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Open Data and the Coming Revolution – NOT!

by Andrew White  |  February 4, 2014  |  4 Comments

Interesting article in today’s US print edition of the Wall Street journal titled, “Rivals band together in search for new drugs“. 

Many who have looked at Open Data have heralded it as a game changer.  It is, apparently, going to change many things, from how we run our businesses, how we gather information, to even changing the laws of competition.  Well I am still a little skeptical of all the hoopla.  I have a little more faith in the basics: competition, collaboration and ‘cloberation’ each have their place and I don’t see anything unpredictable about this changing with Open Data.

The article in question suggests that a group of otherwise competing pharmaceutical companies will collaborate where they used to compete.  The change in relationship is taking place in the early drug development phase, specially focused on Alzheimer’s.  The fact is that drug discovery research is extremely expensive and risky.  Even to the point that the risk may I fact be too great for any one firm to meet, and so a newly agreed limit to where competition starts has emerged.

The fact is that competition is not dead at all.  The firms in question have agreed to pool their resources, from the earliest part of the research phase, up to a point in the research program before development even starts.  No member gets any advantage, and cannot even use the data, until it is made public, and so available to all- even those not involved in the early work. 

So the laws of competition have not changed.  What has changed is the dialog about where to draw the boundaries around shared risk and reward.  This is not a new dialog.  Anyone seriously involved in developing business to business collaboration knows this dialog well.  But Open Data and programs like it are certainly bringing such dialogs more into the open.  That I can accept and encourage.

Category: enterprise-information-management-eim  information-innovation  information-leadership  information-management  open-data  

Andrew White
Research VP
8 years at Gartner
22 years IT industry

Andrew White is a research vice president and agenda manager for MDM and Analytics at Gartner. His main research focus is master data management (MDM) and the drill-down topic of creating the "single view of the product" using MDM of product data. He was co-chair… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Open Data and the Coming Revolution – NOT!

  1. Hi Andrew,

    Like open source, open data can take many forms. A parallel could be made between the case you describe and – for example – car manufacturers collaborating on an infotainment platform (see the GENIVI alliance: But open source is also academic institutions releasing research work, software vendors engaging with a community to build software better/faster, or innovative end users contributing internally-developed works (as we know, this is how Hadoop was born).

    Because open source has been around for a while now, these differences are well understood. Open data is a newer concept, and a lot of confusion still exists. From collaboration within an industry to access to census information, the spectrum is broad.

    One thing is clear though: open data opens new horizons. Not so much a revolution, more like a part of the evolution?

  2. Andrew White says:

    Hi Yves, thanks for the response. Yes, I would agree with your conclusion.

  3. […] Many who have looked at Open Data have heralded it as a game changer. It is, apparently, going to change many things, from how we run our businesses, how we gather information, to even changing the laws of competition.  […]

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