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The Driving Forces of Innovation
By Maz Dunic, Head of Analytics, Save the Children Australia
Data and Analytics are the driving force behind innovation in every sector, across every business. If you are involved in any professional industry, you can’t get away from the hype and from the buzzwords. First it was the “IoT” and “Cloud” revolution that caught everyone’s attention, and once we discovered what could be captured, “BIG DATA” immediately began being flaunted by every vendor known to man.
We then moved on to the mythical “Unicorn Data Scientist” being added on every grad student’s Linkedin profile – getting salaries some of us could only dream of. And now we are being pummeled with the latest buzz AI. And let’s not even mention cryptocurrencies, the Voldamort of innovation.
You don’t need to be working in the mini-world that is Silicon Valley to know that the game has changed. The world has shrunk, and everyone has access to everything. Information is at the fingertips and knowledge is ingested in seconds. The world is vastly different to what it was only a decade ago, heck, even a few weeks ago.
But, nevertheless, there are always sectors that struggle to keep up. In the Not for Profit world, the game is ROI.
The most exciting things are yet to come, with AI bots replacing the need for basic tasks
However, our income and ability to deliver support at every level is at the mercy of our donors, and the always decreasing government aid budgets. So, we strive for efficiency, for optimization, and for the best donor experience. In fundraising, the advancements in Data and Analytics technologies is a game changer. The aforementioned buzzwords are critical in how we campaign and how we interact and communicate with our donors.
Gone are the days of dreadlocked uni-students trying to change the world one tie dyed t-shirt at a time. It’s all about faster, better, more efficient. It’s about what cutting-edge Machine Learning deliver that would take an army of statisticians to decipher. It’s this technology that allows us to react faster, to enable 1 to 1 customized communication journeys with our supporters. Bringing the impact of their donated dollar to them, tailored to why they wanted to support us in the first place.
Our work is now supported by Survival Analysis algorithms giving insight into Donor Life Time Value. Random Forest and XGBM models giving us the probability of when each donor is likely to cancel their regular monthly gift. R & Python allow us to scrape data from Social Media to supplement our knowledge of a supporter, create complicated modelling and simulations, allowing us to plan, budget, and react faster and better than ever before. We visualize data on the fly, and the business is supported with near real-time dashboards and interactive reporting with PowerBI, giving users the power to slice and dice at their own pace, all at the click of a button. However the most exciting things are yet to come, with AI bots replacing the need for basic tasks, information gathering and even basic communication with supporters, the horizon is bountiful with possibilities. The technology, hardware and software that is now available to everyone has opened the door on innovation, on how we conduct business, and has given anyone the ability to develop, deploy and scale without needing mammoth budgets. The only limit now is how far do you dare to dream.
The future is now, and it is exciting, and I for one cannot wait to see what unfolds.