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Effective data sharing requires democratisation

the Data Sharing Coalition

Visma Connect is one of the organisations that are part of the Data Sharing Coalition. Visma Connect describes itself as the utility company of the digital society. By designing, building, connecting, analysing and managing information chains and data sharing ecosystems for the public, healthcare, logistics and financial sectors, it ensures secure, efficient and qualified digital information exchange. We spoke with Kim Andersen, CTO of Visma Connect about digital identification and its effects on data sharing. He strongly believes that identification and authorisation by means of an electronic ID would accelerate data sharing enormously.

Accelerate data sharing by agreeing upon a taxonomy
“From our experience, one of the most important data sharing initiatives that has happened over the last twenty years is Standard Business Reporting (SBR)”, Andersen starts. “SBR enables digital exchange of business reports, ensuring that companies can make informed decisions based on qualified data. This means that data is validated realtime and is correct and structured from the beginning. This was only by agreeing upon the taxonomy.”

“Agreeing upon a taxonomy is a big hurdle when organisations from different domains want to exchange their data.” says Andersen. “To do so, these organisations have to ‘speak the same language’ before they can actually trust data exchange. The truth is they don’t, which means organisations spend a great amount of time on double-checking and validating data. Take for example the process of buying a house, when data is shared between many parties and validated each single time throughout the process. A flow of information can run so much more efficiently and faster when data is validated from the start. Another benefit of working with structured data is that it ensures that data analysts can actually fully focus on analysing instead of cleaning, preparing or validating data, which still takes about 70 % of their time.

Effective data sharing requires democratisation
According to Andersen effective cross-sectoral data sharing means a changed ecosystem. “Some big companies have driven the agendas for many years and each forces smaller companies and individuals to comply with their own standards for data sharing. However, that egocentric way of thinking has not really benefited their customers or suppliers that much, but merely themselves. Moreover, because most of these big companies use their own standards, they force smaller companies and individuals to comply with multiple ones, which makes it an undoable job for them and therefore data sharing less attractive.”

“Effective data sharing requires a more democratic way of data sharing.” Andersen emphasizes. “This comes with diminishing the power of bigger companies by creating a level playing field that makes the barrier for all sorts of organisations and even individuals to share their data much lower. How? By agreeing on generic standards of cross-sectoral data sharing. Instead of working hard to comply with all sorts of different standards, this enables smaller companies or even self-employed people to get benefits from sharing their data as it is much easier to do so.”

“Within some sectors these agreements about standards exist already. Now it’s a matter of expanding and aligning all these frameworks and standards to create one ecosystem for secure information exchange instead of many. Although this is easier said than done, I see that many ecosystems are opening up and that’s a good thing. By working towards a framework for generic agreements of data sharing, The Data Sharing Coalition is highly stimulating this process.

Driving force that keeps like-minded people aligned
Moreover, a data sharing initiative can only succeed when parties show commitment, Kim says. “Key to that is the existence of a strong and inspiring party that serves as a driving force and keeps all parties – who tend to follow their own agenda – involved. This comes with ensuring that all parties feel heard and also spend enough time and effort on the data sharing initiative. Although setting up a clear governance supports that, let’s not forget the importance of the human factor in this: people do business with people. A data sharing initiative normally works best when people meet like-minded people, build on a good relationship and find each other in the drive to make an initiative a success. The Green Loans use case, that is developed within the Data Sharing Coalition, is a great example of an initiative where all the above comes together. All parties believe in the goal of the use case, which brings true benefits to all of them. And it doesn’t stop with talking, they actually show commitment by freeing up employees that jointly work on making it happen.”

Identification and authorisation by means of an electronic ID
According to Andersen, broader usage of an electronic ID could help to accelerate data sharing. “There are still too many ways to identify oneself, both on a consumer level, but also on a company level. Identification and authorisation by means of using an electronic ID would accelerate data sharing enormously. In the Netherlands, citizens can use a so-called DigiD, but only with regards to communication with the government itself. Imagine the possibilities when people could use their DigiD to connect to their bank to arrange a transaction. Not only as a consumer, but also as an employee working for a company. Through facilitating an electronic ID for all of its citizens –  including a post box which people can use to identify themselves and authorise others to use their data – the government could add the right ingredients for creating an efficient digital infrastructure.

About the author
The Data Sharing Coalition is an open and growing, international initiative in which a large variety of organisations collaborate on unlocking the value of cross-sectoral data sharing, under control of the entitled party. By enabling interoperability between data sharing initiatives and strengthening individual initiatives, cross-sectoral data sharing can be achieved. The initiative started in January 2020, after the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy invited the market to seek cooperation in pursuit of cross-sectoral data sharing. The Data Sharing Coalition welcomes organisations that support our goal and want to accelerate together. Are you interested to become a participant of the Data Sharing Coalition? Read more.

This article was originally published by the Data Sharing Coalition. Access the original here.

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