While AI might be at the top of the agenda on the Gartner Grapevine floor (see our Head of Product and Head of Product Strategy wrap-ups from day one and two), there’s another topic that’s generating a lot of attention: using data for good. Yesterday I went to Cindi Howson’s session, “Doing Good With Data: How to Impact Society and Create a ‘Data for Good’ Culture,” to dive deeper into the subject, and here’s my summary.

What is “Data for Good”?

According to Cindi, “data for good is a movement in which people and organizations transcend boundaries to use data to improve society.” This can span across a few different areas for analytics providers – from attracting talent with social initiatives and volunteer opportunities to starting foundations and supporting data philanthropy. Cindi also cited the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI report saying that 71% of respondents heavily consider a vendor’s ethics, culture, and diversity when selecting an analytics solution.

Data for good isn’t only being leveraged by analytics vendors. Individuals, NGOs, governments, and communities are also beginning to look at their own data, open data sources, technology, and people to create social change. Their work has already started – from rescuing sex trafficking victims to saving endangered animals – but the possibilities are really endless with all of the data being produced on a daily basis.

How Can You Get Started?

On an individual level, you can donate your skills and time to causes that you’re passionate about. However, if you want to start thinking about data for good within your own organization, there are a few steps Cindi outlined in her session on how to get started:

  1. Engage in the conversation – Using data to create social and environmental change isn’t a new concept. There are tons of places online where you can see what other people are talking about and challenges they’re already working to solve.
  2. Look internally for opportunities – Start internally. Do you have data on the amount of waste your office is producing? Are you paying attention to your own emissions and carbon footprint? How can you make your day to day operations more environmentally friendly?
  3. Evaluate your internal data – What data does your organization own that could be used externally for social good? If connected to other, publicly available sources could you make it even richer and gain deeper insights?
  4. Start a program – Internal charitable and giving initiatives are the easiest place to start. Expanding into foundations or reduced price software for specific verticals are other avenues to explore.

Support Customers Doing Good

Using data for good can go beyond analytics providers themselves. Oftentimes, your customers have access to data that they can leverage for good.

Take, for example, TruHome Solutions, a mortgage banking credit union service organization. Following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma they used Sisense to pre-emptively get in touch with those with affected homes and help them determine what they should do next. On top of that, they suspended late fees, payments, and other negative credit effects. Talk about using data for a good cause! It makes me proud to know that our solution was part of that effort.

Cindi’s session was a great primer on “data for good” and I look forward to seeing how the trend continues to create positive social and environmental change now that more and more people are paying attention to it.

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