Data spaces: The future of innovative ecosystems
With digital transformation, our world is more connected than ever before, and it‘s easier to share information with others by leveraging cloud technologies. However, when it comes to data exchanges, organizations face more challenges than you might expect.
Secure data spaces have become a business essential if enterprises are to fully unlock the value of their data.
Why data spaces are growing in importance
To better understand what data spaces are and why they are needed, it is important to appreciate how data processing has evolved in recent years.
Digital transformation often has an unintended impact on data management. Each business has evolved in its own direction and chosen its own tools to acquire, classify, store and handle data. This results in multiplying data platforms with their specific data policies and an overall lack of interoperability that makes external data sharing a complex process. Data spaces were developed as a response to this challenge and to encourage innovation.
According to Gaia-X, a data space is a “type of data relationship between trusted partners who adhere to the same high level standards and guidelines in relation to data storage and sharing within one of many vertical ecosystems.”
While this bodes well for a collaborative ecosystem, how does this impact competition among peers in a world where data is the new gold? Are we mature enough to consider combining our databases for an avant-garde centralized approach? Is this the way of the future?
The need for federation
There has been growing interest in data space platforms with a business ecosystem focus across traditional B2C and B2B industries, despite the apparent contradictions in their structural approaches: collective vs. individual and transformative vs. disruptive.
At first glance, even if simple platform economy concepts like multisided markets still have a role to play, industries or other bodies initiating data spaces for their business ecosystems will require many more ingredients. Besides a centralized way to organize and orchestrate ecosystem participants (as for multisided markets), other data sharing models and business interactions require more distributed approaches.
That’s where federated approaches play a role.
While a federated approach allows for a decentralized interaction model, it also provides a framework that defines rules that all participants must adhere to.
For the past several months and across the world, we have observed that digitally enabled business ecosystems or data spaces are depicted as the new horizon for businesses. For example, in Europe, the digitalization of key industry ecosystems is seen as a strategic move to recover, develop and strengthen the European economic space. Those data spaces bring challenges in terms of business models, service interoperability and data protection, Atos is actively addressing these on the edge to cloud continuum.
Enhancing verticalized collaboration
Many data space initiatives and projects have been launched in line with the data spaces for business ecosystem approach. This covers a wide variety of industries, and below we have provided some examples of how data spaces are enhancing collaboration within several industries:
European rail freight businesses in are organizing themselves into a coalition to address challenges that their industry is facing. One of the five pillars to address their challenges is to develop digital platforms to exchange operational data across countries and companies, enabling seamless transport and new competitive products.
In the Middle East, tenders are constantly afloat, including a bid for the creation of large digital platforms to support the setting and development of futuristic ecosystems in domains like tourism and logistics.
Since 2019, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has been developing the ONE Record standard: an end-to-end digital logistics and transport supply chain where data is easily and transparently exchanged in a digital ecosystem of air cargo stakeholders, communities and data platforms. The objective is to address the main challenges of e-freight, unlock the possibilities of a full digital air cargo industry and create opportunities for new value-added services and business models.
Stakeholders in France’s tourism industry are organizing themselves to protect and redistribute revenue within the ecosystem. They are looking for the legal and organizational means to collaborate more widely about data to face predatory models of large digital platforms which capture and enclose data in locked ecosystems.
In Europe, the automotive industry is organizing itself for a continuous data exchange with all contributors along the automotive value chain. This will ensure the economic viability of all network partners – from small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to corporate groups.
GAIA-X aims at developing a competitive, secure and trustworthy framework where data and services can be made available, collated and shared in an environment of trust. Many business initiatives from the same industry are organizing themselves into data spaces to explore opportunities that could emerge from sharing data inside their ecosystem. This includes defi
The above examples highlight a trend where companies and industries are evolving away from a focus on single-minded individual value creation towards a more collaborative approach, shifting from global domination to more focused markets.
Take a page out of this book
Most of the larger success stories are from B2C businesses, which seem to follow the same pattern of platform economy based on transaction-centric platforms with a dominant player ruling its ecosystem. Although many lessons can be learned, it is yet to be understood if and how alternate models can be successful in B2B and traditional industries, where data sharing plays a central role and alternate governance models are anticipated.
To take a deep dive into the challenges in the business ecosystem, Atos’s Journey 2026 Report outlines how you can create an innovative and secure ecosystem by leveraging data spaces.
About the author
Chief Technology Officer, Southern Europe, Atos
Frédéric Malicki is CTO for the Southern Europe RBU. He is responsible for bringing innovation and thought technology leadership in the region and supporting growth in our accounts. He has more than twenty years of experience in IT service delivery, solution architecture and consulting. Frédéric joined Atos in 2019 as CTO for IDM France. Prior to Atos, he worked for DXC Technology and HPE where he acted as a Client Executive, Account Delivery Executive, Solution Architect and SAP Consultant and worked for key accounts in France and EMEA. He is recognized as a dynamic team leader, able to rapidly adapt and comfortable with complexity. Frédéric holds an IT Master degree from the ISEN School of Engineering.