Posted on: Thursday 1st of August 2013
Following the launch of the midata Innovation Lab (mIL) we spoke with Dan Bates, mIL Director, about the next phase for the lab, the innovation we can look forward to, and how businesses and individuals can get involved.
What’s next post launch of the mIL?
The launch is of course just the start. The objective now is to help materially move the personal data debate forward in the UK, via practical activity with the different stakeholders. We have set up a number of different learning streams of activity to cover the different angles – including development and consumer feedback on innovative example applications, what consumer protections need to be put in place, what social good could be achieved, how do entrepreneurial developers get attracted to this market, and how do the various parts of the data ecosystem interact.
What are the key milestones?
We are running the next phase of the lab in the same way as we built it, using agile techniques that bring people together frequently and intensely to achieve rapid results. We have what we call a project heartbeat that drives the streams, with milestones at the end of each month. As an example, we have just launched a Developer Club and are excited about how this has the potential to be a vibrant community for services creation over the coming months. A key milestone for us will be an event in the autumn where we bring together the founding partners, data donors and developers to showcase what can be achieved and what we have learnt about the personal data opportunity for UK consumers and business.
How should businesses get involved – and what’s the opportunity for them?
Designed by business for business, the lab is an enabler and as such we have made it easy to get involved. Follow the links on our website or contact midataBIS on twitter. Businesses will have the opportunity to access data to innovate and explore with, to collaborate with other organisations and even form partnerships in taking forward ideas. The lab is also a uniquely expert place where advanced thinkers from all stakeholder groups can bring it all together across innovation, regulation, trust, consumer focus, business and investor opportunity.
Where would you like to be by the autumn?
Essentially, we’d like people to want more. We want some of our best businesses and brands to better understand how to embrace the opportunity that personal data enables. Part of this will be understanding how people get excited by new data services whilst at the same time trusting that their data is protected, clearly under their control, and releasing value for them as consumers. Martin Lewis has described midata as being a potential consumer blockbuster, and I see the mIL as a key enabler to learn how we bring this potential to reality.
What do you need to achieve to get there?
First, we need to make sure we have a good mix of data donors. We have our first group of volunteers and are now looking for more people to sign-up. If you want to be one of the few who’ll be able to look back and say “I was one the personal data pioneers” then go the lab’s website to see how you can get involved. With the data donors in place, the pioneering attitude of our founding partners, and other organisations that wish to join the lab, will be the single biggest enabler to get us to where we plan to be. These organisations will be trail-blazers who have the humility to acknowledge no-one as yet has all the answers, and thus share and learn, whilst at the same time having the vision and boldness to be the first-movers that accelerate the personal data market.
How will you measure success?
I think there are 3 key things that stand out for me. The first is a practical one – I want some really interesting apps and services to come out of the mIL. These may or may not be market ready – I’m not sure that matters – but what does matter it is that they will show us the potential of what we can achieve. The second is using the unique collaboration of experts involved in the mIL to help deliver an evidence base that allows us to analyse the opportunities for this emerging market, including how consumers and businesses attitudes shift as they become more involved in the experiment. The third is arguably the most important and is what I’ve touched on in the last question – we want the mIL to be transformative. We want to kick start a collective inflection point in business where the idea of passing the control of data back to customers becomes intuitive.
Are there any other thoughts you would like to share?
Just a reminder that this isn’t a closed shop – we have a great mix of some of the UK’s best organisations involved – but we want to expand that to other sectors not yet engaged. I am proud that we have set the bar high by bringing the mIL to life in just seven weeks from project kick-off and we are now determined that it will continue to grow as a unique and dynamic community of developers, consumers and consumer groups, businesses, regulators, academia and government who are all excited about driving the UK to the forefront of this growth market. The lab will tell us an awful lot about how we are going to achieve this.