Smart data: Big data and what can be done with it

Although the tools are available, in many companies it is still not clear what kind of application options the systematic analysis of large data sets offers. Big data is the raw material; only analysis and intelligent selection provide smart data.

It is now well known that big data can offer companies great opportunities. However, SMEs in particular still find it difficult to leverage the new technologies to their advantage. While some use the word “wasteland”, other experts speak of a “catastrophic situation”. First results have now been presented by a working group under the direction of the FZI Research Centre for Information Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology that wants to explore the economic potential and social acceptance of smart data business models. Smart data business models and their acceptance by customers have been the object of federally funded research for some time now. There is a need for optimisation in areas such as data availability and data sovereignty for the customer.

Acceptance means trustworthiness

“Even if it seems contradictory in the context of big data, the availability and selection of data is one of the key challenges for successful business models,” says Prof Dr Christof Weinhardt, Director at the FZI. Although the volume of data continues to climb worldwide, only a small portion of it can be used directly. According to Weinhardt, the success of data-driven business models therefore depends crucially on persuading users to release certain data and convincing them of the benefits of data access.

Data security and data sovereignty play a key role in this process. “For the most part, only smart data business models, products and services that allow customers control over data sovereignty will prevail on the market in the future,” adds Prof Peter Liggesmeyer, President of Gesellschaft für Informatik (GI) [German Informatics Society]. Innovation potentials must also be continuously expanded. He specifically mentions the widespread service concepts in which data centre capacity, software, as well as films or other products are regularly bought by subscription. The business model often functions via apps, databases or big data analytics.

More open data from administration

When it comes to data volume, public administration is sitting on loads of it. In the view of the research group however, access to it, at least in Germany, is not at all or not yet sufficiently possible. Reason enough to call for a “consistent open government data policy” that makes data from governmental and administrative institutions available.

“Beyond the use of private sector data, countless data records are in the hands of public institutions,” says Ingo Schwarzer, lead manager of the Smart Data Project SD4M. They constitute an important factor in production and should be harnessed in a structured form as he sees it. This would mean substantial support for innovative smart data services.

A win-win situation with overall economic benefits

The research group has summarised its results up to this point in a position paper. It lists a variety of concrete application examples and ways to generate added value. These include more efficient mobility and energy supply as well as – in an industrial context – early fault detection and optimal use of resources. (ds)