Data as a Revenue Generator

Many companies may be sitting on valuable assets that could open dramatic cash flow. Big data is helping organizations uncover patterns in their company, customers and the surrounding culture, but David Newman, research vice president at Gartner, suggests open data may provide the competitive advantage for generating revenue. He explains, “more government agencies are now opening their data to the public Web to improve transparency, and more commercial organizations are using open data to get closer to customers, share costs with partners and generate revenue by monetizing information assets.”[1]

Now it is would probably be helpful to clarify what Gartner means by “open data.” Normally that language is associated with the open source movement, which believes “that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.” [2] Gartner is modifying this definition to emphasize the potential sharing of specific data for a price. They’re emphasizing the formation of information-sharing networks that facilitate an exchange relationship that includes information goods (code, data, content and standards) and information services (making information goods via services such as the Internet, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap and GPS) with a specific community of individuals and organizations. An effective network can make specific data accessible to a larger group, thus increasing the value of that data.

As IT leaders move into strategic decision-making positions that focus on aligning technology with business goals, one area that IT should consider is the types of data collected throughout the organization. While every organization has specific proprietary data that cannot be shared and privacy data that they’ve agreed not to share, there is still a variety of data that can be sold or traded.

Gartner suggests that “enterprise architects [can] help their organization connect independent open data projects by creating actionable deliverables and information-sharing practices that generate business-focused outcomes for achieving strategic customer growth and retention objectives.” Some of the challenges for considering data sharing include:

  • Identifying Data Streams
  • Vetting Data Sources
  • Assuring Data Quality
  • Anonymizing Data
  • Distributing Data via Open APIs
  • Reaching Potential Buyers

There are two key challenges for companies considering the possibility of developing data revenue streams. First potential data streams within organization must be identified, vetted, quality checked and anonymizing. Then the challenge shifts to reaching potential buyers utilizing some type of data sharing networks via an open API. Companies may utilize information architects to help examine this challenge and develop a process for identifying, collecting, cleaning and distributing data to potential customers.

[1] Staff writer. “Gartner Says Big Data Makes Organizations Smarter, But Open Data Makes Them Richer.” Gartner, August 22, 2012 <>
[2] Open Data. Wikipedia <>