Data-as-a-Product Design Toolkit and Accelerators

Data-as-a-Product Design Toolkit and Accelerators
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Across 2023, members of The Collaborative and Otago University are running an applied research project to design and test an execution model that works with start-up and scale-up ecosystems across New Zealand to accelerate Data-Driven Innovation by combining Product Design with Platform Thinking.

Integral to this research is the development of a of a Data-as-a-Product Design Toolkit - The DaaP Design Toolkit - and sustainable model to support training and execution via a community-of-practice.


In 2019 a consortium of industry professionals, educators, and government representatives recognized the ongoing difficulties faced by New Zealand organizations in adapting to the effects 4th Industrial technologies were having on their operations, markets, and value chains, along with the local economies and the country as a whole.

In response to this challenge, the group formed the i4 Group in late 2019 with the initial objective of bringing together data scientists, business leaders, and other stakeholders to explore ways of using data to solve complex problems and support evidence-based decision making in New Zealand.

This initial focus on data led the i4 Group to work with the Ministry for Business Innovation and employment (MBIE) on the Data-Driven Innovation pillar of the county’s Digital Industry Transformation Plan (Digital ITP). See Page 31.

This joined-up effort culminated in the creation of a 12-month program of work from July 2021 to June 2022, focused on promoting widespread understanding of the value of data and supporting the use of data-driven technologies to help fuel innovation, productivity, sustainability, and inclusion across New Zealand. Successfully delivered within budget and on-time despite the challenges of a global pandemic, key learnings from this program included:

  • Data Ecosystems: Data-Driven Innovation is not a result of a single firm acting alone, rather the data and opportunities for Data-Driven Innovation are found across supply-chains and industrial innovation ecosystems.
  • Awareness and Adoption: Technologies are not the problem; adoption is the challenge and can only be accelerated as an organization increases its overall data awareness and maturity across all areas of its operation.
  • Trust: Currently there is low (or no) trust between organizations and industries, leading to lack of data sharing across supply chains. For New Zealand to ‘Do Good with Data’ there needs to be trust in the data, trust in data platforms, trust in those that govern and steward data and trust in those who share it.
  • Data Governance: This need for trust highlighted the overall importance of Data Governance, Stewardship and Collaboration as key supporting capabilities needed by both the private and public sectors to jointly undertake Data-Driven Innovation activities. See Page

In the final program report back to MBIE in late 2022, the recommendations included:

  • Establish the i4 Institute: To act as the Data Governance & Data Stewardship 'Knowledge Hub' as part of the New Zealand Data Ecosystem
  • Co-Design an Accelerator Network: With industry professionals, educators, and government representatives, design an accelerator model that works with start-up and scale-up ecosystems across New Zealand to help develop new data-driven products, services, processes, and business models.

Since these recommendations, Otago University, Massey University, The Collaborative (a not-for-profit) from the i4 group have:

  • Established the i4 Institute to support organizations in “Doing Good with Data” via Data Governance, Stewardship and Collaboration.
  • Explored the various value propositions and possible execution models for an Accelerator Network with stakeholders from across the New Zealand Data Ecosystem.
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A Data Product Accelerator Network

Via a consultation process with stakeholders of the New Zealand Data Ecosystem, and interactions with relevant international organizations such as GovLab and Bounbraryless, a realization has formed that the core focus of any Accelerator network should be to use a product-platform design approach that connects data producers with data consumers, inside and/or across organizations, ergo be Data-as-a-Product Accelerators.

The following overview provides insight into the Data-as-a-Product Accelerator network, its relationship with the i4 Institute, the wider data ecosystem, and international communities who are focused on Data Governance, Stewardship and Collaboration, along with the proposed co-design and pilot implementation up to December 2023.

What do we mean by Data-as-a-Product?

The concept of "data as a product" refers to the idea of treating data as a valuable asset that can be packaged, delivered, and consumed by users, much like a traditional product.

By employing product design principles organizations can enhance the usability, value, and overall experience of their data offerings, whether they be open access, not-for-profit or commercial in nature.

A Product Design Approach to Data

Using a product design approach is key to enabling data-driven innovation for organizations, value chains and economies, as a key aspect of design thinking is understanding user ‘pains and gains’ and identifying the specific problems they are trying to solve with data, ergo specific value propositions are created for each Data-as-a-Product (DaaP).

