Unleashing the Promise of the Data Revolution

Massive data flows and new analytical tools are transforming economies and societies. But new rules are needed to capture the benefits while preventing abuses.


Our lives are rapidly changing due to massive quantities of new data, powerful computers, and innovative analysis. This data revolution already has transformed the most basic human functions, including dating and driving. It also is changing the economy, creating new business models that take advantage of this valuable information and technology. It is striking that the profits of seven of the 10 most valuable companies in the world are now driven primarily by this data revolution.

Unfortunately, the benefits of data usage come with increasing fears about privacy, economic power, and control. There are concerns that the increasing breadth and depth of data collection has led to the loss of privacy and to constant surveillance, as the data collected spans online and offline activities, and can be used to decipher patterns of behavior, personality, location, and desires. As a result, society is increasing constraints on data and analytical techniques through laws such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and California’s Consumer Privacy Act.

We started the Oliver Wyman Forum’s initiative on the Future of Data because the collective choices we make and the structures and processes that we build now can lead to very different futures. Our mission is to help enable, accelerate, and scale responsible data-driven innovation, following rules of the road that drive society-wide value.

We will work with partners in the business community, government, academia, and broader society to encourage the optimal choices and to help build the appropriate infrastructure. One of the first steps is to identify some initial projects that are both practical and will make a real difference. We have our ideas but are eager to hear yours.

Please contact us with your thoughts and join us on this journey. Achieving this bold goal will not be easy, but we are confident that working together we will create the necessary principles, structures, and processes and will succeed.