Is data the new currency?

Data is becoming ever more integral to our daily lives. There isn’t much we do now where someone isn’t interested in monitoring our behaviour, trying to understand it and adapting some service to better suit our requirements.

But do we consider the potential value of this data? Is there an element of monetisation that we will see more and more of in the coming years?

If currency is how we create and exchange economic value across geography and through time, surely, are we moving into an era where data has enough economic value to be considered as currency?

But what about in construction? Do we understand the value of our data? Or more importantly is construction maximising the impact it could have?

Data all around us

Whether we realise it or not, data, its collation and its use through information, form part of our personal as well as our work lives.

Calorie counting, step counting, working out the quickest route from A to B, snooping on Facebook or having the ability to utilise analytics for personal knowledge…

The fact that any unstructured data set can now be analysed quickly and easily provides us with the ability to easily trump our friends with questions such as ‘Name every Paul to have won the Premier League?’.

Now that is a silly use of data. However, to know the answer to that question, data has been created, aggregated and analysed by someone else that then in-turn creates information that brings me tremendous value through my ability to ‘one-up’ the WhatsApp group!

And what about construction

Almost everything we do in our industry creates data.

A buildings performance, it’s construction and operating cost, the wellbeing of our employees, the social value we create are just a few examples.

But, in an era where we are always talking about and collecting data through the use of tools such as BIM, IOT sensors, 4D programmes, and all sorts of other tech, do we truly appreciate and understand the value being created and, how much value we could create if we better used the data provided? If we turned the data into well understood information that informs better decision making and better performance

At a recent big data event, a speaker from IBM highlighted that system inefficiency was costing the building and transport infrastructure section £12.5Bn..

Imagine what we as an industry could do if we unlocked even a fraction of this?

The CE awards have already shown us some excellent examples of people who have managed to extract value (in the simplest sense saved ££ and increased ROI), through better analysing data.

The concept of monetizing data is central to a new field of study known as Infonomics, which involves the production and consumption of information and the transfer of money to produce, sell or obtain it

Are we undervaluing our data? And how/should we monetise the data we create?

Should we provide a fiscal value to the data we create?

Should we be able to trade upon the data we have? And how do we truly value that data?

If I have a dataset that can provide an underpinned cost and programme for Crossrail 2, the government would find immense value in this, wouldn’t they? But how do we place a fiscal value to this?

In today’s world the data marketplace can be generally broken into one four parts

  • Open Data providers
  • Data aggregators
  • Data for service
  • Data protectors

Each part of the marketplace will have a difference of opinion for the value of data, but once the marketplace is formed the economics of supply and demand and what we normally see with respect to more traditional commodities support the ability to provide value to the data in question.

How does open data impact its value?

the principle of giving away data to create fiscal value may not sound right, but datasets have great opportunity to generate value through the externalities created by its examination and the addition of context, knowledge and application.

the open data provider allows the data aggregator to manipulate the data and create functional applications that provide a service for others.

TFL have several examples where the release of traffic and infrastructure data have created new apps to maximise people’s ability and efficiency in utilising public transport within London.

But there is a scary side to all this…

We’ve all seen, hopefully not been subjected to the range of ‘hacks’ in recent times that have stolen and ransomed personal data.

Here are opportunistic people who have realised that they can leverage personal data or in a governments case, sensitive data for substantial portions of money.

What next?

This blog was never meant to answer the question it posed (sorry!) but simply set the scene for others to debate the subject at this year’s Constructing Excellence conference.

On the 12th December at the Tower of London, a group of industry leaders will debate the topic ‘Is data the new currency?’ If you’re interested in attending please register here.

You don’t have to wait till the event if you have a burning question to ask. Visit and join the conference #CE2017 where you can pose questions that could be used on the day.

We at Invennt are proud of our ongoing involvement with CE and being at the heart of a positive, value-driven construction industry and are pleased to again be part of and to sponsor this year’s conference.

We look forward to a lively debate and pressing for those in the room to pick up the mantle of turning words into action.