The analogy of data and oil stems from the British mathematician Clive Humby and is based on the fact that both data and oil need a certain amount of effort before their full potential can be leveraged. Oil needs to be refined and data needs to be processed to gain maximum value. Besides this, data and oil do not have much in common. Indeed, data is the basis for the technologies that are increasingly disrupting the ways we work, commute and communicate. However, in multiple aspects data, in particular open data, wins over oil.
Nine benefits of open data compared to oil:
- Open data is comparably easy and quick to transport even over long distances.
- Open data is non-rivalrous.
- Open data increases in value with more people making use of it.
- The value chain of data is infinitely long.
- The life cycle of open data is circular since it can be reused interminably.
- The open data market has low entry barriers.
- Open data comes for free or at marginal costs.
- The amount, the quality and the accessibility of data will increase in the future.
- Open data can be generated, processed and shared by anyone.
It is a question for society, politics and businesses how we shape our future data economy and its actors. Open Knowledge Belgium describes the open data utopia as: "A world where knowledge creates power for the many, not the few." Everyone can contribute to this world, for example following Bernard Marr's proclamation not to hide (open) data in silos and sell it but share it within the freedom of our data regulations to create impact.