How three big businesses create value with open innovation

Download the PDF

As businesses get bigger, staying innovative and agile is challenging. This report explores three industry-leading enterprises that have embraced an open approach – open source, open standards, open data, open innovation – to help retain their competitive edge.

We’re becoming an open platform for our customers, a core piece of their operating infrastructure.
Tim Baker, Global Head of Content Strategy and Innovation, Thomson Reuters

The three multinationals featured in this report are proving that ‘being open’ is about more than just taking advantage of data made open by governments, other businesses and community groups. These companies have adopted an open approach to keep pace with change, adapt to new markets and influence whole sectors. In effect, they are becoming porous – using an open approach as a mechanism to improve their services, take advantage of new ideas and opportunities, and grow and collaborate more with their networks.

Thomson Reuters, Arup and Syngenta are embedding open principles into their operations to gain competitive advantage. All three are large-scale consumers of data, and sell data-based products. Today, the market for data – data itself, data services and platforms, and data analytics – is hyper competitive. Big businesses in every sector are asking themselves how they can use data more effectively to improve their operations. For Thomson Reuters, Arup and Syngenta, being open has become crucial for overcoming the challenges that many big businesses face:

  • reusing third-party sources of data to drive internal decision making and create new competitive products and services
  • maintaining a leadership position in increasingly competitive markets
  • keeping costs low for the business and for customers and partners they work with
  • staying agile and ready to evolve as the environment they operate in changes
  • collaborating with clients, and even competitors, to tackle sector-wide challenges

Case studies

Each of these businesses has addressed these kinds of challenges in a different way.

Thomson Reuters has taken what started as an internal data management solution and created a new, collaborative information platform providing open data that anyone can access, use and share. The team took this approach to improve client relationships, the quality of their data and uptake of their existing products.

Arup has created and connected with an ecosystem of open innovators. Backed by a compelling business model, the team is reducing transactional friction between their customers’ challenges and their teams’ ability to address them, through a porous data supply-chain. This has led to new products and new ways of working, and saved them time and money.

Syngenta started off publishing open data to increase transparency but soon realised that it could help them shift to a more open, or networked, approach to operating. The team are determined to capitalise on the new relationships that this will create.

Each has used an open approach as a mechanism to retain competitive advantage. Whether by publishing open data or building an open ecosystem, they are developing trust, creating networks and nurturing fertile ground for future innovation.

Open data business in focus

This report is part of a series of outputs we are producing as part of a focus on business and open data. Our first output, ‘Open data means business,’ analysed 270 open data companies across UK sectors and regions – with a combined annual turnover of £92bn, and over 500k employees between them.

If you have insights you would like to share or ideas for research partnerships, contact us, or tweet your ideas to @ODIHQ with #opendatabiz.

You can find more open data business innovations by exploring the work of our diverse network of ODI Startups, ODI Nodes and ODI Member companies.

If you are a company interested in reaping the benefits of open data and connecting with your peers, find out more about becoming an ODI Startup or ODI Node, and join the growing network of ODI Members.

How to cite this report

Please cite this report as: Open Data Institute (2016) Open enterprise: how three big businesses create value with open innovation. London, UK. Available at http://theodi.org/open-enterprise-big-business

Find out more about this paper, its authors and contributors in the Appendices section.


Download the PDF