Strong adoption of an Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) data analytics marketplace has validated the exchange's new line of business – but as companies hop on the data-monetisation boom, a new privacy survey is a reminder Australians remain cautious about the way companies reuse their data.

The new ASX DataSphere market incorporates 39 historical data sets including financial indicators, company news, securities and other data collected during the firm’s everyday operations.

Launched late last year, the subscription platform – which uses virtual container technology to create secure data science ‘workbenches’ for data analysis and modelling – was this month opened up to third-party entities in a move that turns the portal into a broker for distributing and commercialising data sources.

“The data that we provide to our market allows [customers] to create analytic products they wouldn’t be able to create by themselves,” ASX CIO Dan Chesterman explained during the recent TIBCO Now online conference.

“Almost all of our customers and potential customers see real value in being able to access that sort of whole of data problem.”

One man’s data, another man’s treasure

Data monetisation has been flagged as an important focal point for revenue-hit companies that are increasingly drowning in operational data.

Applying intelligent analytics to that data often produces new insights that can shape new products, identify problem areas for resolution – or, as ASX and myriad other companies are finding out, grow into new commercial opportunities.

By 2022, Gartner has predicted, 35 per cent of large organisations will either be selling or buying data through “formal online data marketplaces… that create economies of scale to reduce costs for third-party data.”

Increasing data maturity even just a little bit, Amazon Web Services and Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) concluded in a new survey and analysis of data opportunities, can add an average $1.5m in revenue – supporting the hiring of 16 full-time Australian staff – but with 60 per cent of companies at basic or beginner levels of maturity, there is still a lot to learn overall.

“Businesses need to do more to get the most out of the information they are capturing,” the authors advised, noting that 40 to 45 per cent of surveyed businesses don’t even see customer, financial, employee, or transaction information as organisational data.

More than a quarter of respondents get meaningful insights out of their data monthly or less often, the survey found, while a quarter said they are analysing data on an ad-hoc basis or not at all.

This relative immaturity means that few companies recognise latent opportunities in their enterprise data: although businesses in the DAE survey saw data as a driver for cost-saving measures like improving productivity, increasing sales and revenue and streamlining business processes, just 8 per cent of companies identified data as a potential revenue stream.

Taking stock of change

The evolution of DataSphere is just one of numerous concurrent digital projects that are dramatically reshaping the way ASX operates.

Its blockchain-based trading system, which will replace the 25-year-old Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) settlement and clearing system, has been in the works for four years and has undergone extensive industry consultation in the runup to a projected go-live in April 2022.

To better support the CHESS Replacement, DataSphere and other information-based systems, ASX recently completed a major migration of its backup data and core applications as it moved its disaster-recovery and backup data centre from a facility in Bondi Junction, to a new Tier III-class site in Pemulwuy, west of Parramatta.

Throughout these and other projects, Chesterman said, ensuring data protection “is one of the most important aspects, and in some cases a more important and difficult challenge than just the technology piece.”

“Understanding data governance and all that entails including commercial, legal, and ethical use of data, is central to the solution that we’re developing.”

Requirements for privacy and security are more than just academic: new research from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) found that privacy-aware Australians are sceptical about growing corporate data collection and reuse.

Fully 74 per cent of respondents said they are uncomfortable with companies using data for a purpose other than that for which it was supplied, while 70 per cent didn’t want businesses sharing their personal information with other Australian organisations.

Despite these constraints, less than half of the DAE survey respondents actively manage access to data across the business – a key capability that, the firm notes, is critical for companies that want to expand their use of business data.

Although ASX data primarily relates to business entities, Chesterman said the company remains cautious as it builds and expands DataSphere.

“We have a very strong data governance culture and group within the ASX,” he explained, “and we try to enshrine that into our commercial and legal frameworks – which allow our customers and data providers to feel comfortable that their data, when ingested into our platform, will be used only in the context in which it should be used.”

“We try and enshrine the purpose of that data and what it’s for, into the way that we’re actually storing it; this is central to the problem of managing data.”