When we talk about innovating the future, when we warn about the dangers of disruptors appearing from anywhere, it can sometimes be hard for businesses to really appreciate the way in which technology is rapidly changing the business landscape. It’s good therefore to be able to report from time to time on a real example which may have profound implications for some businesses.
On the face of it, the new free service from Companies House which provides access to data which is currently held on the UK register of companies is unlikely to send shockwaves through the business community as an example of radical innovation. However, a glance at the information available within the 170 million digital records which have so far been released reveals a different story. Directors’ details, company accounts, lists of shareholdings, details of charges; all these and more are now available at the click of mouse.
The fact that this information is now available for free from Companies House is likely to substantially affect or even disrupt the business models of those organisations which offer a paid company director or business information service. But more than that, it will also potentially affect inter-business relationships. In the past, whether or not you undertook background checks on future clients, suppliers, trading partners or even rivals was a business decision which was partly influenced by cost. Now part of that cost element has been removed the way is open for a freer exchange of business information.
Those who value privacy may bemoan the freer availability of information. However, those who see the future of business as being more innovation-led, open and collaborative may welcome this new move which is only one element of the government’s commitment to free data.