Chief data officer as business developer

Photo: Code for America
Photo: Code for America

I occasionally get asked about thoughts on how to increase open data consumption, and think about this more and more, especially as it increasingly becomes an issue for those seeking validation and return on investment.

Often, the target focus is local (businesses, organizations, hackers), which is important, but one of the biggest missed opportunities with respect to government and open data is that there’s not a more aggressive, proactive reach to larger data-focused companies that would value, consume and re-purpose this information at scale.

Government open data leaders should have a “10x” business development strategy and be proactive in connecting with high-demand data “customers.” This is where data consumption really can scale.

If I was a chief data officer, one of my first action items would be to compile a list of companies, starting with the Open Data 500 list and reach out to them based on the data I’ve released (health, energy, etc.).

I would also proactively reach out to these companies to find out what data they’re interested in that government might be able to provide. This could help determine data release schedule/priority or expose low-hanging fruit opportunities and leverage quick wins. Having an established demand also makes it easier to convince internal stakeholders of the value and gives them an incentive to be more proactive in opening the data they manage.

Collaborating with the business community up front ensures there’s a market demand for this raw material of data. As government open data leaders look for validation, return on investment and mass adoption of this information, government data leaders would do well to put on their business development hats and reach out sooner than later.

About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

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