Values as a Core of TX’s Culture

2022-09-08

Jarmo Suoranta

Jarmo Suoranta
CEO and Head of Janitorial at TX

In Autumn 2021, TX arrived at a crossroads. One of our main teams developed a spin-off project, now known as Silta Finance, and it was their time to move away from home. At the same time, design company Sangre was merging its forces with ours. With all these changes happening simultaneously, we had to create a new identity for our company.

The new steering group seemed to be on the same page immediately, and we saw ourselves nodding together while commenting about how different decisions “align with our values.” But it’s not enough to convince ourselves we’re on the right track.

In the end, the Devil lives in the details, and assumptions are the seeds of confusion. Our values had to be explicitly defined if we were to share them with the rest of the world as well.

Why did we establish values?

Companies and organizations can be hugely successful without written values. Implicitly, values are present, but that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. The risk lies in situations where values aren’t completely aligned.

When you state your company’s values, it becomes more apparent to everyone where the company is headed. Values are like stars that can be used to navigate through difficult situations. Similarly to a ship of explorers, you might find new fruitful land just by drifting on currents, following seagulls, or whatever the person behind the wheel happens to value the most. Using an established navigation method can be more efficient – even when the captain is taking a nap. Then, it’s just about planning the route and trusting your compass even if there are storms along the way.

TX steering group on a nature walk
The TX steering group walking outside the usual office space looking for value company values.

Our main goal was to answer the following questions: What should really be the values we all can fully agree on, and what would they mean for the company?

The value process

Before we began, we knew we wanted to have something more than easily forgettable values. Instead, we wanted to capture the essence of the company’s identity and inspire the team. But we had no clue how we would get there. My personal ambition is always to try to utilize the power of the group. So that’s where we started.

We seldom enjoy the luxury of having all team members on the same premises because our team primarily works remotely in different parts of the world. Our Christmas party was one of those rare occasions, and we dedicated a few hours to discuss our values in a facilitated workshop. Individual thoughts were collected on what our values are, or what they should be, and then distributed into four different value groups: hygiene, inspirational, core, and accidental.

Many great thoughts and action points were generated during the workshop. At this point, however, I felt that we must abandon democracy for a while. So, deviating from my default leadership principles, I decided that the company’s steering group would define the next version of our values. At the end of the day, we are the ones who have to be fully committed to the values, and it’s our responsibility to make sure we walk the talk.

Before diving into another workshop, we wanted to get as much team input as possible. So we opened up a virtual Miro board and added the results from the previous exercises. For the duration of a few months, people could add new values and especially comment on existing ones.

With the table set, it was time to roll up our sleeves and begin the hardest part of polishing the many ideas into shiny diamonds. Our main goal was to answer the following questions: What should really be the values we all can fully agree on, and what would they mean for the company?

Instead of locking ourselves into a meeting room to force ideas to come out, we went for a hike. It was a crispy spring nature experience, this time involving the rolling of our trouser legs to waddle in chilly water. Not the most orthodox environment, but definitely stimulating. As the day closed to an end, we all thought we had managed to find the story we were seeking. Our values had taken shape on three pieces of paper.

The final step was publishing the values to the entire team and collecting new feedback. It was a big moment for the company to have all our ducks back in the same pond for our annual summer day. All in all, the values were well accepted, and people once again generated a lot of precious feedback. I have to say that I’m really pleased with our Devil’s advocates, who highlighted the weak spots of TX’s story because we are always in the process of iterating and developing. And we have to because continuous improvement is the main element of our values.

CEO Jarmo Suoranta unveiling the values to the TX team
CEO Jarmo Suoranta unveiling the company values to the TX team.

Our values

Our vision was split into three main categories rather than creating a list of values. The first category is the Gatekeeper rule, which describes the people we hope to work with and the bad behaviors we discourage within our team. The second category, internal values, explains how we want to conduct our daily operations. It’s essentially the core of our team culture. The last category illustrates our external values and what we expect from the businesses and people we interact with outside of TX.

The gatekeeper rule – Everyone is equal

The gatekeeper rule’s message is that no one is better than another. That means we don’t tolerate any form of racism, discrimination, or other bad behavior. You might be a supercoder, but that doesn’t make you superior.

Of course, defining “bad” behavior is a bit of a blurry subject. Some hints can be found in the book “The No Asshole Rule” written by Robert I. Sutton. Check out the “Dirty Dozen” part, which covers the signals for bad behavior quite well.

