Wanted: Data ownership

21 / 09 / 2022

Is digital transformation a blessing?

Digital transformation is about the end customer – improving the customer experience. This requires some adjustment under the hood for many companies. Collecting and linking all kinds of data quickly between companies is essential. But is collecting data a blessing? How should we deal with the ownership of the data? And what dilemmas do companies face when it comes to sharing data? 

Data-driven organizations

Let us introduce the concept of a Data-Driven Organization. A Data-Driven Organization is the one capable to process internal and external data for process optimization, enhanced decision-making, and innovation. This data processing can be done in two different ways: 

  • A “problem approach mode”, which focuses on certainty, risk mitigation, efficiency and accuracy that is oriented around preparing and anticipating information needs to service a known set of requirements. 
  • An “exploratory mode”, which emphasizes uncertainty, agility and speed, where developments are discovery-driven and iterative.  

Any Data-Driven Organization can find its combination of these two approaches. The key aspects are the technology to facilitate access and exploit data, data governance and process to allow the conduction of experiments and the skills and organization of the team.
Many companies have been transformed into data-driven organizations or data-driven service providers, where team members who need to use data have access to those they need at the right time.
In other words, being data-driven isn’t about seeing a few static reports now and then, but rather, it’s about empowering decision-makers to explore data on their own, even when working with large or diverse data sources. 

Data at the source

For companies that are also experimenting with linking data sources, it is smart to use the ‘data at the source’ principle. This is also known as the data-centric approach. It is thereby possible to create a digital shadow for one or more entities, in which information can be categorized virtually. This virtual entity uses an e-file. This includes, for example, the properties of the cargo, and the location, but also the limitations of the cargo, such as keeping temperature and humidity constant. Depending on their rights, the partners may inspect the file or certain parts of the file.
Storing data at the source has a number of advantages: 

  1. You can reduce the complexity of the chain of data and information. 
  2. You can reduce costs by linking and integrating multiple data silos. 
  3. The speed to develop new services is higher if it is clear where the data is located and how it can be accessed. 
  4. The end customer knows exactly where the data is stored and – if this functionality has been added – who has accessed and viewed the data. 

 A nice side effect of this approach is that the data quality automatically increases!  

“Data is the center of the universe”

A new initiative has now emerged, called the Data-Centric Manifesto. 

Data is the centre of the universe; applications are ephemeral

These are the key principles of the data-centric manifesto: 

  1. Data is a key asset of any organization. 
  2. Data is self-describing and does not rely on an application for interpretation and meaning.
  3. Data is expressed in open, non-proprietary formats. 
  4. Access to and security of the data is the responsibility of the data layer and is not managed by applications. 
  5. Applications are allowed to visit the data, perform their magic and express the results of their process back into the data layer for all to share.’ 

These five principles help consumers and companies to handle data more carefully, more efficiently and more securely. Linking data does not always have to be insecure. We just need to develop methods that allow us to give everyone the assurance that data has been used for the purposes promised. And it has not been copied, leaked or certain agreements have not been met.
Linking data does not always have to be insecure, but there’s the need to develop methods giving everyone the assurance that data has been used for the purposes promised, it has not been copied, or leaked, and no agreements have been violated.
How do we share and link data securely and prevent its misuse?  

Data Spaces

OPEN DEI has defined a data space as a ‘decentralised infrastructure for trustworthy data sharing and exchange in data ecosystems based on commonly agreed principles 

Organizations increasingly collaborate in digital ecosystems, whilst being aware that data is becoming a key asset. Thus, organizations require improved data control capabilities that prevent their shared data from being misused. This is the main role of the IDS Reference Architecture Model (IDS-RAM) (DIN SPEC 27070): by — specifying rules and mechanisms ensuring data sovereignty within data ecosystems, IDS is following the “security-by-design” concept in helping participants to become sovereign with their data, for example, to have the option to revoke consent.
The IDS connector is a crucial building block for setting up a data space, as explained in the context of EUHubs4Data in a previous blog post.  

Connecting European SMEs to Data Spaces

Most of Europe’s SMEs lag behind in data-driven innovation. To tackle this problem, the EU-funded EUHubs4Data project is building a European federation of Data Innovation Hubs based on existing key players in this area and connecting with data incubators and platforms, SME networks, AI communities, skills and training organisations and open data repositories.
A European catalogue of data sources and federated data-driven services and solutions has been made accessible to European SMEs, start-ups and web entrepreneurs through the Data Innovation Hubs. Cross-border and cross-sector data-driven experiments, carried out by SMEs together with the DIHs of the project, encourage data-sharing and data- and service interoperability, thus contributing to the creation of common European data spaces. 

Participate in the new European Data Economy

The first two sets of experiments have been carried out by the 1st and 2nd Open Call winners, who are supported by the DIHs of the project.
Now, the project launched its 3rd and final Open Call running until 9th November, inviting European SMEs, start-ups and web entrepreneurs to develop data-driven solutions and products using services and datasets offered by the DIHs of the project. The winners will not only benefit from the DIH coaching support, but also learn about data sharing, data interoperability, and data sovereignty, thereby becoming true data-driven organizations!