In Machines We Trust?

Data is widely regarded as an asset for furthering social cohesion and equity, ensuring national security, and delivering public services more efficiently.

However, it has different economic value for different countries, depending on their current levels of competitiveness in different sectors, positioning within regional and international markets, and the priorities and readiness of their innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems.

Two intersecting trends in the world of data will have far-reaching implications for data governance and provide new opportunities and challenges for developing countries.

The first trend is the explosive growth in machine data, which is data produced by internet of things devices. Machine data has already outstripped human data in size, variety, and frequency and is growing at a staggering pace: 50% compound growth in the size of data flows every year, and 125 billion networked devices by 2025, according to one estimate.

The second trend is the growing “datafication” of traditional sectors — those that were not “born digital” like social media — such as agriculture, transport, energy, natural resources, and health. Datafication is the use of data from IoT devices at each stage of an industry’s value chain. The growing use of new forms of data by traditional sectors has widened the scope of the data economy.

This spotlight paper provides delves into the trends and presents a potential framework and action plan to address the associated data governance opportunities and challenges.