We included the no asshole rule as a working title for this value, but despite its catchy name, it’s a problematic term to put into use. Naming the gatekeeper value as something keeping assholes out of the room would implicitly signal that a badly behaving person is one. People rarely engage in toxic behavior intentionally, and they are generally willing to change behavior when given appropriate feedback (more about continuous improvement a little later!). Assigning a label to a person isn’t a constructive way to start a conversation. Instead, we want to embrace a more emphatic and constructive approach to avoiding bad behaviors.

Internal values – The core of our culture

At some point in our value polishing process, we noticed a story unfolding. It was a story that seemed to tie many individual values brought up by the team and from what we, as the steering group, found to be important in building a forerunner company. The story was built around the notion of continuous improvement and how to stay within that loop.

For someone to continuously improve, they should have the curiosity and courage to test new things. The environment should support this behavior by allowing them to feel safe to try and fail. These experiences are followed by direct but empathic feedback and a moment of reflection. We at the steering group felt that this is the story that embodies our culture.

Right now, the story is more inspirational than true. But I feel that as a team, we are committed to placing this story under the test of time. There will undoubtedly be failures along the way, but the feedback, especially from those missteps, will be greatly beneficial.

A TX member gathering donations for Ukrainian refugees
A TX member gathering donations for Ukrainian refugees.

External values – How we see the world

When we collected individual input from our team, Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Shocked by the news, we knew we wanted to do something, anything.

Our immediate action was to end our relationship with the Finnish ice hockey club Jokerit, which was primarily funded by Russian sources to play in the Russia-based KHL. In addition, our Polish presence began collecting items for Ukrainian refugees. Donations were given by individual team members and by TX, and the company matched all donations from employees.

When it was time for the steering group to define the company values, it was quite clear that our team is value-driven in terms of what behavior is esteemed and what isn’t. I personally care a lot about our planet, and I’m not alone in our company. We discussed topics like “caring about nature” as a value, but it didn’t sound believable or tangible. We wanted to express more concrete values and actions. Lastly, we also placed our existing and potential customers on two different axes: environmental and social behavior.

The first axis measures how the project or customer stands against our values related to the environment and nature. On the left is the “no-no zone,” which are companies we can’t work with. However, if there is a sincere expression to move toward the right with a joint venture, we could make an exception. This zone includes, e.g., the oil industry and companies seeking to increase consumption for profit. Other examples are web3 protocol projects that seek consensus based on highly consuming proof-of-work methods. On the right-hand side is the “pro bono” zone. As the name suggests, these are customers that we are happy to work with even without charge.

The environmental and social value axes of TX's values

The second axis is similar but reflects our views on social behavior. Intentional Ponzi schemes, pyramid projects, data robbery business models, and other bad behaviors belong to the left. On the right side are honest web3 projects focused on giving people control while maintaining transparent and distributed revenue share models.

If you are our existing customer, you have a place on both axes, and we would be happy to share our thoughts on your position. In case you feel passionate about shifting to the right, then let’s connect and exchange ideas.

The graphs aren’t meant to simply judge others for their actions. Instead, it is a tool to help us visualize the actions we can perform. Matching donations, as mentioned previously, is just one aspect. We could also strive to be carbon neutral in our operations. These questions are still open-ended, but I’m extremely proud and pleased with what we have achieved so far.

What’s next for TX?

Our next big step is to turn our values into concrete actions. As we learn and grow as both a company and as individuals, there is always room for improvement.

Therefore, I invite you to challenge us to improve. Is there something important we overlooked? Or maybe you know a better way to create a positive impact? Let us know if we are on the right path by sending a message to jarmo@tx.company.

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Reference image for the Successful Web3 Services Require More Than Code Strings post

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Successful Web3 Services Require More Than Code Strings

2022-08-31

Mikael Koskimaa

Mikael Koskimaa
CDO at TX

New businesses are entering the Web3 development space at remarkable speed. As startup companies rush to publish technical whitepapers for investors, the question of utility is often missed. While we are busy building the next big thing for the internet, we shouldn’t forget about the fundamentals of great design, which includes understanding who the end users are and what they want.

The general Web3 process goes something like this: you come up with an idea that could utilize blockchain technology and then write down a list of impressive features for the final product. This shopping list is then presented to investors who may bind you to deliver each item successfully. With this funding in hand, it’s time to endure one or more years of intensive labor to deliver the promised results.

This type of waterfall development is similar to past IT developments – and is still widely used in projects funded by the public sector. However, I have yet to see a spec sheet that has been 100% accurate from beginning to end. Elements that are considered business-critical may end up being irrelevant to the end users. This is where agile methods and service design techniques came into play to invite users into the design process.

