“Data sharing uses a give-and-take logic: it unites companies around common interests and use cases.”
Most data has limited value in and of itself, but this increases when combined with other data. The ideas and applications arising from this concept are likely to transform businesses and help solve some of our social problems. Many companies are deterred from taking up the opportunities that sharing data has to offer because of the inherent risks associated with it. “Data sharing” is the art of organizing exchange ecosystems that can protect the data of various stakeholders.
Fifteen years ago, an Open Data movement was launched, particularly by governments, to allow as many people as possible to access to public data. Everything changed with the early stages of Big Data. Previously viewed as waste left over from information systems, data became a valuable asset. Companies wanted to use data to create value, increase it by combining it with other data and share it in a more organized and secure way. They worked on the terms for data sharing, data usage and creating contracts to ensure they complied with the restrictions pertaining to their businesses. These restrictions included regulatory requirements and issues surrounding patents, intellectual property, governance and controlling third-party use of data, to name a few.
Give and take
With Big Data, many companies are already on their way to creating value with their own data. So why not share it? But with who, and for what purpose? Roxane Adle Aiguier, Head of Digital Society Research Domain at Orange, explains that “data sharing has become a business in itself, but it cannot necessarily be monetized. It can often be understood using the logic of give and take. A mutual sharing agreement unites companies around common interests and use cases.” Roxane Adle Aiguier uses an example of an aviation subcontractor factory for whom Orange is helping to create a “digital twin” of the factory and the parts produced there. Tracking these parts, their location and evolution precisely is a critical issue for the aircraft manufacturer, which is made possible by sharing data between the aircraft manufacturer and its subcontractors.
Among willing stakeholders
Let’s get back onto terra farma. Does the data produced by a milking machine belong to the farmer? Or does it belong to the machine manufacturer? They both have a particular interest in using this data securely. The farmer wants to monitor and improve milk quality and production, and the manufacturer wants to enhance the performance of the machine and carry out predictive maintenance. “This type of questioning often falls into a gray area and setting up a ‘data sharing’ system creates a framework of trust with the consent of each stakeholder. Consent and security are essential concepts here. At Orange, we act as a trusted third party by creating technological building blocks to manage consent and security. For example, we carry out this role in the Agdatahub project, which is a platform designed to protect and enhance the use of French agricultural data.”
From Data Lakes to super platforms
The challenges and risks of data aggregation have led to the emergence of platforms and ecosystems that make it easier to share data. Data Lakes are the first place where unordered and unprocessed raw data is stored. When the level of specialization is increased and data begins to be categorized by type or by speaker, then vertical platforms dedicated to specific use cases are created. At the most complex level are super platforms which are capable of linking different industries. For example, a logistics ecosystem could bring together a road and supply chain platform, etc.
Data sharing strengthens sectors
A major European data-space project called Gaia-X is in the process of being developed with the goal of promoting data exchange between different sectors within EU countries under a GDPR-compliant regulatory framework. Orange is a Gaia-X partner supporting the design of the technical infrastructure. “The popularity of data sharing is undeniable and the benefits for society evident. Although large groups currently are predominant in this ecosystem, small businesses are hungry for data too. This popularity reveals the benefits of having an organization with a clear trade, in which cooperatives and trade unions will play a decisive role.”