Data is the process

A little backstory and some news.

When I began Visceral Business in 2008, the aim was to distill and capture the shift from analogue to digital business, from industrial to the networked economy, and to help people grapple with digital transformation as a manageable and integrated endeavour along the way.

We started off by identifying five main attributes – being networked, seamless, open, compelling and going beyond profit – that characterise, together, the nature of ‘visceral business’.


These attributes sum up dynamic, agile, responsive organisations, organisations capable of creating action potential and that move people to want to respond and connect to them. They were relevant in 2008 and as the pace of business change picks up, they’re arguably even more relevant today.

The sightlines we have now from online behaviours, about how consumer and stakeholders interact with organisations, have formed the bedrock of a series of in-depth research studies Visceral Business has produced over the years – The Social Charity study, The Social Food study and The Connected Housing studiesten in all – that have established the idea of quantified organisation and provided a macro view of key industries not possibly previously. These have tracked and studied the progress of digital transformation of over 750 organisations over five years in key sectors. Here’s one example.

Two things have become clear during this process and having worked with an amazing range of clients over this period. First, it’s clear a great deal of the degree to which any organisation can thrive in the digital economy comes down to the people in them and how they interact with technology.

Digital leadership remains the number one driver of lean and effective networked management. This has led us, increasingly, to focus on developing digital leadership skills, facilitating strategic innovation with people inside and around organisations, putting digital skills into organisations and working collaboratively with teams, face-to-face and online as part of how we establish and measure truly effective change programmes.

Secondly, as part of developing this networked collaboration, open data is a vital ingredient.

‘Data is the process’ is one way to sum this up. What data tells us shapes what can be developed in effective, collaborative and networked organisations.

Be it a business, a city or a whole ecosystem, open data breeds knowledge, efficiencies and opportunities for innovation.

And with that in mind, here’s the news part. As part of supporting and accelerating digital learning and business innovation, Visceral Business has championed ‘working out loud’ and the development of peer-to-peer, networked organisation. Now, we are delighted to be leading the creation of an Open Data Institute Community Node for Cornwall.

The ODI Cornwall ‘Open Data Initiative’ begins its work this week, with a survey open to everyone who lives and works in the region so we can understand the views and degree of knowledge people in Cornwall have about open data.

Cornwall’s a region that can especially gain through open data, networked community and by developing digital business models for industries and activities. From coastal erosion to housing management, from the engagement of local views to the internet of things, we hope to promote an appreciation of how building digital intelligence collectively using open data can make a positive impact both socially and commercially across Cornwall.

We’re excited to be developing a cohort of supporters for open data, discussing how and where data – in all its forms – can support dynamic business development in Cornwall, alongside our continuing work in digital business strategy and digital leadership with clients all across the UK and internationally.

Networked, seamless, open, compelling and beyond profit. Data is the process that fuels the strategic design of all networked and digital organisation, it seems to me. Open data is the means to make that fuel sustainable and accessible to all.