This blog post (originally published 30 Jan 2020) was updated on 15 Jan 2021 to include our current private sector data sharing work.

Many businesses are embracing the sharing of data, and are seeing tangible benefits for their organisations and across their entire sectors. Josh D’Addario, Senior Consultant at the ODI, has been talking to these organisations and researching the benefits. Josh shares his top seven reasons why businesses should be sharing data.

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1. Improving market reach

Sharing data about products and services is an increasingly important part of sales and marketing opportunities, helping businesses to improve their market reach.

Health and physical activity companies have been publishing standardised, open data about opportunities to be physically active under the OpenActive initiative, e.g. the time and location of gym classes or swimming lessons, to explore the potential of reaching new audiences.

2. Benchmarking and insights

Companies in the shipping sector share safety data with trusted data intermediaries like HiLo Maritime Risk Management in order to gain valuable operating insights in order to improve safety across the sector.

By aggregating and analysing this safety data, HiLo has helped to reduce lifeboat accidents by 72%, engine room fires by 65% and bunker spills by 25%.

3. Open innovation

Open innovation is about using data as a means of collaboration to bring new technology, insights and capabilities to solve problems that an organisation can't solve by itself.

Through the Data Pitch open innovation programme, data user OBUU partnered with data provider Greiner, and discovered that they could achieve a reduction of fixed asset investment of around 35%, resulting in a significant cost saving.

4. Benefits of regulated sharing

Sharing data can be a legal requirement in some industries with businesses required to share with regulators, with other companies or with the public.

But beyond being a legal requirement, proactive and regulated data sharing often creates benefits for the organisations that share the data, by increasing trust and spurring innovation.

Barclays saw extra potential in the implementation of open banking regulations in the UK to provide new services, establish new partnerships with FinTech and build confidence with new and existing customers.

5. Supply chain optimisation

Increasing access to data can help improve many aspects of a supply chain, such as:

  • the speed and accuracy of product design and distribution
  • collaboration and trust among supply chain partners
  • flexibility of operations down the supply chain
  • overall cost management
  • the transparency and provenance of the supply chain to ensure ethical operations

Take aerospace manufacturing, for example. According to Airbus, design processes that used to require weeks to complete can now be completed in a matter of hours. Multinational aerospace firms have teamed up with supply chain partners to launch a data sharing platform to increase supply chain efficiency and reduce aircraft development costs for airplane manufacturers.

6. Addressing sector challenges

There is an appetite in some sectors for companies to share data with each other, in order to solve common challenges.

The UK energy sector faces a major challenge with balancing the supply and demand of electricity, which costs up to £1bn a year, and with the adoption of renewable technology becoming more commonplace, this could rise to £2bn in the next five years.

Renewable energy companies like PassivSystems are sharing data with trusted data intermediaries such as Open Climate Fix to improve forecasts around solar energy generation, to make renewable energy a more cost effective option.

7. Building trust

Promoting an open and transparent approach has provided reputational benefits and a competitive advantage.

For biotechnology company Syngenta, the open publishing of data has increased understanding of the company’s data amongst Syngenta’s employees, has helped it build connections in adjacent sectors and engage with its supply chain partners better.

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About the ODI

The ODI was co-founded in 2012 by the inventor of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and artificial intelligence expert Sir Nigel Shadbolt to show the value of open data, and to advocate for the innovative use of open data to affect positive change across the globe.

We’re an independent, non-profit, non-partisan company that, since our creation, has welcomed high-profile board members including Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts, founder Baroness Martha Lane Fox and former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

Headquartered in London, with an international reach, hundreds of members, thousands of people trained, dozens of startups incubated, and a convening space based in the heart of London’s thriving Shoreditch area, we invite everyone interested in developing with data – whether on an individual, organisational or global level – to get in touch.