Data Republic, a company that attracted millions in funding from the likes of Qantas, NAB, Westpac and Singtel for its data marketplace platform has reset its strategy and will now offer enterprise software.
The company sees more potential in facilitating accessibility and innovation than in data commercialisation, and wants to change now to move with the evolving data economy.
According to Data Republic cofounder and CEO Danny Gilligan, while Data Republic has always offered customers full control and governance over sharing data, the pivot is being driven by an unshakable “perception” around marketplaces and monetising data.
Gilligan says it became clear Data Republic’s core customers – typically large B2C enterprises and governments – extract value from data in how they use it to innovate and improve experiences rather than as a commodity. They’re also increasingly concerned about their social license, he says.
“[Data Republic customers are] major banks, airlines, telcos, insurers, government – they’re not interested in monetising data,” Gilligan tells Which-50. “They’re interested in innovating with data.
“They’re interested in creating commercial applications from data but still in a way that honours the trust and relationship that they have with their own customers.”
The other major factor behind the change, Gilligan says, is the understanding that data flows through networks, rather than marketplaces, with value added exponentially as the network expands.
“A marketplace seems to be like the one place where everybody comes, whereas what we see developing in the data economy is more of a kind of neural network where organisations make connections within their own partnering strategies … it’s a more distributed system than a classic marketplace.”
Data Republic was founded in 2014 in Sydney offering a data exchange platform built on top of a trusted legal framework. After investment from Westpac, NAB and Qantas it quickly expanded, opening offices in Singapore and the US.
The company had grand plans for its data exchanges, offering it as a way for big businesses and government to effectively buy and sell their data. Data Republic provided the platform for free and clipped the ticket as data passed through.
The model allowed customers to almost immediately put a dollar value on the troves of data they had amassed over the years. Data Republic was among the first companies in the world to offer such an enterprise level data marketplace – beating both AWS and Snowflake to market by several years – and by 2016 was touting potential Atlasssian level success, even promising to outdo the local digital darling.
This year, however, the company has changed tack, getting ahead of what Gilligan sees as fundamental changes in the data economy.
He says the company is keeping the tools that made Data Republic appealing but is changing the business model. Data Republic will now be offered as a licensed platform and aimed squarely at large enterprises.
“We took all the tools and capability that we built to enable the marketplace and we just bundled it into an enterprise software suite,” Gilligan says. “Now we can licence our platform to enterprises and they can effectively become the centre of their own ecosystem.”
According to Gilligan, the new offering is the first ever “truly networked enterprise software”.
“The utility of our software to an enterprise increases as each new customer adopts the same software. Because now there are more, if you like, neurons in the neural network that are connected if you so choose.”
According to the cofounder, the core job remains the same for Data Republic: providing the governance tools that allow enterprises and governments to innovate with data in a scalable, repeatable way, while enhancing privacy, security and risk management.
And to that end Data Republic customers will still be able to monetise data if they wish. It still licenses the capability – what customers do with it is up to them – but Data Republic will no longer be the market facilitator.
Data accessibility in action
Gilligan says he expects the other leading data marketplaces, including tech giants AWS and Snowflake which launched marketplace offerings in 2019, to eventually make similar changes when they try to court more enterprise customers.
“They’ll eventually run into the same challenge, which is once they’ve finished consuming the general open data set, and they go and pitch to a major bank to list their data on a major data marketplace, they’ll discover that they’re not that interested in doing that.”
According to Gilligan, enterprise customers see more value in creating environments or ecosystems for developers to innovate with things like AI and machine learning, rather than commercialising the data.
In one case, Gilligan explained, a health insurer has used the new Data Sandbox software to create a developer portal that allows external developers to test their algorithms in a governed workspace run on its data.
“[There is] zero commercialisation of their data. [Instead] it’s about finding insights about data to help us drive better experiences and outcomes for our health insurance customers,” Gilligan said.
“One company out of Israel shipped in their capability and was able to reduce hospital readmission rates by 30 per cent. Massive improvement for the health outcomes of their customers, massive cost saving for the bottom line for the health insurer.”
“It’s a far bigger pie than just monetizing data.”