The Data Economy 

In its infancy

While data is now recognised as a critical factor of production, most countries, companies, and citizens do not fully grasp how to make sense out of the rapidly increasing amount of data available to them, or how to create value out of it. Most of the time, we fail to understand, unlock or grasp the real impact data has or will have on our society. At many levels, we are far from treating data as a strategic or critical asset. We are only at the infancy of the new data era.

The data difference

Why do we struggle to look at data strategically? Data can be very elusive. It can defy traditional economic perspectives. Increased production capabilities usually create lower prices. With data, it can be the opposite. Data only has value when combined with other relevant data. Second, the use of data by many does not diminish its quantity or value. And third, the same data can be used by different people at the same time. So, we need to design new ways of thinking related to data.

Leading the way

At Deloitte, we are convinced that data will determine the future of countries, companies, and citizens in many ways. Therefore, we decided to devote a substantial part of our research and efforts to leading the way in this territory together with our clients by a dedicated focus on the following 3 domains:

1. Data value

Our current societal rules about data ownership, data use and data access are broken. This insight is rapidly gaining ground and the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated this perception. The European Commission, for example, has worked to identify the high-value datasets across Europe that are of strategic importance to build a strong economy in the future. But this is only a first step. Where does the ownership of data lie? At the same time, many companies also realize that let’s say 80%* of their data is never put to work to serve their clients better. But they have not found a way to turn it into value for their clients yet...

2. Data management

The COVID-19 pandemic showcased that we have, at the same time, made enormous progress in managing data…. and – very painfully – that we are nowhere. We need a higher performing data infrastructure in our country that will allow taking full benefit of future Internet of Things applications in mobility, health, logistics, etc. Our companies need to further invest in managing in a more efficient way the instant availability, security and quality of their data. We have several successful global leaders in data software in Belgium, but data maturity is still unevenly spread over the sectors.

3. Data literacy

Data skills will determine how wealth will be (re)distributed between countries, companies and individuals and how inclusive our society will be. Therefore, data awareness, education and data culture must receive more attention at all levels of public authorities, private companies and social profit organizations. Deloitte is committed to move the needle and drive this area forward through collaborating with numerous organizations in defining and assessing their data maturity and skills and build and plan for the workforce of the future.

Clearly, data literacy also includes the ethical dimension of data. Artificial intelligence, for example, gives rise to many new ethical questions. Some of the algorithms in use today are gender biased: a man can get a higher loan than a woman can, even if they have the same risk profile. We are working to remove these biases, and techniques are being developed to be able to audit algorithms and the work of robots in the future.

data economy - value wheel

Make data work for you

There is certainly not a lack of data available. Harnessing the power of data creates value. Knowing how to use it strategically is what provides a competitive advantage

Over the coming 2 years, Deloitte will explore what the data economy means for countries, companies, and citizens. Together with our clients and partners, our experts will develop deeper insights into data value, data management, and data literacy, sharing research that will inspire you to create value for your organization and positively contribute to shaping the future of society.

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