Unlock the Hidden Value of Your Data

Stefaan G. Verhulst at the Harvard Business Review: “Twenty years ago, Kevin Rivette and David Kline wrote a book about the hidden value contained within companies’ underutilized patents. These patents, Rivette and Kline argued, represented “Rembrandts in the Attic” (the title of their book). Patents, the authors suggested, shouldn’t be seen merely as passive properties, but as strategic assets — a “new currency” that could be deployed in the quest for competition, brand reputation, and advances in research and development.

We are still living in the knowledge economy, and organizations are still trying to figure out how to unlock under-utilized assets. But the currency has changed: Today’s Rembrandts in the attic are data.

It is widely accepted now that the vast amounts of data that companies generate represents a tremendous repository of potential value. This value is monetary, and also social; it contains terrific potential to impact the public good. But do organizations — and do we as a society — know how to unlock this value? Do we know how to find the insights hidden in our digital attics and use them to improve society and peoples’ lives?

In what follows, I outline four steps that could help organizations maximize their data assets for public good. If there is an overarching theme, it is about the value of re-using data. Recent years have seen a growing open data movement, in which previously siloed government datasets have been made accessible to outside groups. Despite occasional trepidation on the part of data holders, research has consistently shown that such initiatives can be value-enhancing for both data holders and society. The same is true for private sector data assets. Better and more transparent reuse of data is arguably the single most important measure we can take to unleash this dual potential.

To help maximize data for the public good, we need to:

  • Develop methodologies to measure the value of data...
  • Develop structures to incentivize collaboration. ….
  • Encourage data collaboratives. 
  • Identify and nurture data stewards. …(More)”