I bet we look back on May 21, 2009 as an historic day; a day when everything changed…On this day, the Obama Administration, specifically its CIO, Vivek Kundra, announced the launch of Data.gov which “will open up the workings of government by making economic, healthcare, environmental, and other government information available on a single website, allowing the public to access raw data and transform it in innovative ways.”
Obviously, the mere thought of a government opening up its proverbial kimono is amazing enough, the real, grand moment, however, will be when the first applications of this data materialize. Just as Apple’s AppStore for the iPhone displays the brilliance (and not a little stupidity) of the crowd, Data.gov will bring forth today’s innovative developers and enterprises. I can’t wait to see what they do!
One day earlier, Google announced it will open up its servers to geographic data from anyone. This goes beyond its 2005 open API announcement for its map services enabling mashups to “viewing, storing and updating geodata on the web.” And even with some initial service limitations, this is a win-win for all developers — as they no longer have to manage their own geo-data store — as well as Google itself, who can add this new geo-data to their search results and possibly generate revenue from it.
One week earlier, the Wolfram|Alpha had its soft launch “to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone.” This is a “quest to make knowledge computable.” It also “contains 10+ trillion of pieces of data, 50,000+ types of algorithms and models, and linguistic capabilities for 1000+ domains.” It is truly amazing to have come so far and daunting to still have so far to go in its endeavors.
What these events all have in common is the super consolidation and subsequent dissemination of the world’s data in the hope of it becoming knowledge and wisdom. The results could be life-altering, good or bad, but definitely different.
What I hope to also see from these events in my clients and other enterprises is their wake-up from the deep sleep so many of them are in when it comes to dealing with corporate data. If the above events are the future trend, huge changes need to begin in corporations.
Most of them are so caught up with securing a perimeter that no longer exists, complying with useless but required SOX audits, and working around Legal’s latest inane guidelines, they see all “their data” as confidential and therefore secret. This often occurs within the silos of the corporation itself, so sharing of data doesn’t even cross lines of business or departments. It is my hypothesis, as seen in a few leading edge organizations, that there is only a very small percentage (~10%) of all corporate data which is truly confidential or proprietary, and enterprises are losing out on significant opportunities to increase sales, innovate new products/services, or improve operations by not widely disseminating the other 90%.
So, how do we get them to see it? How do they “consolidate and disseminate” in a way which is secure and appropriate, yet leverages and empowers the employees, partners, vendors, suppliers, stakeholders, peers, and others connected to these companies? How should companies democratize data?