Black Box Data addiction will kill your business, warns new report

white box data revolution with logo

For the past 50 years, companies, regulators, investigators and journalists have mostly used ‘Black Box’ data – data that is opaque, not well defined, uses proprietary identifiers, and has poor data quality feedback loops. But continued reliance on this data could put a firm out of business within five years, according to a new report by OpenCorporates.

‘The White Box Data Revolution’ is a new white paper from OpenCorporates, which is a leading provider of open company data. It involved interviews with more than ten data experts, including Mike Olson, Co-Founder of Cloudera; Hudson Hollister, who founded the Data Coalition, and Scott Bell, Managing Director at Deutsche Bank.

The report shows how the inherent problems of Black Box data have been exacerbated with recent trends like KYC regulation, globalisation and the connectedness of data. It offers a solution to the problem with a newly-coined phrase: White Box data.

White Box data follows a well defined and transparent data model which is clear about what it represents, including provenance and open identifiers. The report describes how White Box data has been successfully used by regulators and journalists for investigations; by banks for verification; and by tech firms and banks for data aggregation. It explores case studies of companies including MasterCard and LexisNexis.

Chris Taggart, Co-Founder of OpenCorporates, said: “This in-depth report involved interviews with leaders in banking, tech and investigations and it identifies a clear trend: the smartest players are already moving from Black Box to White Box data sources. Some larger companies are sticking with Black Box data for now, but this approach will give their competitors a clear run and let them develop better products. I predict that in five years’ time, using Black Box data will seem as laughable as buying an old Nokia phone or a diesel car.”

The report concludes by offering recommendations for companies looking to change their data model from Black Box to White Box. It suggests that companies make gradual changes by introducing White Box sources when they develop a new product.

Read the full report, ‘The White Box Data Revolution’.

For more information, or to request an interview with Chris Taggart or one of the experts interviewed for the report, contact

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