The amount of information in the socio-economical exchange is increasing exponentially. A growing number of companies have developed services for aggregating, storing, analysing and enriching these information flows. As a result, a thriving informational ecosystem has formed which can be used by others as a low barrier entry to access relevant capabilities and external information sources.
Companies who solely look at their own information resources for building information-driven business models neglect the potential the informational ecosystem has to offer to expand this with additional, external sources. Different types of external sources can come into play:
- User generated content; installing interactive distribution channels which stimulate customers to provide input, reviews and advice on topics, simultaneously enriching existing information sets. Royal Dutch Airline KLM for instance, has introduced a travelers community which fellow travelers can use to get inspiration and to share experiences. This provides KLM with direct sales leads on who is going to travel when and gives them the opportunity to offer relevant products
- Publicly available information; creating feeds from external open data sources For instance, governments are starting up open data initiatives, giving third parties access to their information sets. As part of this philosophy, the Dutch government has opened up a database of current permits (construction, food & beverage, etc). This provides banks with direct insight into who might need financial support
- Analyses made by others; companies are likely to perform analyses which may be of use to other companies and which they are willing to share (either on a paid basis or free of charge). A well known example is Google Flu Trends, which predicts how flu epidemics will cross the globe based on the frequency of search key words entered in different countries. This enables health providers to forecast medicine usage.