In part three of the series we will focus on sources of data beyond in-house transaction data and data collected from social listening, and the impact of the Internet and Cloud Computing on both the distribution of data and the business models that are evolving around that data. Data brokers, that is, companies that aggregate and sell personal data are not a new concept. Companies like Dun & Bradstreet, Experion, Equifax and others have packaged and sold data for business use for many years. These data brokers sold data used for all sorts of marketing compaign from snail mail to email. While this data helped with segmentation it had many limitations, and in an environment where people are always connected and expect real time interaction, the data is just to static and outdated. With the addition of Internet advertising and now social networks and social media as advertising channels the need for data is even higher, but that data cannot be stale and static or it is in effect useless.

The Internet is creating new opportunities in the collection / aggregation and distribution of data. As more business functions look to move to a data driven model, there is a need for many new data types, and for a more rapid way to distribute that data. In other words, the need is growing in business and the Internet is creating the vehicle for meeting that growing need. Marketing is a big consumer of data, but outside that sales, customer service and even product / service development is becoming more data focused. We've already seen that big data, or more specifically smart data can be valuable but only when enough relevant data can be found to create accurate models. Small data, or distributed data sets are also impacted by the need for more relevant data to feed the process and extend the completeness of the data sets.  Data brokers then, can step in to help make the model more complete, but to meet the new business demands, have to become "cloud" enabled.

A new group of data brokers, or maybe more accurately value added content providers are emerging to fill this gap. The new broker uses the Internet and cloud computing to create data marketplaces that can be more time relevant and can provide massive quantities of contextual information / content. In fact this new business model, data as a service (DaaS) could be an opportunity for existing social networks, Internet businesses and other entrants to step in and fill the need. Twitter is already monitizing it's "fire hose" data feed and recently acquied Gnip, a data marketplace. Companies like Uber (although under fire a bit for it's data handling practices currently) or Airbnb, who hold quite a bit of useful data could get into the game int he future. Software vendors like Oracle (Data Cloud product), Microsoft (Azure Data Marketplace), and IBM (Watson Content Store) are growing very competitive offerings. Social media monitoring vendors like Attensity are competing with their own marketplace and Gnip competitors like Datasift are in the game as well. As you can see the business of value added content is exploding with data aggregators, original content publishers, search engines and other brokers all coming at the data problem from different angles.

This new and rapidly growing area is still in it's infancy but is providing a lot of value to the business consumers of data by providing a very robust data set and in a model that is generally offered as a service (subscription) and in a much more timely and contextual Internet delivered model. The next few years will see many more of these services developed as other holes in enterprise data sets will need to be solved. There are still a lot of issues of course, as with any business model that is growing rapidly. Growing pains around privacy, data governance, security and probably a few things we haven't even thought of yet, will need to be addressed quickly to prevent public backlash. I expect that governments will get even more interested in the subject as well, although both the US Government and the EU have already started down that path. It's an interesting area, and one that has a lot of potential to add value as companies struggle to turn data into actionalble strategies and tactics.