Open data is critical for delivering contextual value to customers in digital ecosystems.

For instance, The Weather Channel and OpenWeatherMap collect weather-related data points from millions of data sources, including the wingtips of aircraft. They could share these data points with car insurance companies. This would allow the insurers to expand their customer journey activities, such as alerting their customers in real time to warn them of an approaching hailstorm so that the car owners have a chance to move their cars to safety. Success requires making logical connections between isolated data fields to generate meaningful business intelligence.

Key Considerations

But also trust is critical to deliver value in digital ecosystems. One of the key questions for big data is who owns the data. Is it the division that collects the data, the business as a whole, or the customer whose data is collected?

Forrester believes that for data analytics to unfold its true potential and gain end-user acceptance, the users themselves must remain the ultimate owner of their own data.

The development of control mechanisms that allow end users to control their data is a major task for CIOs. One possible approach could be dashboard portals that allow end users to specify which businesses can use which data sets and for what purpose. Private.me is trying to develop such a mechanism. It provides servers to which individual's information is distributed to be run by non-profit organizations. Data anonymization is another approach that many businesses are working on, despite the fact that there are limits to data anonymization as a means to ensure true privacy.

Ultimately, the producer of the data or the consumer need to feel that they get true value-add and a better user experience in exchange for allowing companies to collect their data. Otherwise, many big data initiative will not take off and may even backfire.

We will discuss this and related themes in more detail in the upcoming report Understanding Digital Business Ecosystems.