The Web3 space is undergoing the same maturation cycle as web2.0, where businesses pump out the newest innovations without much regard to the people using the technology. Web2.0 has come a long way in understanding people’s needs and designing appropriate services and products. Remember the words by Steve Jobs back in 1997? “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward for the technology.” Now, the challenge is applying that knowledge to Web3, which is inherently more complex due to its decentralized nature.

“We must be able to understand what incentivizes people and organizations to contribute within a decentralized ecosystem actively.”

The principal drivers of good design remain unchanged. But rather than being “only” B2B or B2C, stakeholders may range from A to Z. We must be able to understand what incentivizes people and organizations to contribute within a decentralized ecosystem actively. Just because they can technically do something doesn’t mean they will. 

Token compensation is perhaps the most commonly used incentive method. But rewarding people with a nominal number of tokens might not be enough to convince people to jump through the hoops of connecting their accounts to the system. These human understanding questions should be equally high on the priority list alongside the technical challenges.

To summarize, Web3 projects should be approached like any other service: from a human perspective. By understanding the connection between stakeholders, it becomes possible to build a self-sustaining ecosystem. Once the ecosystem foundations have been designed, it becomes a matter of building the technology that empowers new services.

Feel like bouncing your ideas off someone’s head? Find a time from my calendar or reach out by e-mail: mikael@tx.company.

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Decentralized Sitting: Digital Nomad Working With TX

2022-08-24

Jarmo Suoranta

Jarmo Suoranta
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The TX office was always full of people coding and mingling until the pandemic struck. Like many other companies, we have also made the permanent shift from remote-friendly toward remote-first. Although the brain hub still lives in Finland, many of our members are scattered in different countries as digital nomads. Here’s how it’s done.

Simply put, the TX members living in Finland are either direct employees or independent contractors. Those outside Finland are hired as contractors or through a third-party global employment platform (GEP). The most important notion of our arrangement is that everyone remains equal. There are no special “external employees” mailboxes or exclusions from personal development support and bonus incentive plans.

So, what does it mean to be a contractor and be equal? It means you are part of the team! And as a team member, you’re expected to contribute actively. We’re not really in the habit of hiring someone as an outsider, giving them a list of deadlines to meet, and then saying goodbye. There is no such thing as “working for TX.” We’re working with each other at TX.

Currently, we are about 30 people strong in locations such as Poland, Spain, Sweden, Vietnam, and the US. Sure, scheduling can require some coordination as we aim to be online during Finnish office hours. However, people go through similar conversations about avoiding morning meetings because they prefer afternoons. Different time zones may even boost collaborative work so that everyone feels energetic at the same time.

TX CEO Jarmo Suoranta working as a digital nomad by a Finnish lake.
One of our newest nomads got hired by the lake.

The TX Digital Nomad Model

Working as a contractor always includes some extra responsibilities. It’s up to the individual to ensure their taxes, insurances, social security, and other mandatory arrangements are made accordingly, their equipment enables them to work seamlessly, and so on. This is nothing unique to life as a contractor, but that’s the trade-off for being able to work from wherever the sun most shines – or doesn’t shine if that’s your thing.

There are also situations where setting up your own business is not possible or extremely difficult. In that case, we can still work together using a GEP. A GEP essentially employs you in your home country and sells your service to us. This option might suit you best if you prefer to take things easy.

Whichever location and model you choose, we will try to make the transition as smooth as possible. Get in touch with TX by applying to one of our positions or simply drop us an open application.

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Streamr’s decentralized network launch, with Co-founder Henri Pihkala

2021-09-15

In this podcast TX Head of Technology Jarno Marttila and Streamr co-founder Henri Pihkala discuss the newest advancements and the future of the Streamr decentralized real-time network project. Streamr is now approaching its Brubeck milestone and opening up for regular network users to host their own network nodes. Ahead of the Brubeck mainnet launch, a testnet was recently opened to run a series of technical tests with around 4000 network nodes signing up almost immediately, thus marking an impressive kickoff for the network.

Unlike traditional data networks, Streamr is not based on a centralized message broker but on each user or data consumer also acting as a network node and passing the messages to other users. What results is a massively scalable and fast network for data transport. Participation in this decentralized network can be called mining as it is comparable to the role of network nodes in Bitcoin and Ethereum, with some important exceptions. Instead of meaningless operations that burn energy, users share their bandwidth and thus contribute their valuable resources to the network.

