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In 2012, England spearheaded a global movement toward Open Data. The British government launched a data portal on the Internet that releases relevant public datasets for free use, analysis, and republication.

The idea behind their open data policy is that certain sets of data should be freely available for anyone to use and reuse as they wish. The British government’s goal with this initiative was “to empower citizens, foster innovation and reform public services,” according to the Honorable Francis Maude, the UK’s Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General. Their open data portal has been praised as one of the most important public policies of this generation.

In today’s data-rich world, private businesses are confronted with a new generation of tech-savvy employees that demand greater access to information. Executives can – and should – take a cue from the folks across the pond and begin leveraging “democratized data” to increase employee happiness, focus, motivation, and productivity.

What is “democratized data” for businesses?

Equal access to core information reflects the democratic values of intellectual autonomy, equality, and trust. For private businesses, core information could include:

  • Company’s historical pipeline data

  • Quarterly goals and results for the company as a whole

  • Individual employees’ quarterly goals and results

  • Company/product/service ratings and reviews

Why is an open data policy good for businesses?

The principal benefit of applying an open data policy to your company will be the increase in employee engagement and alignment with the company’s mission and goals. If your employees are not given access to reporting analytics tied to company-wide goals and performance, they could lose focus and feel disconnected from the larger strategy.

Free access to individual sales performance metrics will also hold your employees accountable for the quality of their work at all times, rather than just at the end of each month or quarter. This applies to the integrity of compensation plans, too. Make sure all your employees are assessed relative to one another and that everyone can see their numbers – as long as they are all treated according to their performance, they will trust the system and feel they are being cared for fairly.

We are at a threshold where more and more people feel they have a right to data transparency. It is just a matter of time before it becomes a norm in the business world.

What are the pros and cons of an open data policy in business? Have you tried it?

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