Open Data Value Model – Monetizing the margins

As the name suggests, the purpose of the ‘Open Data Value Model’ (ODVM) that this blog introduces is to provide a context of social or organizational value for government use of open data.

It will provide one key foundation of the Open Government Maturity Model.

The reason for this is that one risk of open data is that it’s an isolated hobbyist activity. Developers create some great new mobile apps, awesome!, but it doesn’t really help any one in any meaningful way. Boo!

Governments can’t justify spending money on this type of IT development, and so the imperative is the same as for any IT spend: Value Justification.

It’s particularly important for open data, because the easy route to simply ‘checking the box’ is to just publish some open data feeds to a site somewhere. You can announce ‘Open data is available’ and et voila job done, box ticked. But why bother? Who cares? Who uses it? What new social or organizational value has it provided?

If you can’t shape a strong response to this then your open data project lacks a business value context.

Monetizing the margins

I was inspired to the idea of the ODVM from this post of Nick Charney. He also says open data will wither in a vacuum without ‘supporting activities’ – In short it’s not that great on its own, but it blossoms with a surrounding team process of problem analysis, robust R&D method and thoughts towards sharing it with a larger group of stakeholders.

Nick’s use case is a great example: tracking infectious diseases, because it’s the ability to define new perspectives on to the data that creates the insights for new treatments, and that view is best shared across a global community.

The key ‘x factor’ ingredient of the open data movement is that it taps into the general dynamic of open source, ie. you benefit from an app developed independently by someone else, so not only do you not pay for it, but you get the wisdom of their use case too.

For example publishing data about garbage recycling is a mundane bank of information, but someone can identify the more dynamic way to use it, like generating SMS alerts to remind people.

All of these little micro-apps tweak just how effectively the ‘Digital Nervous System’ of a city operation works, and critically it achieves this level of sophistication by not spending money and instead empowering its entrepreneurs.

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