Zetamind is a consulting company. We consult our customers – public administrations and private companies – on data value creation. I, Andre Golliez, am one of the founders of Zetamind. I’m a computer scientist, with a 40-year-long background in IT, in computer science and data. Some years ago I initiated the open data movement in Switzerland. I also work with the politics of data use.
I and the co-founders Giulia Fitzpatrick and Tom Kleiber founded Zetamind about two years ago. Zetamind is based on the idea that data is a strategic infrastructure and resource for any company, public administration and for the society at large. The motivation to found Zetamind was to consult on the better use of data for it to benefit everybody in the economy and society.
André Golliez, Giulia Fitzpatrick, Tom Kleiber
Now we are a start-up with five colleagues. We are focusing on companies and organizations especially in the German part of Switzerland.
Our customers find us through our excellent network. We have all been in the IT consultancy business for many years and have a strong network. We are also very active in the public sector and in data politics. This way we get a lot of visibility.
Data is important. This is the first point. During all my time working in IT, data was always an important topic. But I really saw a change about 10 years ago, at the time when I started the open data movement in Switzerland. That’s when I learned that data is a resource and that the reuse of data is important. Through the reuse of data, we learn from the successes and challenges.
“What we really see now during the pandemic is that it’s all about the data. The data shows us what we need to know: where the cases are, the incidents and the required health institutions. Data also shows us where the vaccinations are at etc. So, it’s always important to have access to the data as well as reusing it to get a better database which is turn make for better, informed decisions.”
What we really see now during the pandemic is that it’s all about the data. The data shows us what we need to know: where the cases are, the incidents and the required health institutions. Data also shows us where the vaccinations are at etc. So, it’s always important to have access to the data as well as reusing it to get a better database which is turn make for better, informed decisions.
And Zetamind is important because we don’t look at data value creation only from a technical or economical perspective. Our focus is on the reuse of data from a holistic point of view when we look at the capacity and the empowerment of organizations. Companies are used to working in silos – organizational and technical. Zetamind comes in to develop the idea that data use and reuse demands thinking beyond branches: technical, organizational and political. We help our customers generate ideas about data use, to think across borders. We help to think about technical and economic questions (legal, data protection, IP, copy rights) and about ethical questions.
Ethics is important, because many things can be done with data that is not technically forbidden but the algorithm can accidentally be discriminatory – this has, for example, happened in HR department. And this can put the company reputation at risk.
So, in short, Zetamind helps to create strategic governance and the “data use culture”.
Companies and administrations who want to reap better use of data and to reuse data -the data both from within and outside of your own organization. Most of our customers have data scientists in the organization but they are often limited to a certain area of the organization. This limits the potential of the data.
Data reuse is broad – it’s spanning over all areas of an organization – and long-term it contributes to all the various aspects and dimensions of the organizational culture, also the legal and ethical.
Companies and administrations can profit from our consultancy to establish a data culture for their organization, starting with small projects and use cases. We also do hackathons, which in practice means the open data movement. Hackathons are a really a great innovation approach that can be done with a small budget. It mobilizes a lot of ideas, a lot of people and gives very valuable results with only a few hours or days of engagement. We have gotten great results with hackathons on different levels.
Both my personal – and Zetamind’s – success is the open data movement. I think the development of the open data movement in Switzerland shows this.
“And I thought, okay, this (open data) is interesting, I want to know who is doing something in Switzerland on this and I learned that nobody did! So, I decided to start it.”
When we started this, it was a very special thing. I learned about open data in 2010 at a conference in Geneva and at the time I knew nothing about it. We were told about open government data from the USA – this was during the Obama era. And I thought, okay, this is interesting, I want to know who is doing something in Switzerland on this and I learned that nobody did! So, I decided to start it. I found colleagues from the open-source movement and connected them to the open data movement and together we started to act on a political level. 10 years later we have an open data platform at the federation and a first concept and implementation of an open government data platform.
The consciousness, I think. Telling about data reuse and how to approach it. But the consciousness is growing, especially in the last twelve months, with the pandemic. This really showed the value of data overall. But how to bring an organization on the way to make better use of data, to not only make data one of several aspects of the activity of the organization, but a real and strategic aspect of activity, this is, I think, the biggest challenge.
At the moment we have an idea and a network and a vision. Now we try to find new collaborators, who are younger. To work not only on the technical aspects, but also on data culture and the approach to data reuse. So, I hope we find these people, these companies and collaborators. And for that we work together with the university of Lucerne, where there’s a master course on applied data science. We know the founder of this course and we collaborate. It’s a possibility for master’s students to work with our project and to learn about data value creation and data culture.