Scenario planning is a business analysis tool which helps determine if a scenario is plausible. Indicators are identified to help determine the likelihood of specific events occurring. A scenario analysis requires a focal question that describes our scenario. For the purpose of this analysis and in the context of the research question, the focal question is: What are the benefits of OD?
The following is a list of uncertainties about future outcomes and potential value of OD, as reflected by the presumed benefits of OD identified by the GC. These are uncertainties of how OD might benefit Canadians:
- Supports innovation
- Leverage’s public sector information to develop consumer and commercial products
- Enables better use of existing investment in broadband and community information infrastructure
- Supports research
- Supports informed decisions for consumers
It is likely that OD will support innovation and research but it is difficult to measure. The mere process of releasing OD will in turn help leverage public sector information; private sectors and governments will benefit from the release of OD. The two most uncertain and important excerpts remain the support of innovation and research. This is aligned with the survey result where 96% of participants agreed that innovation was very important for Canada. In addition, there are still uncertainties to how OD might support research and innovation. The previous diagram represents the importance and uncertainty of each presumed benefit.
The previous diagram provides a graphical representation of four possible outcomes within this scenario framework. By taking the two most important but uncertain excerpts, the support of innovation and the research, we can build a plausible story narrative that will explain how the support of innovation and the research will provide benefit from the current state of affairs to a future described by each of the following quadrants.
Scenario A: Spur economic growth and value to research
In this scenario OD informs and supports research and private sectors with valuable data and in turn helps research and development to increase Canada’s competitive ability in the world market. New markets for open data are created through the development of solutions and novel ideas. Collaboration is heightened and governments are viewed as transparent. Innovation provides knowledge that informs strategic directions for governments and industries. Research and development is enhanced, rapid advancements and developments are created, and research outcomes become a catalyst of growth in Canada. OD enables the creation of new markets and services. A new demand for knowledge is created which creates a need for new enterprises. The sharing of data is in high demand and new companies are created to meet the demand for new products and services.
Scenario B: Spur economic growth but no value to research
In this scenario, OD enables the creation of new markets and services. A new demand for knowledge is created which drives new enterprises. The sharing of data is in high demand and companies are created to meet the demand for new products and services. Meanwhile, OD does not support research and newfound knowledge is not obtained. If research and development efforts do not enhance the advancement of new and innovative products and services, research will not become a catalyst of growth in Canada and the economy will eventually suffer. Even if the sharing of public data heightens the economy, it will not have a long-term effect on the economy if OD does not reinforce research. The creation of new markets will be temporary if the economy is not supported by enhanced research and development.
Scenario C: Value to research but no economic growth
In this scenario OD informs and provides the research community and private sector with valuable data but does not help increase Canada’s competitive ability in the world market. OD does not support innovation and economic growth and new products and services are not created. The development of solutions and novel ideas do not enable the creation of new markets and services. Research and development does not enhance advancements and innovation does not become a catalyst of growth in Canada.
Scenario D: No economic growth and no value to research
This scenario is highly unlikely given the value of shared information. In this scenario OD does not support research and private sectors with valuable data. It does not help economic growth, nor does it increase Canada’s competitive ability in the world market. New markets are not created through the development of solutions and novel ideas. Furthermore, collaboration would not improve and governments would not be viewed as transparent. Innovation does not become a catalyst of growth in Canada.
The plausible outcome of this analysis is determined by the probability of a specific scenario occurring. The likelihood that OD creates and supports innovation and research is very high. We have already identified the academic community as primary users of OD and the private sector is increasingly using OD to bolster innovation. These are the users that have the skills and tools to aggregate data and create added value from their in-depth analysis of the data, which will in turn provide heighten information, knowledge and wisdom to society. The release of OD is likely to create benefits for these groups and in turn provide them with additional resources to complete other relevant tasks.