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In 1939, the first Marvel comic book hit the newsstands. It was the beginning of an epic 80-year tale of transformation that would take Marvel from a bankrupt company in a dying industry to its current reign as a multimedia juggernaut whose wildly popular movies alone have grossed $18 billion.

Data transformation: the use of data, digital technology and analytics
to reinvent products, processes and business models

On one hand, Marvel’s comeback is a textbook case of using data, digital technology and analytics to reinvent products, processes and business models. But in an era in which some 70-90 % of digital transformation initiatives fail, it’s an achievement that may seem like as much of a fluke as being transformed into a superhero by a radioactive spider bite¹.

But it’s not a fluke. Marvel’s digital transformation succeeded in large part because it was people-centered, and bottom-up. The company’s success in transporting its ‘people-first’ superheroes from the comic book world to the digital entertainment universe is due, in large part, to Marvel’s faith its behind-the-scene heroes. They were empowered to experiment with data, analytics, and digital technologies across business, creative and technical divisions, with Marvel scaling up what worked. It’s a strategy that has enabled all teams to act as one in extending and enriching the innovative, interconnected universe of Marvel heroes and storylines.


Marvel’s bottom-up, people-centered approach is now emerging as a common pattern in successful digital transformations. Recent research shows that the companies that have achieved the highest level of digital maturity have top executives that are leading a cultural transformation, not a technological one. They encourage collaboration, risk-taking, agility and continuous learning. And they provide managers and team leaders with the time and support they need to devise experiments with data and digital technologies. They then roll out experiments that work company-wide.

"Early and developing companies [low digital maturity] push dig- ital transformation through managerial directive or by technology provision. In contrast, maturing companies tend to pull digital transformation by cultivating the conditions that are ripe for transformation to occur.²"

MIT Sloan Management Review & Deloitte

Data sharing platforms help everyone get in the swing of sharing, using and reusing data to communicate, learn, and innovate.

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1. McKinsey, 70 %; Michael Gael, co-author The Digital Helix: Transforming Your Organ- ization’s DNA to Thrive in the Digital Age, 84 %; Couchbase/Vanson Bourne Digital Innovation Survey, 90 %.

2. “Are You Taking the Wrong Approach to Digital Transformation?” Gerald C. Kane, MIT Sloan Management Review, November, 2017. 


It’s a strategy that places innovation in the hands of the people closest to products, day-to-day processes and customers, and lets people use their existing skills to build their own data capabilities - and a company data culture - from the ground up.

"Disruption is taking place at the grassroots level, and percolating upward. As low-level successes are achieved and word spreads across enterprises, adoption will spread as well.³"

Joe McKendrick, Forbes

“Digital Business Report: Global Executive Study and Research Project”,
MIT Sloan Management Review & Deloitte, July, 2017.


If you want to experiment with data, the best place to begin is with people, of course. Think about what would make your own job easier, and how you could better serve those who rely on you, whether they be your staff, customers, suppliers, partners, public constituents, or investors. Then, think about what data could help you achieve these goals.

"Digital transformation begins and ends with how you think about, and engage with, customers."


Most likely the data you need already exists, but it may be lost in a maze of files and folders, databases and business applications. It may even be information from outside your organization, like demographic or weather data, or a partner or supplier’s records. Perhaps, though, you are not entirely sure what data would be most helpful.

Data sharing platforms help everyone get in the swing of sharing, using and reusing data
to communicate, learn, and innovate.

This is where a data sharing platform can play a key role. It is technology that can break through information silos so people can find the data they are looking for, or discover valuable data they didn’t know existed. And, it makes it possible for everyone to get in the swing of sharing, using and reusing data to communicate, learn, and innovate.


Let’s begin by defining ‘platform.’ A platform is a flexible software application that can support day-to-day tasks but also lets you build new things on top of it. A ‘data sharing platform’ is a special platform that lets people gather, search and visualize information we call “data” from just about any source – inside or outside of an organization. The people using it can share the data visualizations they have built, as well as giving others access to source data so they can build their own visualizations, pull the data into other applications, or build entirely new software applications.

Data sharing surfaces your most valuable data assets.

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In addition, data sharing platforms have built-in monitoring and analytics so you and your organization can begin to get a clear picture of which data people find most valuable, and how they are using it. The use of data sharing platforms is growing rapidly as it is a technology that brings together different data-related tools in one place. A data sharing solution allows you to:


Today’s business applications – especially analytics applications - need data from a lot of sources. But getting multi-source data properly sorted out, cleaned up and consistent enough to use takes a lot of time. For example, data scientists typically spend up to 80 % of their time not analyzing data but gathering and pre- paring data for analysis! Self-service data preparation tools reduce this burden by simplifying and automating the data collection and preparation process.