Decentralized networks are ‘a classic case of a solution looking for a problem’, as Mr. Pihkala puts it. They have a disruptive potential that will gradually change the way applications are created on the internet, giving rise to what is called the Web3.0. This kind of disruption has already happened in the story of BitTorrent that forced the music and film industries to completely change their business models.

He also gives some practical advice to those willing to join this revolution. You can simply install the Streamr software on your Raspberry Pi, connect it to the testnet and start earning small crypto payments for hosting your own Streamr node.

Watch the video podcast on Youtube, or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

In the TX Podcast series, we dive into web 3 technologies and data economies with guests from forward-thinking companies around the world. Tune in for talks about the next generation of internet technologies, blockchain, DeFi, cryptocurrencies, IoT, AI and machine learning.

Follow us on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter via the form below.

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Creating anti-rival tokens for collaboration and sharing in ATARCA

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This episode focuses on the key concepts of ATARCA (Accounting Technologies for Anti-Rival Coordination and Allocation), a two-year research project that TX has embarked on earlier this year. The aim of ATARCA is to investigate in its two pilot experiments how blockchain technologies can be used to create new types of businesses based on the replicable nature of digital resources. 

Head of Technology Jarno Marttila from TX and Dr. Esko Hakanen who is the Project Manager of ATARCA and a post-doctoral researcher at Aalto University talk about what the concept of anti-rival goods means, and how anti-rivalry could turn out to revolutionalise business especially with immaterial goods such as information within the next 20-30 years. 

They also discuss the more complex question of if and how this concept can be taken even to traditional and asset intensive sectors such as manufacturing where the new roles of collaboration, connectivity, and sustainability require added interaction and agile experimentation across companies, something which can benefit from anti-rival tokenisation.

Watch the video podcast on Youtube, or listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

In the TX Podcast series, we dive into web 3 technologies and data economies with guests from forward-thinking companies around the world. Tune in for talks about the next generation of internet technologies, blockchain, DeFi, cryptocurrencies, IoT, AI and machine learning.

Follow us on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter via the form below.


ATARCA has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Any dissemination of results here presented reflects only the consortium view.

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KRAKEN: Overcoming the challenge of privacy in data marketplaces with MPC

2021-06-09

Rob Holmes
Head of Partnerships at TX

Data marketplaces have the potential to foster new data-driven applications and help grow data-driven businesses. However deploying such markets in compliance with data protection regulations such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) poses significant challenges for marketplaces that aim to provide access to personal or privacy-sensitive data.

Health data is one such example of highly sensitive personal data. It is a vital component in the provision of national health care services, and wider access at a European or even global level is crucial in the fight against cross-border health threats such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Governments want healthier populations and less strain on health care infrastructure whilst citizens want to ensure their health and that of their loved ones. But citizens also want to maintain their privacy and be sure their data is not subject to data breaches or leakages, and that organizations accessing their data cannot use it to target or discriminate against them.

MPC enables privacy-preserving computation on encrypted and secured datasets

In the EU Horizon 2020 funded KRAKEN project, in collaboration with our consortium partners we are tackling these challenges head on. We’re developing a GDPR compliant personal data marketplace that integrates with a secure Multi Party Computation (MPC) network to allow interested parties within the biomedical sector to perform distributed and privacy-preserving analytics on data. This means that interested parties that meet a data provider’s eligibility criteria for access will be able to perform analytics or computation on datasets without any sensitive personal data about the data subjects being revealed to them.

Imagine a scenario of several European hospitals each hosting MPC nodes on their local servers. They would be able to set their preferences with regards to the types of organisations having access to perform analytics on their data sets and make them discoverable to interested and eligible organisations via the marketplace User Interface. An eligible organisation such as a pharmaceutical company could pay to perform privacy preserving analytics on multiple hospital data sets either via a license which enables them to run unlimited queries on the data for a specified period of time or via a pay-per-query model. 

The use of MPC allows organisations such as hospitals and research institutions share their analytics without revealing sensitive personal data.

Such an approach would open up access to widely dispersed and siloed health data for analysis, whilst ensuring that data providers don’t need to worry that their sensitive data is being exposed to any third party.

For a more in-depth look at the concept, check out the paper written by TX – Tomorrow Explored’s Donato Pellegrino and our consortium partners at Graz University of Technology and AIT Austrian Institute of Technology.

You can download the research paper entitled “Privacy-preserving Analytics for Data Markets using MPC” from the arXiv.org service for free with the following link. The paper was written by Karl Koch, Stephan Krenn, Donato Pellegrino and Sebastian Ramacher.

