Publication Date: April 27, 2015
Although we live in a data age, much information has until recently been privately held and access to it restricted. This is starting to change, however, with the rise of the open and shared data movement. Increasingly, it is clear that we are entering a new era of access, innovation, and transparency.
Today, it is widely held that open and shared data have the power to fuel economic growth, job creation and new business opportunities. The consulting firm McKinsey predicted the possible global value of open data to be over $3 trillion annually.3 A study commissioned by the Omidyar Network concluded that open data could increase the output of G20 countries by some $13 trillion over five years.4 But for all the excitement about the potential of open data, very little is known about how it actually works—the precise variables, parameters and pathways through which it translates into growth and opportunities.
The purpose of this paper is to better understand how open and shared data impacts the economy. Focusing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups, we consider 354 case studies of companies currently using open data to better understand how open data can be used, and how it can contribute to economic growth, new jobs, greater innovation and other improvements in our social and economic lives. Grounding our analysis in empirical studies allows us to identify the most important issues confronting any SME considering an open data strategy. It provides lessons and principles that have proven, real-world applicability.