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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.