More than a definition – here’s what you need to know about data collaboration and how it works in a secure software environment.

Data is an enormously important global asset!

The story of data is an interesting one, particularly looking at the past 30 years.

We have moved from transactional data, to big data, to data sharing and we are now at the stage where true data collaboration is possible – indeed, data collaboration’s moment has arrived.

And, as with so many disruptions over the same period, technology and innovation has been the driver of the increase in data volumes, and the development of new ways to use data.

Initially, data was created by the transaction engines that started to, and continue to, run the bulk of the world’s economy – such as ERP, CRM, hospital systems and banking systems.

Data too, evolved with the relational database, which originated at IBM with Edgar Codd in the early 1970s. Oracle also entered the game in the late 1970s, and today we have a number of large and powerful distributed capabilities from Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and IBM with other open source and special purpose versions.

These databases are used for the purpose of storing and updating data from transactions – each structured in a way which reflects the purpose of their transaction software. For example, a CRM system and core banking system’s data structure vary as wildly as their uses.

In the early days of big data, expectations outstripped reality. Back then, data was heralded as valuable on its own.

Big data is now an overused term, but it still captures the scale of ever-increasing sources of data from machines, cars, smart devices, GPS systems and unstructured data. More and more data, but for what purpose?

Organisations began exploring ways of connecting data repositories, collaborating within their ecosystem and digging for the insights that improve decision-making.

In many cases, however, it was difficult to realise tangible benefits after embarking on the complex and expensive task of trying to connect diversely structured data sets. Not only was the process inherently insecure, but data had to be de-personalised, stripping it of most of its value.

The process was arduous, security risks were high and most importantly, true insights were scarce.

Until recently, we gave this journey of collecting, then studying, data sets the name ‘data sharing’.

It’s further complicated by various industry and government regulations dictating how information is accessed, shared, stored and analysed.

Then we’ve got the privacy issue. Australian citizens are justifiably worried about how their private data is collected, stored and shared among organisations.

The government’s Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2017 revealed 79% of Australian consumers are opposed to organisations sharing their private data with each other.

At the same time, 58% of Australians in the survey chose to avoid doing business with an organisation they perceived didn’t adequately protect customer data.

Expect this level of consumer scrutiny to increase. The Notifiable Data Breaches scheme commenced on February 22. The mandatory reporting provisions will expose organisations which fail to adequately protect customer data.

It’s no wonder organisations struggle to implement a viable data sharing model.

Thankfully, there’s a solution: data collaboration.

What is data collaboration?

Data collaboration requires a secure method of encrypting and connecting data held by different organisations and data repositories within a trusted software environment without handing it over to someone else.

Data collaboration projects typically involve two or more partners making data sets available in the software environment, giving all participants the opportunity to gain valuable business insights.

Critically, data collaboration is different from the activity of data sharing because each partner retains complete control of their data – all the time.

Data is not shared, but connected to the IXUP software environment, where a smart matching process exposes insights and identifies commonalities in the encrypted data sets. It layers these insights, deriving new insights from the enriched data.

The source data remains securely encrypted by the software environment, with the encryption key held exclusively by the data owner – not with IXUP, any of the other partners, or the software environment where the data is stored.

Think of a spreadsheet which is password-protected to secure its contents – that’s a form of encryption. It is possible to hack that password, because the password (or encryption key) has to be stored with the spreadsheet, otherwise you can’t decrypt it.

If that password does get hacked, the real data is revealed to the hacker – and let’s face it, human error is the cause of most cyber breaches and don’t we tend to use consistently strong passwords. This is why it’s so important that IXUP doesn’t store your encryption keys.

However, with IXUP nothing can occur without the express permission of every stakeholder in the collaboration. Each organisation controls what data is made available, and to whom.

Data collaboration’s benefits

Collaboration enriches the value of data, producing otherwise unattainable insights. The insights that are achieved in the software environment can then be used by the organisations involved, empowering each to make more informed decisions and exploit competitive opportunities.

Data collaboration opens the way for innovation and product development. Insights can allow organisations to better understand market opportunities and improve customer service in ways they would never be able to in isolation. With IXUP you can put multiple data sets together and uncover hidden value.

Use-case scenarios

Data collaboration projects can scale to suit a variety of use cases across industries, technologies and geographies.

For example, a property insurer could collaborate with another firm which contains a rich repository of risk assessment and land valuation data.

The collaboration could identify specific properties that are underinsured in local areas prone to higher than average flood risk.

The insurer could deliver these home owners highly personalised marketing and sales messages, inviting them to adjust their policies to ensure the properties are fully covered.

In another example, researchers and medical providers could use a data collaboration environment to discover insights into patterns of patient care across hospitals without compromising patient privacy.

They could, for example, look to understand how certain hospital processes or operation procedures deliver better patient outcomes.

IXUP’s advantage

Security hurdles are overcome through the highest levels of industry-standard encryption techniques. Not only is each data record individually encrypted before its added to the data collaboration environment, the entire combined data set is subsequently encrypted inside the software environment.

This layered approach makes decryption by a third party who doesn’t own the data virtually impossible. The encryption key is not stored with the encrypted data – it’s like a lock without a keyhole.

IXUP is a data collaboration pioneer. The company has developed a secure, trusted and patented data collaboration environment that gives organisations the ability to gain insights while retaining control of their data.

Contact us to take your first step towards unlocking the true value of your data with IXUP’s secure data collaboration environment.