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Making personal data accessible while strictly private – Design challenges in the KRAKEN project

2021-05-26

Markku Nousiainen
Senior Designer, TX

KRAKEN is an ongoing three-year project that TX has embarked on as part of a consortium of 10 European tech companies and research institutions. The aim of this project which is funded by EU’s Horizon2020 programme is to build a privacy preserving marketplace for personal data in full compliance with the GDPR regulation, and based on novel technologies such as blockchain, SSI (self-sovereign identity), and SMPC (secure multi-party computing).

The project is currently in its second year and approaching its first prototype launch, which gives an opportunity for an overview of intermediate results and learnings. A recent blog post by Rob Holmes delves into a more specific description of the project and its goals, while the point of view in this post is that of a designer working on KRAKEN’s frontend user experience.

What’s so difficult in trading (access to) personal data?

Trading access to someone’s personal data, obviously with the informed consent of that person, does not need to be more complicated than regular ecommerce. However, current data marketplaces are merely at the first stage in their evolution and thus comparable to  webshops in the turn of the millenium. Many users (both data providers and consumers) are first timers and need guidance in why and how to share data, including more abstract topics related to privacy and legality. 

A web survey conducted last year in the KRAKEN project indicated that many institutions in the healthcare sector have potentially valuable data to be shared, but struggle to do it because they lack either a strategy or policy to share data, or a clear consent from the data subjects. The typical way to exchange data is still directly between the data providers and consumers, without brokers or platforms that could help to form the market, connect the demand of data with its supply, and support both parties in fulfilling the legal requirements. 

For legal reasons, personal data cannot be sold like any ordinary commodity. We need to think of selling in a limited sense by providing access to personal datasets instead of passing their ownership to the buyer. Another consideration is that to be legally compliant,  the data marketplace should probably not have the data in its possession and thus become a so-called data controller. When combined, these two limitations lead to an architecture and service concept in which the marketplace facilitates the trade process by creating a connection between data providers and consumers, without the data ever passing through the marketplace infrastructure.

The data providers who monetise data often need to protect the privacy of data subjects through anonymisation and follow the general principle of minimising data to only the absolutely necessary, while data users eg. in biomedical research may have the opposite wish to gain access to datasets which are rich in background and personal profile data. This is an in-built difference in expectations that should be mediated by the marketplace. In order to service the needs of both sides of the market, marketplaces may feature data product formats that are made to fine-tune the level of privacy, such as the SMPC.

Many existing data marketplaces operate strictly in the B2B market and serve institutional clients only, while data sharing mobile apps are often aimed at individuals who want to share their own data. One of the starting points in KRAKEN is to break this strict division of the data market and approach both user groups. As pointed out later in this post, extra efforts are required for individuals to connect to the marketplace in the form of innovative data sharing technologies (Data Unions), frontends such as mobile or smartwatch apps, and service concepts which are tailored for them. 

Owing to today’s data-hungry research, innovation and business activities, especially artificial intelligence and machine learning, the use of personal data has the potential to expand rapidly. However, the concerns of privacy and legality, and lacking data sharing strategies and platforms contribute to making the availability of suitable datasets a bottleneck for many data users. KRAKEN promises to tackle these concerns.

The KRAKEN marketplace is approaching its first pilot launch and several rounds of user testing.

Trading access to someone’s personal data, obviously with the informed consent of that person, doesn’t need to be more complicated than regular ecommerce. However, current data marketplaces are merely at the first stage in their evolution and thus comparable to webshops in the turn of the millenium.

The KRAKEN design approach

The above challenges are related to both technology and design and can be approached by analysing the data provider and consumer needs carefully and tailoring the marketplace design accordingly. The project follows roughly the paradigm of user-centered design in which the designers focus on users and their needs at every stage of the project, typically by involving them in an iterative process in which the design is improved in incremental development cycles. 

Each year of the KRAKEN project has a different focus from the design point of view as follows: 

Year 1 was spent on user research and modeling the marketplace user flow through wireframing. User research and service design was done with a web survey, interviews, personas, and design workshops. The results from this process such as user stories and wireframes were deployed as input to the software development. 

In Year 2 the focus is on finalising the UI and UX design, launching successive marketplace prototypes and gathering feedback from them through user testing.

In Year 3 the goal will be to improve the marketplace experience iteratively and based on quick feedback from possible platform users, and thus accelerate the design cycle. The design work will be connected to marketing and sales efforts which aim at the launch of the marketplace.

