Estimated reading time 4 min

Businesses look to data to boost competitiveness – new Sitra handbook shows how

Starting to share data with other companies can feel challenging at first. A new handbook produced by Sitra provides a practical approach to help companies from the first steps of data-driven collaboration through to piloting and commercialising business solutions.


Jenna Kiljunen

Specialist, Communications and Public Affairs


Data is an ever-growing raw material that enables companies to pursue new business models and competitive advantages. But in today’s changing and complex environment, companies should not be left alone with their data, as the value of the knowledge and expertise they manage can be multiplied in partnership with other organisations.    

Partnerships are facilitated by organising into an ecosystem Data ecosystem Several data networks can form a data ecosystem, “a network of networks”, in which the members collaborate with each other to share and use data, as well as to boost innovation and new businesses. Open term page Data ecosystem , or network, where all those involved are bound by common rules and agreements. 

Practical steps for collaborative data sharing  

Sitra wants to accelerate the emergence of new data businesses in Finnish ecosystems. Published in February 2024, Data-driven Competitiveness – A Handbook for Ecosystems encourages cross-organisational collaboration and seizing the business benefits of data sharing.

The handbook is aimed at stakeholders who operate in ecosystems or want to do so, such as companies or public organisations interested in developing data businesses in collaboration with other organisations.    

It explains what it takes to work in an ecosystem and describes the steps involved in forming an ecosystem partnership and the ways an ecosystem can design, pilot and implement the data-driven solutions it seeks. The handbook is accompanied by  a toolkit that provides a working framework for the different steps of ecosystem co-creation, following the lessons of the handbook. 

The handbook guides ecosystems through four areas for building a data-driven business: collaboration, culture, planning and implementation. A precondition for networked operations is to establish a culture of collaboration and working based on trust. The handbook supports ecosystems in strengthening these areas in particular. The sections on planning and implementation move from market analysis, creating a business plan and risk assessment to piloting a prototype solution.

The interest and technology for sharing data is already exists, so what’s the catch?

For several years, Sitra has been exploring the opportunities and challenges of ecosystems for data sharing. In a 2023 survey on the maturity of ecosystems, almost a third of respondents wondered whether there were tangible benefits from sharing data. The responses showed that many organisations are still reluctant to share or collaborate on using data.    

There is no single “one size fits all” solution to data sharing and collaboration between different organisations, but with a systematic approach and a focus on the basics, success is possible.  

Technologies are evolving rapidly and the practical conditions for using data for the most part already exist. However, there is still a lack of trust and a common culture among stakeholders. 

Technologies are evolving rapidly and the practical conditions for using data for the most part already exist. However, there is still a lack of trust and a common culture among stakeholders. 

What kind of solutions do ecosystems aim for?  

Networking and data sharing within an ecosystem gives companies a broader view of markets and consumer behaviour. It also boosts innovation, as the ecosystem enables companies to tap into each other’s resources and expertise.   

Collaborative networks aim to solve broader problems that are too big or complex for individual actors to tackle, or that simply require cooperation between different stakeholders.  

In practice, the solutions they seek may take the form of data-driven products or services, targeted either for individuals, businesses or for wider societal use.   

In healthcare, for example, data can be used to improve quality and efficiency by predicting health risks or creating more personalised care plans. In logistics, data can be used to optimise supply chains and reduce costs, while improving the speed and reliability of deliveries. Data can also contribute to sustainable energy production by optimising energy consumption.

What’s an ecosystem?

When companies want to collaborate on the basis of fair data sharing and use, it’s best to do so through an ecosystem, a network-like structure that connects different actors.   

Finland has several ecosystems in different sectors, consisting of networks of companies, universities, research institutes and third sector organisations.  

Ecosystem participants use common rules to share information and expertise and strengthen their own capacity by learning from others.   

Ecosystems also seek to innovate and usually aim to solve a broader problem that cannot be solved by the capabilities of individual actors alone. 


Read more

Data-driven Competitiveness A Handbook for Ecosystems (summary)

Better products, services and insight – data-sharing networks reap rewards of collaboration

Sitra survey: plenty of trust but funding and business expertise needed – impetus from data for joint innovation

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