In this highlight from our January webinar with experts on data at work for enterprises, Market's for Good's Eric J. Henderson asked, how can a small organization with a small budget get started on the data trail?
Panelist Annie Donovan of Coop Metrics responds: team up with like organizations. Meanwhile Datakind's Jake Porway answers: Look creatively at what you already have. The purpose of the panel was to discuss the nature of mission-driven and finance-driven data. Watch and read more below...
Eric: "If I’m a small organization and I’m looking for new ways to think about that interplay between mission and finance, what questions might I begin asking so I can discover perhaps new counterintuitive things about my business?"
Jake: "Is that to both of us or just to me, or is it..?"
Eric: "To both of you. I know we’re running low on time but I would love to hear– I’m basically asking how would I think about my organization so I could take advantage of all of this, what we’ve just put in the air, the interplay of mission and finance data? There have to be either some new ratios or new hypotheses that I should come up with. And where would I start with my thinking there in order to just get on the road? Because once we’re on the road, then things do develop, infrastructures even develop. So I’ll leave it there." Jake: "Annie, do you want to take that one?"
Annie: "Sure. One of the things that we encourage is for people to act together because it reduces cost. If you think about the HomeKeeper example that I used earlier, there are about 50 organizations that participate in that program and if they all had gone out and created their own 50 platforms for managing this same program, it’s a lot of expense, and it could be overwhelming. By coming together and building one system they’re creating more standardization but also they’re creating community around it. And this is where the sort of data sociology stuff comes in. Then you’re starting to make sense of what you’re seeing for your own organization, but also in relationship to what else is happening in your sector. So it can be a powerful mechanism for getting to where we want to get to faster."
Jake: "Thinking about both new sources of data that are widely available, and sources of data that are often referred to as “data exhaust”, the data that your companies are collecting that you may not have thought of as relevant in mission, may be an interesting place to start.
"Some examples of this that we’ve seen are groups that deliver services via cell phone. They’re really one of the big wins there for technology, going back to this example I alluded to, was a group that lets people go to local community health workers to then have them text their symptoms to a doctor somewhere. Then with that information you think that’s great, you’re giving service delivery. But as an end result you also have all this information about data, about how people are using your system. If you just look into that data you can start to see what times of day people are more likely to show up, you can see the symptoms people are asking about over time."
Eric: "That’s smart." Jake: "You may even have a database of early warning symptoms of outbreaks at a local rural level that even people like the WHO don’t have. And so thinking in new ways about the data that’s collected as just a side effect of just delivering your programs may even be able to help you go that extra step beyond, 'I had this many people show up' to 'This many people showed up and this is what happened.' "
Editor's note: The above is an excerpt from our January 2014 webinar titled The Power of Information. However, videos from Spreecast are no longer available due to a change in business model.