The biggest obstacle to using advanced data analysis isn’t skill base or technology; it’s plain old access to the data.⁴

Edd Wilder-James (Google), HBR


Data catalogs are used to create a library, or inventory, of data collections. They let people collect and prepare from a lot of different sources, and enable everyone to find data using Google-style natural language searches. They also often offer collaborative tools like descriptive tagging that make data more meaningful and easier to find. In short, data catalogs offer a valuable one-stop shop for finding useful data.


Self-service data visualization apps enable business users to analyze data and tell data stories using maps, charts and graphs, without having to call on IT or analyst staff. Tools like drop-down menus and drag-and-drop widgets make these apps easy to use, and they can really help organizations democratize the use of analytics and build a data culture.


Data publishing (or Data-as-a-Service) solutions make it simple for those outside your team to access and reuse your data. They make it easy to download data, or to set up a live feed that injects the data into external applications, for example, feeding real-time bus data into a mobile commute planning app. The connections for these feeds (application programming interfaces, or APIs) can also be used to publish data to third party data portals and marketplaces.

By 2020, 90 % of large enterprises will be generating revenue from data-as-a-service.⁵

Popular uses of data publishing software include providing data access to far-flung employee teams, partners, suppliers, major customers, or to the general public (open data solutions).

Data publishing provides a great way to generate economic value from your data.

Data cataloging, preparation, and analysis are converging. Convergence, however, does not elim- inate the need for interoperability, as self-service analysts often want to make their own choices of preparation and analysis tools.⁶

Dave Wells, Practice Director, Data Management Eckerson Group

A well-made data sharing platform makes all the capabilities above easy to use for both experienced analysts and non-technical business users. And, it should also feature simple plug-and-play integration with existing tools people are already successfully using, like a favorite data visualization app.

In addition, a good data sharing platform should offer a cloud-based subscription model for easy experimentation and scaling.

By 2025, more than a quarter of all data created will be real-time.⁷

Furthermore, such platforms should provide a single hub for data from any source, including enterprise data, commercial data, public open source data, and (importantly) real-time machine and sensor data.

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4. “Breaking Down Data Silos,” Edd Wilder-James, Harvard Business Review, December, 2016.

5. IDC FutureScape: Worldwide IT Industry 2018 Predictions, October, 2017.

6. “Choosing a Data Catalog,” Dave Wells, Practice Director, Data Management, Eckerson Group, September, 2018.


Data sharing platforms are being used by teams large and small in almost every industry, but they are more common in some. The more common industries so far (unsurprisingly) are those that generate or manage large quantities of information, including those that rely on information from connected products.

These leading sectors include government, utilities (e.g., energy distribution, water & waste management), construction (infrastructure and buildings), transportation and mobility, telecommunications, and financial services (banking and insurance).

Leading organizations in these sectors have developed innovative initiatives using data sharing platforms that provide data access to all stakeholders, inside and outside the organization, at all levels. This data access enables heroes throughout each organization to generate value in new, unexpected ways.

Four of the top ways in which these heroes are using data sharing platforms are for:


One important way of using a data sharing platform is to extract economic value from your data by creating a data product. The product can be a paid offer that generates new revenue, or it can be a free offer that adds value and uniqueness to an existing product or service. You can use the platform to offer packaged datasets and data visualizations, or allow customers to access source data directly for their own reuse.



Axis Communications subsidiary Citilog makes smart cameras and software for traffic monitoring and control. The company’s customers valued Citilog’s technology, but they had a challenge: they lacked the resources for collecting and storing the massive sensor and video data the system generated. Citilog’s CEO, Eric Toffin, saw a solution in Opendatasoft. He and his R&D team used the data sharing platform to set up a central Citilog-branded hub to provide individual data storage and access for each customer. The experiment was so successful that Citilog used the platform to create a new data product: the Citilog CTCloud platform. In addition to using data for automated processes like adaptive traffic signal control, Citilog can now offer each CTCloud customer an easy, affordable solution for monitoring real-time traffic operations, accessing archival data for analysis, and advancing their own digital transformation. Citilog’s customers can also apply their branding to CTCloud, and offer data sharing as a value-added service for their own stakeholders. It’s a high-impact solution that has won awards for its valuable role helping initiatives like Atlanta’s Smart Corridor Project succeed (USA).

