Saturday | Apr 10 | 2021

The Value of Publically Available Datasets and How Can it Benefit Your Business?

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The information has become an essential resource in the modern world. Whether you are a researcher, a government policymaker, a student, or an entrepreneur, you will likely use insights to make decisions. While businesses prepare to pay a premium to get quality information, the landscape of information availability has drastically changed in recent years. Classified information remains essential.

However, publicly available datasets have made their mark in recent years. What are publicly available datasets and how businesses can benefit from them?

Read on, as we answer these questions in this article.

datasets

The Democratization of Information

If you manufactured a product in Western Europe 200 years back, then you likely competed with other manufacturers in the near vicinity. Even if another business manufactured the same product in the Asia Pacific, it couldn’t compete with you. The logistics infrastructure to enable the Asia Pacific manufacturer to sell its products in Western Europe didn’t exist. However, a more fundamental factor ensured that you competed only against local businesses at that time.

Democratization Of Information and The Future of Technology This factor was a lack of information. Your customers in Western Europe didn’t know that the Asia Pacific business existed and manufactured the same product. The lack of democratization of information created an environment where you only had a few local competitors.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Customers all over the world can now easily find out about your competitors in the Asia Pacific and elsewhere in the world. The democratization of information has increased competition. However, we talked about one side only! You, the Western European manufacturer, can now sell your product in the Asia Pacific. Customers there are now equipped know about your work too, unlike 200 years back! The democratization of information increases the proverbial “size of the pie” also.

For businesses though, the democratization of information hasn’t been as easy as what customers experience. Companies advertise their product, and customers all over the world can find them over the Internet. However, market information isn’t that readily available. When businesses needed demographic and competitor information in a target market, they would likely need the help of a market research company.

If you lead an industry, then you probably know that market research reports aren’t cheap! Publicly available datasets are changing the dynamics. From the standpoint of businesses, they are democratizing information.

Publicly Available Datasets: How They Help Businesses?

We often use the term “open data” to refer to publicly available datasets. The “open data movement” as we know it had the original objective making governments more transparent. It also had the aim of making scientific data available to a broader audience. As time progressed, open data now delivers plenty of benefits to businesses. These benefits are as follows:

1. Help For Innovators

Entirely new business models have emerged on the back of publicly available datasets. CityMapper, the public transport app is an example.

2. The Enormous Volume Of Data

Many organizations, including governments, not-for-profit institutions, and businesses, have made datasets available publicly. So many contributors across different sectors mean that you have an enormous volume of data to choose.

3. Cost Savings

Publicly available datasets are free, unlike expensive market research reports! Note that these datasets are perfectly legal to access.

4. The High-Quality Of Data

A lot of open data comes from national and state governments in democratic countries. These governments remain answerable to the legislature, judiciary, media, and the free society at large. They also need to update relevant transparency-related laws. A lot of due diligence goes into the data they release publicly, and this improves the confidence of users of this data.

Moreover, reputed not-for-profit institutes create a good deal of open data. These institutes need to keep their reputation in mind, which incentivizes them to ensure high quality of data.

For example, many observers and media organizations are monitoring the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center at the time of writing this article. High-quality data is essential at a time when the world is combating a pandemic.

5. The Variety Of Data

Take a look at Data.gov, the open data library from the US government. It provides a wide variety of data like healthcare provider charge data, manufacturing & trade inventories and sales, monthly house price indexes, credit card complaints, federal student loan program data, etc. That’s an enormous variety, and it would take businesses plenty of money and time to get this data from other sources.

6. Competitor Intelligence

Businesses can get meaningful insights into competition from publicly available datasets. Such datasets can provide a variety of information like the technology used by competitors or their financial results.

7. Inputs For Targeted Marketing

You can access publicly available company databases or social media trends. These give you inputs for targeted marketing campaigns.

Every Business Should Have a Strategy to Utilize Publically Available Datasets to Drive Innovation.  

Publicly Available Datasets: Augmenting The Effort

Can businesses eliminate their dependence on classified information or market research reports by using publicly available datasets? Not exactly. There are a few challenges of using open data libraries, which are as follows:

  • It takes considerable time to collate data from various publicly available datasets. The volume of data can make this task a formidable one.
  • While many publicly available datasets are released by responsible organizations that take accountability for their data, some other datasets have inaccurate information. They might also be outdated.
  • You could find it hard to pinpoint the source of data, and this can raise questions about the authenticity of the data.
  • Publicly available datasets are massive, and you could find it hard to locate specific databases/files.

Publicly available datasets can augment the intelligence collection efforts on the part of businesses. Open datasets can’t yet eliminate their dependence on market research reports.

Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the Web like deer on a freeway. — Geoffrey Moore

Examples of Prominent Publicly Available Datasets

We talked about Data.gov, the open data library from the US government. It’s only one example of prominent publicly available datasets. You can find more publicly accessible datasets by using the Google dataset search engine. A few more prominent examples of publicly available datasets are as follows:

  • Open Data NI is the open data library provided by the government of the UK. You can find various categories of information here. For example, this data library includes datasets on health, education, finance, environment, agriculture, property, land, economy, industry, employment, tourism, transportation, etc.
  • Open Government Data (OGD) Platform India offered by the Government of India. You can find data about many subject areas like healthcare, transportation, labour, employment, economy, education, demography, industries, etc.
  • VisualData Discovery is a search engine to find computer vision datasets. You can find various kinds of datasets containing imagery here. It includes satellite imagery, text detection & recognition, video clips from movies, place recognition, and more.
  • Registry of Open Data on AWS is a famous repository of publicly available datasets. It includes datasets on subjects as varied as healthcare, medical research, satellite imagery, weather, sea surface temperature (SST), etc.
  • Microsoft Research Open Data is a repository of freely accessible datasets from Microsoft Research. It contains datasets on subjects like natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, information science, and various other scientific topics or issues.
  • Awesome Public Datasets is a GitHub-based repository of public datasets. This repository caters to multiple areas like agriculture, biology, weather, computer networks, economics, finance, energy, education, government, etc.
  • Kaggle Datasets Kaggle is a platform to create and publish open datasets, and you can search for open data. As with other prominent repositories of publicly available datasets, Kaggle covers a wide range of subjects. A few examples of subject areas are healthcare, stock market, start-up investments, etc.

Conclusion

The democratization of information is picking up momentum rapidly, and publicly available datasets are playing a pivotal role here. We reviewed how businesses can take advantage of open datasets. They can find a large volume of authentic information in these datasets, which can help them to understand the market and competition. Open data can augment the efforts on the part of businesses to get actionable intelligence.

In this article, we reviewed a few popular repositories of publicly available datasets. If you are leading a company, pay close attention to open data. You might get valuable insights that can help you to differentiate your offerings.

   

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