This co-design aspect of product development also ensures that the DaaPs aligns with organizational objectives and can provide trusted and meaningful insights. DaaP designers also consider scalability and adaptability in their offerings, and how these can be consumed by connecting connects data producers with data consumers, both inside their organizations and across wider organizational value chains and ecosystems.

This principle of connecting producers with consumers across ecosystems also creates a need to design DaaPs that can evolve and accommodate changing needs, requiring flexible data architectures and incorporating robust ‘federated’ data governance, stewardship and collaborative innovation practices into each DaaP, to ensure data quality, trust, security, and privacy.

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Data-as-a-Product Design Thinking

Employing Platform Design Thinking focused on connecting data producers with data consumers via multi-sided, transformative platforms empowers data ecosystems in creating shared value.

In this iterative process of exploration to design, to validation and growth from the Platform Thinking world, continuous development of DaaP roadmaps are brought together as a Product Portfolio (or Platform) of valuable assets that can be packaged, re-packed, delivered, and consumed by users to accelerate Data-Driven Innovation.

Furthermore, both product design and platform thinking emphasizes the importance of visual storytelling. Applying this principle to DaaP involves building presenting layers as product features using effective data visualization techniques to help transform complex datasets into comprehensible narratives, enabling users to derive actionable insights more easily and support data-driven decision making.

Data Collaboratives

Alongside these concepts of product design and data thinking, attention is also being paid to opportunities for collaborations that bring together participants from different sectors to share both public and private data for the benefit of society and the equitable spread of economic opportunity.

These so-called ‘data collaboratives’ could be supported by DaaP Platforms to help establish the collaborative and accountable approaches needed to support public-private data sharing, while seeking to make the practice of Data Collaboratives more predictable, scalable, sustainable and de-risked.

However, for these collaborations to be successful, practitioners are increasingly seeing the need for new federated governance structures and processes when designing and implementing a multi-stakeholder data collaborative platform at an institutional level.

Therefore, there is a need in the international Data Stewardship practitioner community for a DaaP Design Toolkit that supports their work with the senior leadership of both public and private organizations, as they explore, operationalize, and benchmark the different components of federated governance needed to gain value from the Data Collaboratives they participate in.

The DaaP Accelerators

Pulling these various strands together, brings into focus the core building blocks for DaaP Accelerator design.

(From Data Mesh Concepts)

Platform Design Thinking
(From Platform Design Toolkit)

Ecosystem Collaboration
(From Collaborative Innovation Networks)

Organisational Domain


Diversity and cross-pollination of ideas

Product Co-Design with users and producers

Connecting Data Producers with Data Consumers

Accelerated problem-solving and innovation


Discovery and Validation

Learning and knowledge sharing

Data Governance

Shared (Visual) Language using canvassing

Increased access to resources and opportunities

blue ballpoint pen on white notebook
Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui / Unsplash

DaaP Accelerator Design Scope for 2023

Across 2023, members of The Collaborative and Otago University are running an applied research project to design and test an execution model that works with start-up and scale-up ecosystems across New Zealand to accelerate Data-Driven Innovation by combining Product Design with Platform Thinking.

Integral to this research is the development of a of a DaaP Design Toolkit and sustainable model to support training and execution via a community-of-practice. The current feature set for DaaP Accelerator Research project for 2023, comprises:

  • DaaP Design Toolkit: Co-create with Boundaryless, the DaaP Platform Design Toolkit as a variation of their Platform Design Toolkit which is licensed via Creative Commons Share alike Attributed 4.0,
  • Open Access DaaP Accelerators: Establish a pilot DaaP Accelerators at Otago University in New Zealand to test the DaaP Design Toolkit.
  • DaaP Design Facilitator Community: Explore with Boundaryless, and the pilot DaaP Accelerator, a sustainable model that supports training and execution of the DaaP Design Toolkit via a community-of-practice.
  • Data Ethic and Innovation: Explore with Statistics NZ possible collaborative models between the DaaP Accelerator Network and the Stats NZ Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to leverage joint learning and minimize duplication of effort.

Updates on Progress

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