• Digital Transformation

ERT Expert Paper – B2B Data Sharing

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In this paper we explain why data sharing should be incorporated at an early stage in product design, technical standards and corporate strategy.

Enterprise data is increasingly seen as both a strategic resource and essential utility for economic progress worldwide. New digital business models are shifting from closed, linear value chains to open, integrated ecosystems in which the ability to easily exchange data in a secure way is key.

The industrial data ecosystems being formed today will be tomorrow’s innovation platforms. Success or failure in the data economy is likely to determine which of the world’s powers will lead economically in the coming decades. Facing fierce competition and with time running out to act, Europe must seize its chance and put in place the building blocks that will enable it to thrive in the coming open economy for business data. Key planks of the EU’s legislative and policy agenda, from the Industrial Strategy and Digital Decade targets to the Data Strategy, should work in harmony to achieve this and unleash the potential of European business. The reward, if Europe succeeds, will be immense: global leadership in the next wave of digital transformation and a major boost to European growth, innovation and entrepreneurship.

When it comes to the data economy and business-to-business (B2B) data sharing, everything is still to play for. While Europe might have lost ground in the race for consumer platforms, thanks to its strong industrial base it
is well positioned to become the world leader in B2B data-driven business models.

To explore this area further, in December 2019 the European Round Table for Industry (ERT) launched the ‘B2B Data Sharing’ Taskforce to deepen its cross-industry understanding of data sharing and the use and re-use of that data in a B2B context. The Taskforce’s mission is to:

  • explore the business potential and business model of industrial data sharing,
  • identify bottlenecks to its development in Europe and
  • provide recommendations to overcome these.

The Taskforce members are senior executives of companies led by Members of ERT that drive B2B business strategies or data practices in their organisations.

Our report finds that, while B2B data sharing is growing in Europe, a number of challenges still need to be overcome to fulfil its potential and to become a global leader. To address these challenges, our report suggests a number of ways forward, with a focus on data protection and privacy, a secure and resilient cloud & edge infrastructure, common data standards and investment in data analytics capabilities.

We believe that industry’s efforts should be focused on putting access to data, data usage and creating value out of data at the heart of what European businesses do. Rather than being a mere afterthought, data sharing – where relevant – should be incorporated at an early stage in product design, technical standards and corporate strategy. Above all, this means putting in place the governance frameworks and technical capabilities needed for organisations to truly embrace data sharing as a core part of their activities.

And while, when it comes to B2B data sharing, industry should play the leading role, there is a clear part for policymakers to play in creating the policy framework and incentives that will secure Europe’s success. Our report provides a detailed set of policy recommendations for doing so.

We are on the cusp of a revolution in industrial data sharing. It will unlock huge benefits, in terms of growth, productivity and societal welfare, and contribute to Europe’s economic recovery from COVID-19. With its world-leading industrial companies, high levels of innovation and pioneering approach to digital regulation, Europe has all the assets needed to succeed in B2B data sharing. However, it must act now to avoid falling behind.