companies knowing different information about you. This also means that you have to create a unique password for every profile you make, which can be cumbersome, and many tend to use the same password more than once. All of this creates security risks, since your personal data is being stored and managed by many entities and because a password breach might give access to several of your accounts.

An attempt to address these issues is federated identities. Individual identities are managed in a company or government centralized system. The system then distributes the data from the individual to a digital service. Examples where this is in use is within banks, insurers, retail and health. A federated identity enables easier digital activities through a single-sign-on solution However, a federated identity is still silo-based, since it only can be used with web services that accept this solution.

“………That’s right, SSI sets data ownership at the individual level.”

A next generation of identity solutions that is currently being developed and taken into use is self-sovereign identities (SSI). This type of digital identity is a user-centric identity solution that allows you to be in control of your data and only share the strictly relevant information. An example would a situation where you need to prove that you are of age. With an SSI you can document that you are over 18, without disclosing your exact age. Or documenting that you have received a specific vaccine, without disclosing information about all the vaccines you have ever gotten or other sensitive health data. Other examples are sharing that you have graduated to your — future — employer, your medical record with a hospital and your bank account with a store. In your own personal vault if you like (also: a ‘holder’ or ‘wallet’), you own and manage your data. That’s right, SSI sets data ownership at the individual level. Data ownership would resolve a large topic, that often proofs to be a blocker for companies to fulfill their digital ambitions. From this vault you decide to which companies & organisation you want to share your personal data to be defined per specific purpose. For this purpose, personal data needs to be classified (e.g., in accordance with privacy & security regulations) which data is open for all, which is private and which is secure data. The vault provider needs to have good technical solutions (e.g., with verifiers and encryption), a sufficient governance regime and controls in place to support this.

SSI will mean that individuals need to understand what ownership comprises of, what potential risks are and what good practices are to share data. Data literacy should be extended from mostly companies to more individuals. And companies should prevent technical, legal, ethical, fairness and security pitfalls (see also: 10 principles for SSI), e.g, for transparency for systems & algorithms as well as data monetization.

Innovate your data. Use a monetization strategy.

D8A

What is data monetization? According to McKinsey, it is the process of using data to increase revenue, which the highest performing and fastest growing companies have adopted and made an important part of their strategy. Internal or direct methods including using data to make measurable business performance improvements and informed decision making. External or direct methods include data sharing to gain beneficial terms or conditions from business partners, information bartering, selling data outright, or offering information products and services (Definition of Data Monetization — IT Glossary | Gartner).

How to deploy a data monetization strategy

Companies that innovate through data monetization recognize this, monetization can be tricky. Get it right, and you have happy customers and users who are willing to pay for your product. But mis-prioritize and your audience numbers quickly drop, along with your revenue. Building data monetization based on the principles of ‘trusted data’ ( mitigates the risk of mis-prioritisations).

There is no clear-cut answer how a data-driven product generates revenue, or when that is appropriate. And there will, of course, be some products that never monetize.

Having a strategy will deliver guidance. A data monetization strategy is, simply put, a plan to generate revenue for data-driven products. Like with any plan, it guides and brings structure. It is not something that is fixed — it should be flexible enough to develop with the product, the market the product exists in and its users. Goals can and will change over time, and so strategies need to evolve to continuously achieve the goals they’re designed to target. Data products can be based on loyalty & subscription models or a on-time purchase model. It is important to understand at the beginning of the strategy which model(s) the data can leverage to create focus and scalable results.

Data monetization strategy must be built upon the following pillars:

* Understanding how data can be converted into value (see below) and the associated opportunities and challenges of data-based value creation;

* Strategic insights into improving and preparing data to support monetization;

* Strategic insights in the potential value, markets and ecosystems.

Opportunities for monetization

Data driven business models help to understand how data can discover new opportunities. This can be focused on value for efficiency (reducing costs and risks), value for legislation (comply with relevant regulations) and value by maximizing profits, by increasing impact on customers, partnerships and markets. This can include embedding data models, metadata and analytics into products and services. Data monetization needs to be scalable, flexible and user friendly, thereby providing advantages for the company and its customers.

Indirect monetization includes data-drive optimization. This involves analyzing your data to gather insights in opportunities to improve business performance. Analytics can identify how to communicate best with customers and understand customer behavior to drive sales. Analytics can also highlight where and how to save costs, avoid risk and streamline operations and supply chains.

“Having a full understanding of monetization possibilities will help to keep an open mind.”

Direct monetization of data is where things get interesting. It involves selling direct access to data, e.g. to third parties or consumers. This can be in raw form (heavily anonymised due to privacy regulations), aggregated, metadata only or transformed into analysis and insights.

