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Posted by KC Decker on May 05, 2014
Let’s talk about ideas. They can come in all shapes and sizes – big ideas, small ideas, incremental ideas, etc. Some have a large global impact. Others have a “ripple effect;” but, at the end of the day, each and every idea has the power to affect change.
Now, let’s get to the root of these ideas – insights derived from data. Behind every great idea is a problem, which can be solved using data-driven, actionable insights.
That’s our thinking here at Booz Allen Hamilton. We see data, and data science, as the “white knight” that can help guide the problem solver to the right solutions and the right ideas through informed decision making. Let me share an example of what this looks like.
Recently, we co-sponsored the Big Data Analytics Team Challenge in Atlanta. The event brought together data scientists from around the Atlanta metro area to compete in a quest for a new idea, a new way of working and, ultimately, a new innovation for our philanthropic partner CARE, a global humanitarian agency.
CARE needed a problem solved – they needed to develop new approaches for engaging with prospective donors and, ultimately, converting those donors into members of the CARE community. Using data from CARE as well as other publically available sources, six teams of data scientists drawn from the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors used a cloud-based, analytical environment to analyze and derive insights from the data.
The teams used both inductive and deductive reasoning to identify patterns – looking for and finding correlations between donor interests and the regularity of donations made. Innovative techniques for data mapping, cleansing and statistical analysis were deployed with each team finding a unique path through the data using their collective cloud instance. Some ideas were expected, such as when they found that when donors expressed interest in a CARE activity, e.g. clean water or medical aid, they tended to contribute more often. Some ideas have invoked real change with CARE such asthe winning team’s analysis, finding a pattern in donations that allowed CARE to tell – by year two! – which donors would remain connected with the organization for the next decade. This insight is a game changer for how CARE can conduct stakeholder outreach allowing them to more effectively carry out their mission.
Many of the ideas raised by the teams will inform future change for donor engagement and retention and, ideally, create a lasting impact on CARE as they work to end poverty throughout the world. And, it all started with data. Now, we’re excited to see the impact that the ideas create!