Unlock data's value by sharing it

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By Frank Hayes

Information becomes more valuable when someone can make a good decision based on it. By sharing some of their information, companies can create rich external ecosystems that unlock that information's hidden value--which can also benefit the source of the information, writes Imre Kabai, chief IT architect for Stanford University's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

However, not many companies have strategic plans to unlock the hidden value of their information. "Few shops ask: Why shouldn't we share this particular information?

How could we make our information more valuable?" Kabai writes. "We must go beyond 'faster and cheaper.' As you evaluate your company strategy, consider whether you have plans to make your information more valuable. See if you could share some of that information or use information from others to unearth hidden value." One problem is that it's not clear how most companies can go about sharing information to their own advantage.

It's likely to include the three technology areas that are shaping almost all of IT today: mobile (which delocalizes information), social (which creates opportunities to share and an environment for innovation) and cloud (which decouples technology from information). But which information to share and how exactly to share it--maybe a better word is "invest"--is heavily dependent on a company's business, markets, competitive position and what it needs to get from an information-sharing strategy.

Examples like Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) self-driving cars, which leverage GPS location information, traffic-sensor data and digital maps, sound great but don't apply to most enterprises. Many businesses already share a certain amount of information with business partners along their supply chains.

The unanswered question: How can businesses go beyond that to get a bigger return on their information investment, while not giving away advantage to competitors.

For more:
- see Imre Kabai's post at InformationWeek

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