Apr 11, 2013
What Can Open Data Do for Your Company?
Titans like Google and Facebook benefit from the data they mine every day from user activity, as do retail giants such as Target and Amazon by drawing conclusions from consumer shopping habits. But can your organization download that data and use it as business intelligence? Depends who you are - for most of us, it's pretty unlikely. The good news: There's still a tremendous amount of data out there about customers and the business landscape that doesn't originate with business. It originates with government.
That's a good thing and a bad thing. It's good because you generally don't need to license data that's considered an open record, and you don't have to worry about whether your competitors have data that you don't have. So that means you can monetize it, and examples abound. Google, with a combination of private, government and crowdsourced data, built incredible value around its Maps application. BuildFax has federated hundreds of sources of open government data to provide property history information and apps to the insurance and mortgage industry. Ancestry.com mines census and other government data, and prior to its acquisition, had a market cap greater than $1 billion. GuideStar, an organization that helps folks compare not-for-profit data, turns IRS Form 990 information into data tables and sells subscriptions for its financial analysis tool. The list goes on, including, of course, the creepier "find out anything about anybody" industry that makes use of government data to sell unlisted phone numbers to the highest bidder. (S6660313)