Reflections on the Data Spaces Symposium
Last week the first Data Spaces Symposium of the Data Spaces Support Centre (DSSC) took place. The DSSC is a multidisciplinary consortium of twelve leading associations and knowledge centres in the domain of data spaces. It attracted almost 1000 attendees. INNOPAY’s Denise Hoppenbrouwer was among them, and she has written a blog to share the key insights from the symposium.
Last week, I attended the first and biggest data spaces event held in The Hague, which brought together over 700 visitors and 150 data space experts from around the world. As a representative of DSGO, the Data Space for the AEC sector in the Netherlands, where INNOPAY is responsible for creating the DSGO scheme, I was particularly interested in learning about the latest developments in the field.
The symposium took place over three days and was divided into three parts: the Data Spaces Visions Day, the Data Spaces Support Centre Conference, and the Data Spaces Deep-dive Day. I attended the Data Spaces Visions Day, which started at 9:00 in the morning with the opening of the information market. As someone who has participated in and co-created multiple data spaces, such as iSHARE and IDSA, and worked on multiple EU-wide initiatives such as the OpenDei Data Spaces paper and DataSovereigntyNow, it felt like a bit of a reunion to see many familiar faces in person after so long.
The plenary program was opened by Peter Verkoulen, and speakers from Fraunhofer, TNO, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and many more presented throughout the day. The presentations emphasized the importance and relevance of data spaces, as well as the extensive data package published by the EU in recent years, including the Data Act and the Data Governance Act. There was a shared perspective that we cannot realize data spaces alone, and that we need to work together to achieve our goals.
However, as the day progressed, I realised that while many presentations emphasized the importance of the true business value of data spaces for their users, there was a lack of focus on the demand side of data spaces. In fact, many presenters and attendees were data space experts involved in research or creating data spaces, rather than actual users of these spaces. As someone who has seen this happen with multiple spaces before, I believe it's important to focus on parties that enable scale effects for data spaces, but we also need to have our first participants and use cases first.
Data spaces are a two-sided market, and it's crucial to attract users on both sides of the market and create network effects. While Data Space Authorities are setting the right conditions, they need to be aware of the importance of solving the typical chicken-and-egg dilemma in two-sided markets. Before data spaces can achieve large-scale reach, they need to start with the steps from "0 to 1". I believe this is a critical aspect that many data spaces overlook, and we need to focus more on stimulating the adoption of data spaces.
In summary, the Data Spaces Symposium was a great event, and it was nice to catch up with old colleagues and friends. However, I believe that in future events, we need to see more actual users on stage talking about the actual value of data spaces from their own experiences. It's time to shift our focus from designing and creating data spaces to stimulating their adoption and use.