How Data for Good Can Integrate with Your Business Intelligence
Have you ever considered that the data, tools and services your company uses everyday could also be applied to community and humanitarian efforts?
Attracting and keeping customers today means a brand has to offer more than just amazing products and services. Consumers want to know a brand is acting responsibly and giving back.
One way to do that is data philanthropy. And it’s easier than you might think.
The recent Data Philanthropy and Data for Good panel at Bloomberg’s The Value of Data conference, sponsored by Western Digital and hosted in New York, discussed the many ways companies can contribute:
- Donating a dataset (aggregated, anonymized or basic foundational data)
- Donating data science expertise (data cleanup, data insights)
- Donating use of an algorithmic tool
- Donating use of a visualization or insights tool
- Apply existing services to a social need
The three panelists are all experienced technologists who shared the insights highlighted below.
- John Paul Farmer, Director of Technology and Civic Innovation at Microsoft
- Jake Porway, Founder and CEO of DataKind
- Mallory Freeman, Lead Data Scientist Advanced Technology at UPS
What is Data for Good?
The panel expressed that the idea is broad and can represent various applications of…
- raw data,
- data science,
- algorithms and machine learning,
- even tools and technologies to address humanitarian and societal needs.
Ultimately businesses have many options when it comes to executing a “data philanthropy” program, but the consensus was that we are living in a time when the same tools that drive business and create value for customers can and should be applied to social causes.
Company leaders can be thinking of this as an alternative application or extension of their existing services, not just as a donation or volunteer effort.
“How can a big company like Microsoft make sure that the data, platforms and tools we use have business use cases, but also have those pro social use cases.” — John Paul Farmer, Director of Technology and Civic Innovation at Microsoft
Watch this short video to hear the panelists full answer the first question:
My company wants to develop a Data Philanthropy program. Where do I start?
Mallory Freeman leads the Data Scientist Advanced Technology team at UPS and suggested the best way to start is by looking at your businesses core competencies, then matching that with a nonprofit or social initiative that could benefit from those services or the data itself.
DataKind is one organization that actually helps companies match personnel and technologies with the organizations that need them.
“A lot of the big changes are not around just data as a raw resource, but algorthms and predictive analytics and all the things you can do with it. And that’s actually fairly new in the social sector.” — Jake Porway, Founder of DataKind
In the clip below, panelist John Paul Farmer shares a few examples of what Microsoft is doing to match their existing tools with organizations that can greatly benefit from them.
Can donating actual datasets compromise my proprietary business?
Microsoft’s John Paul Farmer suggests there are ways you can provide “foundational” data that could drive immense insights for a social need while still protecting a business advantage.
Mallory Freeman cited the example of UPS donating datasets about the air network that UPS operates across to better inform pandemic response logistics for getting vaccines, medical supplies and emergency assistance to an area in need.
When it comes to donating datasets, understanding where a company’s data can complement and enhance instead of duplicating existing public datasets is an important first step.
“Move purposefully and fix things.” — John Paul Farmer, Director of Technology and Civic Innovation at Microsoft
When it comes to increasing concerns about data privacy, John Paul Farmer shared that companies are operating much more carefully today, approaching both business and social use of data more thoughtfully and ethically.
Mallory Freeman shared that a code of ethics checklist, such as the one the Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange uses, is a good start to protecting privacy when sharing data.
Learn More about Data Philanthropy
Jake Porway of DataKind went on to address the challenges of both sharing and protecting privacy with some very illuminating examples in the video clip below.
A World of Data for Good Options
One thing is clear: companies have many options for participating in data philanthropy.
“There’s really an increased movement in data philanthropy. It’s not just about donating data, but donating people that can work with data as well as technology.” — Mallory Freeman, Lead Data Scientist Advanced Technology at UPS