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Data sovereignty and opportunities in the data economy

Data: the world’s inexhaustible resource

Wenche Karlstad / April 11, 2022
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The amount of available data we surround ourselves with is massive, and it’s growing all the time. The untapped potential of this is staggering. According to the European Commission, 80 percent of all industrial data is never used.

Solutions are now being worked on that can make it easier to exploit a larger share of the data. Unlike many other resources, data is an inexhaustible resource that can be reused indefinitely. For many industries, there is a large hidden value in this.

The reason that so much data has never been used is complex. One aspect is that the technology extracting the value from the data material has not been properly utilized. Another is that laws and regulations for storing and transferring data are changing.

These are things that most industries have to deal with. Whether you’re running a small online store with customer data or are working in a multinational group, access to cloud-stored data is increasingly important.

A solution to the Privacy Shield tangle

The Schrems II ruling from July 2020 meant that the "Privacy Shield" was no longer valid as a transfer basis for personal data between European and US authorities. This reinforced the need for digital sovereignty over data and cloud services.

The most affected sectors and industries were those that are the most regulated; specifically the public sector, health and finance. But in practice, the ruling affected all businesses that are subject to GDPR and other regulations.

Digital sovereignty is about the right to own data, where it is stored, and who has control over it. Although this presents challenges, it also offers many opportunities.

A statement in March 2022 from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and US President Joe Biden suggests that a solution to the legal tangle may be found.

The pair announced that the US and the EU had in principle reached an agreement on a new transatlantic data-flow regulation. The updated Privacy Shield agreement is in progress and should become a reality soon.

There are also other efforts being made to strengthen Europe's position on the data front. For example, the European Commission's Data Act is an initiative launched on 28 February that is now out for consultation.

EUR 270 billion in increased GDP by 2028

The aim of the Data Act is to make more data available, and to regulate its access and use in both the public and private sectors. The Act also aims to stimulate increased competition through data-driven innovation.

The new rules are expected to generate EUR 270 billion in increased GDP by 2028.

The proposed new regulations also include criteria around how cloud services deliver their computing and storage capacities based on how the data economy is built.

For example, the increased use of devices with IoT (Internet of Things) services will generate an increased amount of data over a relatively short period of time. In smart homes or smart offices, multiple devices can be connected on the same infrastructure to regulate light and heat based on predictive data using AI.

Another aspect of the new regulation is aimed at improving the conditions for businesses and consumers to consume cloud services.

The Data Act facilitates fairer and more open competition between SMEs and larger players. It will be easier to switch between different service providers, thanks to a reduction in the restrictions on exchanging and utilizing data between sectors. At the same time, we should be able to have confidence that the data is handled in a prudent manner.

Gaia-X membership

Tietoevry recently joined Gaia-X, a European partnership aimed at creating a unified ecosystem of cloud and data services under European law. Since its establishment in mid-2021, the alliance has grown to well over 300 members and more are joining all the time.

The idea is that a common digital ecosystem self-regulated by its members – with open-source principles – will stimulate sharing and growth in a broad environment.

The innovation potential is huge, but complex regulations have hindered small players in particular. By simplifying and building good standards for exchanging data, it can be easier to utilize a larger share of the amount of data available.

Increased innovation, smarter collaboration

Closer cooperation between European cloud providers, together with the Data Act, could also strengthen Europe's importance in a field where US and Chinese players have become increasingly dominant.

For those who own and process large amounts of data, agility and transparency are important. By promoting new, common solutions, we can make it easier to use the data in new ways. In particular, smaller players will benefit from shortening the path from innovation to new services.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises often need external expertise when harvesting the benefits of the data ocean. Gaia-X, the Data act and a new Privacy Shield agreement can contribute to smarter collaboration, greater flexibility, and faster restructuring.

The easier it is to get different systems to talk, the lower the threshold for developing and adopting new solutions. The opportunity space is huge, whether it's in trade, industry, agriculture, or research – just to name a few. The technology is constantly evolving, and with it, the value of the data will only increase.

Whether a public, hybrid, or private cloud system, data must be safeguarded in the right place and in the right cloud service. The following principles can help to make the correct choices for safeguarding the increased amount of data:

  • The right level of security around your personal and critical industrial data
  • Scalable services to adjust the need for additional capacity over short periods. For example, increasing the availability of data during deadlines to file online tax returns, or during sales campaign periods like “Black Friday”
  • Stable infrastructure with high uptime and availability of basic services, ensuring safe operation of large amounts of data
  • Speed that provides rapid development from idea to production, in order to stimulate increased innovation of new products and services with agile operational models
  • Savings from the effect of scalable services and automation, as well as from a reduction of the total cost of ownership with own local datacenter
  • Sustainable solutions in data centers and offices with green energy; circular use of hardware as some of the important values

Tietoevry is experiencing an increasing demand for sovereign clouds that can ensure the needs of Nordic organizations and meet legal requirements. We are here to guide you through the maze, so do not hesitate to contact us.

Want to learn more? Click here for a deep dive into our sovereign cloud solution.

Wenche Karlstad
Head of Digital Sovereignty Initiatives

Wenche is passionate about creating value for our customers and enabling growth with attractive service offerings. She has near twenty years of experience in the IT business with different roles within management and advisory, bringing new services to the market.

In her current role as Head of Strategic Differentiation Programs at Tietoevry Connect, she is leading a global team of experts and managers.

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Wenche Karlstad

Head of Digital Sovereignty Initiatives

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