Open knowledge is a major business opportunity for Finland. That is the belief of, among others, Leading Specialist Ossi Kuittinen, Director of Information Society Development at Sitra. He considers open knowledge a bigger issue than the invention of electricity.
― Open knowledge democratises innovation, as it enables even low-cost commercial inventions to become successful. Open data means new growth opportunities particularly for small and medium-sized companies, says Kuittinen.
― Knowledge does not get worn out from use. It can be shared and its value only increases. Our complex world requires decentralised decision-making and action. Openness offers a good starting point for this. We are currently experiencing a cultural shift, the extent of which is still unclear. What we are dealing with is even bigger than the invention and introduction of electricity.
― The next major revolution will take place when data-intensive sectors, such as health care, banks, operators and shops open up their data to their customers. When data is free, the information society can become a society of riches. Some good examples can be found in the areas of energy metering and environmental data.
The growing value of raw material
Ville Peltola, Innovation Director at IBM Finland, believes that open data holds significant business opportunities:
― According to EU estimates, open data has an economic impact of up to 40 billion euros a year. We believe that open data could represent a new business opportunity in both the public and private sectors.
Peltola says that open data can be seen as a ‘raw material’ for new business. Open data differs from traditional raw materials in that its value can only grow when shared. Another basic notion behind open data is that innovation opportunities can be opened up for the raw material outside the boundaries of an organisation.
― This has been referred to as the co-creation phenomenon, in which customers and other stakeholders are linked to the development of new services and products. In the case of open public data, the new creators are often regular citizens, which is the ideal situation for a participatory democracy and evidence of the co-operation that exists between citizens and the government, says Peltola.
From co-operation springs innovation
Peltola sees a wide range of potential commercial innovations in open data. For example, opening up product data in retail stores could enable new smart services developed by a third party and which could combine product data between shops with the goal of creating a new service experience.
― Both customers and merchants would benefit from service created in this way. I want to encourage companies to try opening up data, as the best ideas are not created within a single company, but instead in co-operation with others.
According to Peltola, the best examples of implemented open data business applications are in public transport data and meteorological data.
― Helsinki, for instance, contains countless smart mobile traffic applications, and the brains behind them have already started making money on them, he concludes.