Read the Customer Story

    • BIRDZ

VEOLIA subsidiary Birdz provides smart water management systems for water infrastructure and home plumbing systems. The sensors Birdz deploys throughout these networks collect millions of data points daily to control quality and detect possible leaks. Birdz’ Sensor Networks Project Manager, Marie Maurel, and Director of Business Development and Innovation, Cyrille Lemoine, wanted to find a fast and affordable way to use this data to add value to their offer and generate new revenue. They chose Opendatasoft’s data sharing platform. They now use the cloud platform as a single hub from which they rapidly deliver customized, real-time quality and performance dashboards. They also use the platform to give customers direct access to their own data, which they can combine with internal and public data to perform advanced analytics.

See also the profile of Smarteo Water’s City Flow data product, and our blog article “Smart Water Management & Open Data.”


Data sharing platforms help drive data innovation and data-based decision making at the team level. Private data sharing fosters collaboration inside and across departments, and between organizations and external partners. They provide a secure central hub for everyone to discover data assets, and to learn to tell data stories with data. This helps surface the most valuable data assets, and gets everyone involved in monetizing data and building a data-driven organization.


Schneider Electric a global specialist in energy management and automation with operations in more than 100 countries. The company views data analytics as a core part of its digital transformation strategy, and created a data science team dedicated to developing innovative new digital offers. But Schneider Electric’s Cyril Perducat, Executive Vice President, IoT & Digital Transformation, was navigating a serious challenge: his data science team was spending far more time collecting and preparing data for analysis than analyzing data. So he and his team decided to use Opendatasoft’s data sharing platform to create an internal data catalog (the ‘Analytics Data Library’) that data scientists could use company-wide. The Opendatasoft platform automates data collection and transforms raw data into the formats data scientists, researchers and developers expect. This has freed the data scientists to focus on their core expertise and mission: using advanced analytics to create innovative new IoT and digital offers.

For a conversation about Open Data and Big Data in the context of data science, read the interview with Emmanuel Letouzé.

    • GRDF

GRDF is the main natural gas distribution network operator in France, serving 11 million customers in more than 9500 cities. Though GRDF already had a well-established data culture, GRDF’s Information Systems Division (ISD) had a challenge. As the ISD’s Data and Exchanges Unit Manager, Nathalie Barthélémy, noted, the challenge was breaking down data silos and improving the circulation of the company’s key referential data: “We needed an easy-to-use toolbox to give anyone with important data the ability to make that data available to others.” In coordination with ISD GRDF’s Open Data Project Manager, they selected Opendatasoft’s data sharing platform to provide easy yet controlled access to core assets company-wide for analysis, research and application development. This success of this initiative led GRDF to extend secure access to select partners and customers. They eventually extended this data sharing even further by offering select data to the general public as open data.

Download the GRDF Case Study to learn more.


Data sharing platforms let municipal governments centralize and share the IoT data the city and its partners generate in real-time. It’s a strategy that places a city and its partners at the center of a connected ecosystem to unleash innovation.

    • WAZE

In 2014, Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, launched the Connected Citizens program to enable two-way data sharing with cities. The program enables Waze to enhance its app with real-time and advance information from cities about traffic conditions and planning. And cities are able to enhance their transportation and mobility data services with real-time, crowd-sourced information from Waze users. One challenge, though, has been that small- and medium-sized often lack the technical skills needed for the program’s data exchange. So, Opendatasoft partnered with Waze so its data sharing platform could provide a simple, comprehensive and affordable way for all cities to participate. For the city of Lille’s Open Data Director, the value of the program and partnership was obvious and compelling, and he led the way for Lille to be the first city to use the Opendatasoft data sharing platform to join the Waze Connected Citizens program. The city almost immediately began to reap rewards from this public/private data sharing arrangement: reduced traffic, faster incident response, and lower maintenance costs by verifying incident and equipment malfunctions before dispatching resources.

For more information, read the Waze-Opendatasoft partnership announcement, and our blog posts on data sharing and smart parking, data sharing and mobility.


