The aim of this study is to identify key challenges to the realisation of benefits from big data in the UK economy, along with pathways to overcoming these challenges.

In this study we seek to identify key obstacles to the realisation of benefits from big data in the UK economy, and paths to solution. Although big data is now widely acknowledged in government, business, academia, the media, and public consciousness as carrying great potential, many areas of business and economic activity remain relatively unaffected by the proliferation of data in society. An important first step in unlocking the latent benefits within these domains is to identify the key barriers to adoption of data-driven practices and business models in a precise and rigorous fashion.

This project will examine existing best practices, consider how these might be generalised (as well as, more broadly, what lessons they offer), identify opportunities for the use of big data to create value and the reason(s) why these opportunities have not been seized, and detail academic and policy measures that can drive adoption of big data practices. Key research questions for this project thus include:

  • Questions about the sources of data: How is data derived from people and how is it valued by people? To what extent are the sources of data limited or biased by platform dependence? How can big data from ‘open’ or third party platforms such as Wikipedia or Twitter be leveraged?
  • Questions about the use, misuse, and non-use of data: How have large-scale datasets been successfully used and what can we learn from this? What kind of data uses (or data-use contexts) have failed to deliver the desired results and why? What are the broader social implications of the ever more pervasive use of data? Which sectors of the business/economic landscape look like they have large, unrealised benefits because of a stock of as yet un(der)-utilised data?
  • Questions about the surrounding landscape: How can the legal and policy environment be changed to support data-driven economic activity? How are attitudes amongst business leaders and the public shaping the (non-)incorporation of big data into business practice? How does the possession and use of big data affect competition and innovation within a sector?
  • Questions about questions: Given the above, what are the most important questions or challenges for researchers to address in the immediate future if the economic potential of big data is to be unlocked?


This projecrt is funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK), New Economic Models in the Digital Economy (NEMODE), and Network +

Research Councils UK (RCUK)New Economic Models in the Digital Economy (NEMODE)