Data-as-a-service

This is the most direct data monetization method. Data is sold directly to customers (or shared with partners for a mutual benefit). The data is e.g., aggregated and/or anonymised, to be fully in accordance with legislation. And to enable trusted data. Buyers mine the data for insights, including combining it with their own data. Or use it for AI solutions within a software. Ecosystem play is the newest area for Data-as-a-service.

Insights-as-a-service

This applies analytics to (combined) internal and external data. It focuses on the insights created using data, rather than the data itself. Either the insights are sold directly or provided as e.g. analytics enabled apps.

Ecosystems-as-a-service

This is a more flexible type of data monetization. The data ecosystem provides highly versatile, scalable and shareable data and/or analytics, when needed in real-time. Standardized exchanges and federated data management enable using data from any source and any format.

Analytics-as-a-service

This is the most advanced and exciting way of monetizing data. Analytics-as-a-service seamlessly integrates features such as dashboards, reports and visualization to new and existing applications. This opens up new revenue streams and provides powerful competitive advantage.

Having a full understanding of monetization possibilities will help to keep an open mind. Where many companies are focusing on analytics products & services, there are more opportunities! Always stay within legal & ethical boundaries, but explore all opportunity formats to grasp new markets.

Innovate or take up the L.E.T.S. reflex — that is the question

How the Legal, Economical, Technology and Scientific reflex impact data innovations.

Much has been said about proper data ownership. Many companies struggle to have successful data quality, data monetization and even advanced analytics, when ownership is unclear. Or not pro-actively practiced. In short: a data owner is accountable for correct and sufficient availability of good and trusted data quality. That accountability can only be applied if it is applied at the right organisational level, i.e. on the executive level. Any company that tries to divers data ownership to the tactical level (e.g. a data team lead) or operational level (e.g., a data steward) will not reach their data driven goals & objectives.

For those organisations without proper data ownership with a clear strategy, defined & monitored KPIs and supporting governance structure, there usually is only 1 road ahead.Employees on the organisational level will continuously firefight data issues, while e.g., AI solutions, data innovations and compliance goals are not met.

In highly sensitive organisational politics environments, substitute solutions for ownership are often sought. You can identify them as the L.E.T.S reflex:

  • Solutions with a high focus on Legislation (e.g., privacy, financial or health regulations);
  • Solutions with a high focus on Economical benefits (e.g., monetizing insights, increasing operational effectiveness through robotics);
  • Solutions with a high focus on Technology (e.g., a data platform/eco- systems, AI & Machine Learning, datawarehouses, BI tooling);
  • Solutions with a high focus on Science (e.g., researching data or analytics solutions, whitepapers, subsidized research).

Data driven companies will recognize at least one of these reflexes. Data innovations is complex, due to many factors. Which makes owning up to a solution for this complexity, a challenge. It is often easier to focus on one or multiple reflexes. Yet none of these reflexes can be seen as a substitute for data ownership.

Owning the use of data

D8A

Why your company needs a Chief Data Officer.

It is time to increase acknowledgement of the importance of a chief data officer.

As companies move towards working data-driven, monetizing data in new and enhanced services and products is essential. Traditionally heavy regulated industries, e.g. financial and health, first focused on bringing their data in control. Their efforts concentrated mainly around data quality management, data privacy, data governance and E2E trusted data lineage. These efforts are often led — or owned — by a Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In this article, we advocate to shift or extend this focus of the chief data officer towards data in control AND data in use.

CDO’s define and communicate the companies vision on data management and data use. Through this vision, the CDO gives direction, guidance, advocates for change and sets priorities for running projects. Most companies CDO’s have to some extent achieved this for data management. The extended focus of Chief Data Officers, which we advocate for in this article, contains standard processes for the design, prototyping, development, productizing and use of data & insights products & services. Furthermore, it is the CDO who defines a standard set of technology to be used to support these processes and create these solutions. Where needed, this is based on the data management foundation as implemented by the CDO in previous years.

The Chief Data Officer ideally combines business expertise, technology background and analytics/BI. Extended by a common commercial sense, understanding of production processes and knowledge of relevant 3rd party partners to cooperate with. Organisations without an ‘extended CDO’ will experience difficulties and potential delays in reaching their data-driven goals — in accordance with new developments in the market. Without strategic guidance and steering, there is an increased risk that departments and units will define their own standard processes, set of technology and data-driven products and services. Making it harder to leverage pre-existing data foundations as well as cross-unit collaboration to enable effective market penetrations. Teams will struggle to escalate and address growing concerns as sufficient C-level representation is missing.

Concluding, companies benefit from a Chief Data Officer with a focus on data in control and data in use. Top-down ownership and alignment of data initiatives, standardisation of processes and data tooling and a clear escalation path for growing concerns are necessary to succeed as a data-driven company.