…the concerns of privacy and legality, and lacking data sharing strategies and platforms contribute to making the availability of suitable datasets a bottleneck for many data users.”

How to apply design to empower the users and smoothen the user-experience

Contrary to the personal data protection (of both data subjects and platform users) which is ensured by the underlying technological layers in KRAKEN, I find that the main role of design in this project is to make data sharing actually happen by empowering and educating users and offering them an easy access to the platform. 

Making KRAKEN a compelling and easy-to-use platform needs to begin with educating and guiding first time users and enabling their onboarding, while ensuring that more experienced data providers and consumers can reach their goals efficiently. Through design (and some marketing), the underlying technologies can be made understandable, their relevant applications compelling, and their use easy and accessible – although the integration of technical components such as a crypto wallet, SSI credentials, and encryption into a seamless frontend experience can be a challenge.

An integral part of the user experience is the design of search tools for users to find data products of their interest, and the metadata that powers the search. Data products differ from typical webshop items in this regard, as they are often suited to very specific purposes only. The search logic may also differ from one sector or use case to another and thus call for a tailored metadata structure, exemplified by the two KRAKEN pilots in biomedical and education data. A ‘one size fits all’ search box will probably not work as the users require more specific filtering options. For example, biomedical data products can be searched with a medical taxonomy, while university course grades would be found with such metadata as the name of the university, education programme, and course. It is possible to improve the discoverability of data products with this kind of sector specific tailoring, but a price is paid each time the marketplace is scaled to a new data market sector. An ideal metadata system would thus combine an essentially uniform structure with some modularity and customisation.

Privacy and legal (mainly GDPR) compliance are main selling points of the KRAKEN platform, as the project aims not only to fulfill the requirements, but to excel in these areas. To implement the compliance truly well beyond the platform architecture, there is also a need to make users actually understand their rights and obligations, provide their informed consent, and remind them whenever needed. This all requires careful UX design. It is a challenge to guide users to wise privacy choices with carefully laid out options, explanations, limitations, and help texts. It remains to be seen to which extent the data market will be driven with the same principles of privacy and legal compliance as in KRAKEN, as there always exist consumers that prefer a less privacy preserving approach that poses less limitations.

B2B data marketplaces tend to focus on institutional, professional users and the monetisation of data from their own field of expertise, while the motives and skills of individual persons, or data subjects, to share their data may be very different. It appears that personal data has often more value when applied to the individual’s own utility than if it’s simply monetised. In the lines of this, many existing data sharing apps aim to create value by empowering their users, giving them control to their own data, and providing options to share the data for their own benefit. In the context of KRAKEN, individuals with a certain shared cause such as a medical condition or shared sports or hobby interests would be good candidates to data sharing. A generally accepted cause to share data (such as to support medical research), or the support of a peer group makes the sharing all the more likely. 

The way that KRAKEN will interface with individuals is mainly through Data Unions, which are platforms for crowd-selling data and sharing the revenue between the individuals. To function correctly, Data Unions need their own service providers or administrators who act as intermediaries between individuals and the marketplace. They are also likely to have their own interfaces, eg. mobile apps for the collection of the data, thus circumventing the KRAKEN frontend which is more attuned to institutional users. The integration of Data Unions is however an upcoming topic in KRAKEN as the current first pilot prototype caters mainly for institutional users and the B2B data market. 

Tackling the project risk with detailed market knowledge

The three-year timeframe of KRAKEN is long enough for the market to change during the project, which means that some of the initial assumptions may need to be changed. Now that the project is reaching its half-way milestone and beginning the pilot phase, it is time to do these redefinitions if necessary. To give an example, one of the questions under consideration is which currencies, either crypto or ‘normal’ fiat ones, will be used for trading on the platform. According to our web survey, the adoption of cryptocurrencies is not yet widespread in many of our target groups. 

All in all, as a forward-looking initiative that aims to change the modality and terms of data sharing, KRAKEN faces also a risk of failure in its entry to market. 

The basic concept of data marketplaces is simple, and the complexity is all in the details. This explains why a project of the size of KRAKEN is needed to make data trading platforms comply with the current and upcoming legal and privacy standards. Another reason to the big challenge is that personal data is a highly specialised product with niche markets, user groups and use cases that should be understood – all of which contributes to making the project heavy in research and design work.

The writer is a senior UX and Service Designer at TX – Tomorrow Explored who specialises in data economies and decentralized Web 3.0 services and ecosystems.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement Nº 871473. Any dissemination of results here presented reflects only the consortium view.

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