A longtime champion of open data, the city of Bristol wanted to take their open data portal to the next level by incorporating new data streams coming from smart city solutions, like real-time data on car park occupancy, bus services and air quality. They chose Opendatasoft’s data sharing platform to publish this live sensor data alongside existing open data, making it available to a diverse community of data producers, government and resident stakeholders, journalists, academics, and tech start-ups. The platform enables business users to filter and combine datasets, create custom dashboards, and reuse visualizations as communication tools to share important metrics and tell stories with data. Matthew Davenport, Bristol Open Data Project Manager, notes that the data sharing platform enables city staff and Bristol’s community partners to deepen their connection with data. As a result, the city is advancing its smart-city digital transformation, and helping a wide community to build data skills as well on the way to a better Bristol.

For more on this topic, see the Q&A with IDC’s Ruthbea Yesner, VP, IDC Government Insights and Smart Cities.


A data sharing platform makes an ideal open data portal for publicly sharing information and engaging with your stakeholders. Once offered mainly by governments, scientific organizations and other non-profits, open data platforms are increasing being offered by private businesses as well.

    • PARIS

In 2010, the French capital became one of the first cities to commit to making make all its structured data accessible by open license. Led by the city’s Chief Data Officer, the goal of the open data program was transparency, accountability, and the desire to use data to drive innovation in city services. Attracted by Opendatasoft’s ability to handle real-time data and to auto-generate APIs for application development, the city chose Opendatasoft’s data sharing platform to launch its initial open data portal. The portal first provided access and data visualization for the city’s own data, then it expanded to include data contributions by public and private partners. It also integrated datasets from IoT/smart city pilots, like the Smart City Square project developed in partnership with Cisco. The city has further leveraged their portal to deliver a municipal performance dashboard, to feed regional government and private partner open data portals, and to provide the data fuel for DataCity, a start-up accelerator which seeks to find solutions to urban challenges through open innovation. To date, the DataCity program has produced data-based innovations to address urban challenges in domains including energy, waste and water management, mobility and logistics, public safety, and building and housing.


Antonio Vidigal, CEO of EDP Inovação (the innovation arm of Energias de Portugal), led an initiative to launch a new data portal in conjunction with Wind Europe, the wind energy sector’s largest conference. Built on Opendatasoft’s data sharing platform, the portal provided API access to data for the conference’s Hack the Wind hackathon event. The hackathon was devoted to finding new solutions to operational problems affecting wind turbines. The value of the platform during the hackathon convinced EDP to keep the open data portal open, and include more data from other business units. As Vidigal explains, “by giving access to our data, we allow the users to freely define their own reuses and return to us with excellent solutions to the problems that the energy industry is facing.” Today, EDP uses open data to supply the tech start-up community with data for reuse, to provide resources for the scientific community, and to spur the creation of new tools and solutions with an AI component. “We expect to encourage people to extract value from these data, share insights, improve knowledge, and be part of the ongoing energy sector transformation with us,” says Vidigal.

To learn more, read our blog post “EDP – Powering a Data-Fueled Energy Revolution”.


Whether used for public open data projects, for private data sharing, for the development of data products, or for the advancement of IoT-based solutions, data sharing platforms are a foundational technology for bot- tom-up digital transformation, and for the monetization of data assets. Accordingly, a data sharing platform can help you:

  • Democratize analytics and build a data culture
  • Lower costs by optimizing business processes
  • Increase revenue with innovative data-based products and services

Data sharing provides a uniquely people-centered pathway to digital transformation because it can help everyone – regardless of their technical skills – begin building the digital skills the 21st century workplace demands. At the same time, the platforms can help reveal valuable digital assets and bring them into everyday use.

Rather than focusing on techno- logical advancements and waiting for their workforces to catch up, business- es should deploy technologies that suit the skills employees already have.⁸

Perry Krug, CTO at Couchbase

Whether you are a CEO, a CIO, a CDO, a department manager, Product director, Innovation manager or team leader, you can use data sharing to make your work more visible and meaningful, to help your people gain new skills, to build cross-departmental collaboration, and to better serve your customers and your organization. In short, you can become the digital transformation hero your organization needs.


The Opendatasoft market-leading data sharing solution allows users to easily publish, manage, combine, analyze, visualize, and share real-time data in a variety of formats on a single platform. Opendatasoft operates in 18 countries with clients ranging from small companies and towns (including the City of Paris, Brussels, Bristol, Eindhoven, or Vancouver in Canada) to large multinationals (Schneider Electric, Indigo, Energias de Portugal (EDP), Veolia, Total, Enedis, Saint-Gobain).


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8. “Busting five myths of digital transformation,” Perry Krug, CTO at Couchbase, Information Age, January, 2019.

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