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Image: Sturvey "Datenpotenziale", Cover © TSB


How can we put data utilisation into practice? This is the very question a recent study conducted by the Berlin Technology Foundation pursues. At the heart of the survey: practical examples from Berlin. 

With the increase in digitalisation, the quantity of available corporate data has also risen worldwide; this entails both opportunities and risks. It is being discussed, for example, to what extent data could be used to optimise processes, whether internally or beyond company boundaries, and what role they could play in developing and monitoring targets that are geared towards the common good. However, how data is used locally, and for what purpose, is often still abstract. A new study, titled “Data Potentials – How to Put Data Utilisation into Practice” ("Datenpotenziale – Wie Datennutzung in der Praxis gelingt“), conducted by the Berlin Technology Foundation (“Technologiestiftung Berlin”, TSB), uses concrete practical examples from Berlin to illustrate how data is utilised at local level and what potential for added value can result from this.

At the heart of the study are 22 qualitative interviews with Berlin entrepreneurs, researchers, civic organisations and authorities, conducted by author Anett Kuntosch between January and November 2022. These examples illuminate aspects that are particularly relevant for Berlin: resource efficiency, micro-businesses, consulting in data projects and the gathering and utilisation of urban data. Funded by the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises, the study furthermore points to specific challenges in data utilisation and explains how these may be countered; in addition, key concepts and terms are explained at macro level. 

The TSB study emphasises the relevance of data potentials for companies by providing an impressive figure: to date, around 84 percent of German companies are not yet fully utilising data within the scope of their business models; they thus belong to the category known as “digital beginners”. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) primarily use data to optimise processes step by step or gradually increase efficiency; innovative data utilisation is rare. According to the TSB study, the reasons for this lie in data strategies that have not been aligned at management level; insufficient resources; the low quality of data; and concerns around data protection. It therefore proposes that companies that lack the according digital maturity redesign their processes and strategic approaches. Besides low-barrier and pragmatic access to the subject of data utilisation, the study primarily recommends new management approaches. Accelerating innovation processes and establishing a culture of error could also be important factors, depending on company and industry.

Another key result of the study shows: while start-ups tend to consider data utilisation from day one, small existing companies often need to catch up. As the study explains, generational change is often a good opportunity to review one’s own business model and introduce digitalisation, as companies tend to be open to innovation. When it comes to specific challenges in the field of smart cities and/or urban data, the study mentions examples that include the joint development of target knowledge, the management of data projects and scaling.

In order to effectively reduce corporate inhibitions towards data utilisation and close gaps in expertise, the TSB study closes by suggesting to design a series of events that focus on the principles of data utilisation and methodological knowledge. (vdo)




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