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Executive Survey Shows the Benefits of Data Innovation Across the Whole Economy

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There are pervasive myths and misconceptions about how data innovation is transforming the global economy, from the idea that it’s all about so-called “Big Data” (in fact, analyzing even small data sets can produce useful insights) to the false notion that all data is personal information (when discoveries are being made from data sources such as wind turbines, jet engines, financial markets, crop harvests, traffic patterns and energy consumption).

Today we released a new survey that sets right another such myth — that big tech companies and Silicon Valley start-ups are the main beneficiaries of data innovation. The reality is that data tools are catalysts for innovation and growth across the whole economy, and the benefits of that innovation and growth accrue to society as a whole.

We commissioned Ipsos Public Affairs to poll 1,500 senior executives and business decision-makes across the United States and Europe about the role of data analytics in their companies. We found a number of things that were surprising:

  • First, data analytics are important to companies of all types and sizes — including an overwhelming majority (60 percent) of small businesses with 50 or fewer employees.
  • Second, data analytics can contribute to job growth. Sixty-one percent of senior executives in the US and 58 percent in Europe say data analytics are important to their companies’ plans to hire more employees.
  • Third, eight out of 10 respondents overall say data analytics are important to their companies’ plans to better serve their customers’ needs.

It’s clear that data innovation will be increasingly important to how companies across the economy do business. The question is: how do we ensure we are maximizing the opportunities?

BlogEUDataSurveyData is inherently borderless, making the digital economy a global economy. That is why it is critical that we have global trade rules that promote data innovation. But currently there are no global standards in place to ensure that data can move freely across borders.

Chief negotiators from 12 countries are converging this week in Washington to continue hammering out the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). That agreement — and the ongoing US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — present important opportunities to establish 21st century trade standards that enable data to flow across borders. That’s why BSA is urging trade negotiators to seize the moment and create the beginnings of a global framework to promote open markets and prevent protectionist measures such as server-location requirements that could undermine the architecture of the Internet and stifle data innovation.

Equally important is the need to build public trust in the underpinnings of the digital economy. That trust has been shaken in the aftermath of the Snowden/NSA disclosures. We must strike the right balance between essential privacy protections and governments’ need to access data for legitimate national security and law enforcement purposes. These are difficult issues, but our survey shows that getting them right will have an enormous payoff.

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Victoria Espinel

Author:

Victoria Espinel is a respected authority on the intersection of technology innovation, global markets and public policy. She leads strategic efforts that help shape the technology landscape in 60 countries through work in BSA’s 10 global offices.

Espinel also serves as the President of Software.org: the BSA Foundation. Software.org is an independent and nonpartisan international research organization created to help policymakers and the broader public better understand the impact that software has on our lives, our economy, and our society.

Espinel served for a decade in the White House, for both Republican and Democratic Administrations as President Obama’s advisor on intellectual property and, before that, as the first ever chief US trade negotiator for intellectual property and innovation at USTR. She was also a professor of international trade and intellectual property at the George Mason School of Law.

Espinel is a founding and ongoing co-sponsor of Girls Who Code’s Washington, DC, summer immersion program, which empowers young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. She speaks before audiences around the world to build visibility for the amazing things people can do with software, and encourages businesses, governments, and the public to support a policy environment that will enable even more software breakthroughs.

Espinel chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Digital Economy and Society. She was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), the principal advisory group for the US government on international trade. She holds an LLM from the London School of Economics, a JD from Georgetown University Law School, and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriaespinel.

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