The Benefits of Open Data Within an Organization

Open DataA recent article by Christian McMahon titled “Open Data – How Far Do We Go?” got me thinking about the idea of ‘open data.’  Christian’s article discusses the idea of open data in general where entire data sets are freely available to anyone that wants to access and use that data for whatever reason.

Christian’s idea of open data is a great one and it can be re-defined as an idea that can be used within organizations. The idea of open data can be thought of as making all (or at least most) of an organization’s data available for access and analysis by anyone that needs or wants it.

Open data within an organization isn’t really that far-fetched. With the right data governance and data management systems and processes, a company can make all of their data-sets open to anyone within their organization while keeping security, privacy and access rights in mind.

Making data more open can bring quite a lot of value to an organization. By opening up data to more people, a business can become much ‘smarter’ by way of having more eyes and ‘brains’ focused on various data sets.  Just imagine what you’ll be able to accomplish with hundreds of people looking at data throughout the day rather than just a few data analysts?   What type of insight might be found when people of different backgrounds and experiences have the ability to dig into an organization’s data?

Having more people digging through your data also means less work for the already over-worked data analysts.  The need to continually create new reports and start analytical projects for relatively minor requests will go away if the people asking for those reports and projects have access to the data that they need to review.  Of course, a company will still need professional analysts and data scientists to do much of the heavy lifting with big data but taking an open data approach can add value by freeing up their time.

One additional benefit to the open data approach is that it can democratize the organization by making information and knowledge much more available which can lead to many things including innovation and growth for the business.  You never really know where a new idea will come from so why not make it easy for anyone within the business to analysis data and find new knowledge?

Open data allows organizations to take the fullest advantage of the world of big data.  With the size of data growing inside most organizations today, it just makes sense to open up that data to as many people as possible to give your business the best opportunity for finding those little ‘nuggets’ of knowledge that lead to real innovation.

Is your company approaching your data with an ‘open data’ mindset?