Photo Mikal Schlosser

Do you know your data’s worth?

Monday 04 Jan 21


Pierre Pinson
DTU Management
+45 23 98 32 21


Mette Wier
Professor, Head of Department
DTU Management
+45 45 25 44 33
The more data we share, the more informed society's decision-making become. This is the opinion of Pierre Pinson, who is new professor in operations research at DTU Management. Therefore, it should be safer and more profitable for consumers to share their information. 

"Then you just need to agree to give up your firstborn child" says the IT staff at DTU Management with a joking smile, while helping a colleague install a new program on her computer. The remark is aimed at the installed program’s terms and conditions, which the co-worker accepts without further ado. 

Figuring out how programs and websites retrieve data from other applications and what this data is used for seems almost impossible. But now is the time to change that, says Pierre Pinson, who is otherwise in strong favour of data sharing as a way of qualifying the public debate. One of his goals as new professor in operation research at DTU Management is to strengthen the consumer’s control of their data, as well as their approach to data sharing.

“The European Union is trying to fix the problem with GDPR regulations that are so strict, one can barely photograph my own kid at the kindergarten anymore. In my opinion, what we should do instead, is to make the value of our data more visible” he says.   

A data marketplace with fair prices

Pierre Pinson’s vision is an online data marketplace, where all are able to sell their personal information to businesses or scientists, instead of giving it away for free, more or less unknowingly, when using services as Facebook and Google.

The idea itself is not new and do actually exist in several versions online. But by drawing on his field of expertise Pierre Pinson aims to contribute with an important new aspect.

”No one has properly looked at the value assessment and negotiation processes for data yet. For such a marketplace to work, the consumers and businesses have to start negotiating based on a price that is neither too cheap nor too expensive, while reflecting privacy and competitiveness issues. This is where the economic skillsets at DTU Management may play an important part“ he says.

Pierre Pinson’s ultimate aim is giving the consumers incentive to share their data in a much safer and more profitable way compared to now. “For the benefit of the whole society” he adds.


Data can save the shipping industry money and CO2

"The European Union is trying to fix the problem with GDPR regulations that are so strict, one can barely photograph my own kid at the kindergarten anymore. In my opinion, what we should do instead, is to make the value of our data more visible"
Pierre Pinson, professor, DTU Management

Extracting useful knowledge for the society from large datasets is a central part of Pierre Pinson’s work. His core area is adjusting complicated models in order to optimize decision-making under uncertainty in society and business. For instance, by helping the shipping industry cut both expenses as well as CO2.

He collaborates with Maersk, who are investing heavily in digitization these years. Therefore, the company can quantify processes, which have not been documented before. Data, which Pierre Pinson can turn into predictions about future demand, which helps the company make decisions under uncertainty.

When for instance a container has been used in one part of the world, it is most valuable to have a well-founded idea of where it will be needed next. Then you can ship it directly to Shanghai instead of wasting fuel bringing it to a storage room in Copenhagen. 

“Our models can help not just Maersk but the entire shipping industry making more qualified decisions under uncertainty” he says.

Better models make more well-informed leaders

However, Pierre Pinson is aware that the calculations of his models are no better than the information he feeds them. Hence, another focus in his research will be to adjust the models to be able to cope with the growing amounts of data in society.

“The more data the models are capable of handling, the better we can help politicians and business leaders keep track of all available information” he says.

That is another good reason to aim for a safer way to share data, he finds. Pierre Pinson could easily see himself collaborate with the public sector in the future, for instance on how to distribute beds in intensive care units at hospitals. But traditionally, the Danish Health Authority has been reluctant to share data.

“Understandably, as they need better platforms” says Pierre Pinson. “That’s why I look forward to get to working at DTU Management” he adds.

Room for great ideas

Although Pierre Pinson will be surrounded by new colleagues today, he is far from a stranger at DTU Lyngby campus. He has worked as both an associate professor at DTU Compute and a professor at DTU Elektro. 

He believes that the visions expressed in this interview can come true thanks to the culture at DTU. A culture that made him professor at only 32 and has made him feel free to pursue any ambition.

“I’m not just saying it to be politically correct. I’m truly super grateful. The trust I’ve met here is one of a kind in the academic world” he says.

He hopes to be able to give back by doing innovative and groundbreaking research. Mette Wier, Head of Department at DTU Management, has no doubt that Pierre Pinson will be a positive addition to the department.

“We are happy and proud that Pierre is joining DTU Management. He will strengthen the Division of Management Science, which is already a world leader within its field. With Pierre's profile our research can make an even greater difference for society” she says.