Making Better Use of Data Through Collaborating

Data represents an underutilized — and in many instances, plentiful — resource across industries. 

While many of us are only beginning to tap into data in our business, the broad challenge across industries today is how to make better use of the massive amounts of data available. Outside of the obvious tech innovators, here are some examples of efforts to collectively leverage data and drive innovation within leading business sectors.


Aggregating and analyzing healthcare data is full of challenges, with two major ones being security and access — patient data is typically stored in different formats on different networks that makes it difficult to share. Through the Sanford Data Collaborative, Sanford Health (a $4.5 billion integrated health care system) is overcoming both. In partnership with medical and academic institutions across the country, Sanford is providing external researchers access to previously constrained data, and collaborating with them in order to deliver new data-driven insights to improve healthcare.  

In 2017, the project is in the process of piloting a prescriptive algorithm based on past patient data to predict the risk of unplanned medical visits and increase patient engagement. They’re also exploring predictors of provider turnover and retention, which can impact access to and continuity of care for patients.

Travel & Hospitality

Open source projects — software that’s available to the public for anyone to use and/or modify — are continuing to gain popularity, perhaps due in part to the collective data access and reciprocal business value gained by participants. Companies within the travel and hospitality industry are using them to their advantage, and Airbnb is a prime example. Data is core to operations of the online rental marketplace that uses it to better understand their users and tailor their platform to the customer needs.

 “Look to the open source world: there are a lot of good resources for data infrastructure in the open source community and we try to adopt those systems,”

the Airbnb engineering team wrote in 2016 about the philosophy behind their data infrastructure. “Furthermore, if we build something useful ourselves and it is feasible to give it back to the community, we reciprocate.” Airbnb has participated in open projects such as Apache Airflow, an open source platform to access and monitor workflows. You can view all of Airbnb’s open source projects on their website.


Industries with complex processes like energy seek to benefit from largescale data efforts to standardize operations and increase safety. Open process automation (OPA), initiated by ExxonMobil and managed by The Open Group is one of them. Process automation systems have always been highly proprietary, making them difficult to maintain and update, especially as we see advances in computer hardware, and a growing need for more rapid technology insertion among increased competition and cybersecurity risks. 

The open data project aims to create a standard, secure process control architecture to simplify operations and assist with plant optimization to be leveraged across sectors. The project is currently in the proof-of-concept stage, and is reported to be ready on-process use as soon as 2021.

In Summary

Collective data projects are emerging across industries and driving rapid innovation, tackling large-scale issues that may greatly improve companies’ ability to leverage business insights in tangible ways.

Is your organization participating in collective data projects to drive innovation? If so, we want to hear from you. Please contact us at

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