Competitive Advantage
Business Intelligence


Huge comprehensive and accurate data sets covering a wide range of topics held by public bodies and large companies can be used to MAKE MONEY.

It’s not just for the tech savvy wanting to create a hot new app either. ​

OPEN DATA can become an integral part in

IMPROVING business intelligence, planning and research.

Here’s an introductory guide to structuring a plan

And cherry picking the best of what’s available online.

Your first step, RESEARCH

Your biggest challenge will be DEFINING your QUESTIONS.

To help you to define what you need to focus upon begin by asking and answering questions. Talk to your staff, your customers or clients and seek to understand your competition.

Your next step is to NOT, reinvent the wheel.

Find out what data sets have already been completed. Don’t think a particular dataset isn’t available there is a good chance it has and if it hasn’t you can probably create one from a combination of sources.

NEXT – locate your resources.

You probably already have many of the tools you need if you don’t – there are FREE tools to get you up and running.

For example, many open data resources provide downloadable CSV files.

 Using Microsoft (MS) Excel, you will be able to interrogate your CSV files using tools such as power map, power query, power pivot & Power BI.

There are other tools such as Datawrapper, Quadrigram and Tableau.

Developing visional representation of your data queries – will help you to make sense of your data.

Next build a team

The more complex your project the greater the likelihood is; you will discover gaps in the range of skills available within your organisation so be prepared to supplement your team with outside resources. You will also need to think about the long-term implications of the project.

Open data is by in large free to use.

However, costs may be incurred if you use huge volumes of data.

The data can be adopted for proprietary purposes, but that doesn’t mean you own that data.

For example, if you, setup a company using open data then go on to sell the company you must declare your use of third party data sets.

If you fail do so you could face a legal claim even if years have passed.

Of course if do declare this your intellectual property value probably reduces.


  • Open Data Institute – Founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a not-for-profit organisation providing advice, training and ideas for data gatherers.
  • – UK government’s datasets covering areas such as crime, health and education.
  • Ordnance Survey – Free access to maps of roads, water networks, electoral boundaries and more, and built in to Bing Maps.

Christopher Bird Author