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Monday, 09 November 2020 17:06

How businesses are monetising their data through sharing

Peter O'Connor, Snowflake Peter O'Connor, Snowflake

GUEST OPINION by Peter O’Connor, Vice President Asia Pacific and Japan at Snowflake: As organisations generate and store increasing amounts of digital data, many are turning their minds to finding ways to extract additional value from it.

For many, this value can be unlocked by sharing data with interested third parties.

Retailers might share transaction data with suppliers to help them better understand changes in customer demands. Local councils may share traffic data with logistics companies to help them better plan delivery routes, or streaming services might share viewer habits with content providers to help guide plans for future productions.

In each case, methods must be found whereby the data can be shared while also remaining secure. It’s also important that, if changes occur to the data, they are immediately available to those with whom it is being shared.

Traditional approaches to data sharing tend to fall short on these requirements. For example, many organisations were in the habit of emailing data files to interest parties for their use and analysis, which raises significant security questions.

Others made use of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) links to exchange data or Extract, Transfer and Load (ETL) tools that take data from a provider’s data store, transform it and then load it into a data consumer’s database. However, these techniques did not ensure data was constantly updated or secure at all times.

Secure data sharing

Now, as increasing volumes of data is stored on cloud platforms, there is a new and more efficient way for organisations to securely share data with third parties.

Secure data sharing does not involve transferring copies of data to another location. Rather, access is granted through metadata that points back to where the data is stored. Data consumers follow this link and view the data while it remains secure.

Using this approach, additional security is provided by the fact that access can be readily revoked if required. Should a data provider become aware that a data consumer is misusing data or breaking regulatory requirements, their ability to use the link can be immediately cancelled.

Secure data sharing also overcomes the challenge of ensuring data is up to date. Because the data consumer is actually viewing the original data (rather than a copy), any changes are instantly visible.

The rise of a data marketplace

Now that organisations have a secure way to share data with third parties, increasing numbers are taking advantage of evolving data exchanges in a data marketplace. Essentially acting as an App Store for data, these platforms make data available to essentially anyone who wants it.

Data consumers are able to peruse large numbers of data sets and make use of the most appropriate ones for their particular requirements. In this way, some may even come across data sets they didn’t even know were available and that can add value to their operations.

In the data marketplace, data providers can receive payment from data consumers for any data that is viewed and used. This can be a good way for organisations to monetise their data in ways not previously possible.

Security and governance

Taking this approach to data sharing also simplifies the task of ensuring it is secure and usage is in line with governance requirements.

Because data consumers are viewing data stored centrally rather than having their own copy, the data provider can ensure the store is both real-time and secure at all times. Measures can be put in place, for example, to protect personally identifiable data and ensure that only certain parts of records are actually made available.

Also, if evidence emerges that security has been compromised, it is relatively simple to remove access from the data marketplace. Measures can then be taken to restore security before access is once again made available.

With data creation rates showing no signs of slowing, the volumes available for sharing with third parties will continue to climb. By taking advantage of secure data sharing techniques, in conjunction with a data marketplace, this sharing can be undertaken in a way that benefits all parties involved.

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