Living in the future right now

David Lawson from TrueGivers is presenting "The Realities of Real Time Data." David says "the future really is here," but your institution may have put up roadblocks to "hide from the future." One of my favorite expressions is "I love living in the future."

Smart phones and tablets are the driving force behind 24-hour data. We have to figure out how to deliver the right data to the right people at the right time. 

In the past, we only allowed certain people in our systems. Now we are looking at a 360 degree view -- but not just 360 degrees in our silo, but 360 degrees in our organization. We want to know everything about our constituents.

The first issue with real-time data is accuracy. Real time means we can't vet everything. 

The next issue is completeness.  This brings up issues with consistency. David is displaying a Cartesian coordinate of accuracy and consistency.

The next issue is relevance. The data must be meaningful to the data consumers. What's relevant for one person is not relevant for the next. Most shops start with meeting the president's needs, and then work their way down from there.

Finally, there is timeliness. We want data that is both accurate and on time. U.S. intelligence agencies knew that 9/11 was going to happen, but they simply could not put the pieces together in time. We don't deal with life of death issues in our shops, but our ability to be timely could mean the life or death of our campaign.

Balancing all of the above.

Security is another factor. The biggest threat to security is the device, not the hacker. Specifically, the loss of the device is the threat.  We must be able to encrypt down to the weakest link, including thumb drives.  

In terms of cloud computing, universities and other non-profits will never spend as much on security as the companies who are hosting your data.

Hosting data onsite at a university is like "having a 7-11 in the middle of a prison. It's going to get knocked over."

Data cleansing is key. We must figure out how do do this in an automated fashion, e.g. real-time address verification. But we can't refuse to put things in our system until they are perfect.

David's real time checklist:
Source location
Source quality
Source security
Source update frequency
Source connection -- how are you accessing it?
Internal locations -- where is the data going?
Internal quality checks
Internal security
Internal update frequency -- if the end user has another way to the source, and it's updated more frequently than your system, they will know.
End user access points -- can your users access your data via mobile device?
End user permission levels -- what data can people view?

David was just asked what to do when a development officer finds the one mistake out of thousands. David says, "Whoever complains the most about the data raises the least amount of money."

The report queue must end. We must focus on self-service. This is not a job security issue -- there is still plenty to do!

Dashboards should be interactive -- you should be able to click on the data to drill down. Lead with pictures. Sixty percent of people are visual learners, so use data visualization.

Use constituent opt-ins -- survey results, submitting address updates, advocating for the institution -- as a piece of your affinity scoring.

Social networking users has surpassed email users. Executives who resist this trend and 24-hour data "hope the future doesn't happen until they retire." Twenty-two percent of Internet time is spent socially.

Fundraising is getting back to where it started -- it was all based on socializing. Then along came direct mail: we "threw it over the wall" and hoped our donors would throw money back.

In 2010, thirty percent of devices used to access business data were personal devices. In 2011, this number rose to forty percent.

More than 80 percent of IT organizations agree that tablets and other consumer devices will be an integral part of how we do our work. They also agree that this will increase the workload of IT staff, that senior executives will expect these devices to be supported, and that this trend will increase morale and productivity.

This behavior will be driven by our donors -- they expect this kind of connectivity in their office, and they will expect it from us. They've been cutting us some slack because we're nonprofits, but this slack is ending.

Look at yammer -- the corporate Facebook. Jive is a similar workspace application. People are starting to "follow" data, and are accessing data in a feed format. Just because social networking has been used for inane purposes doesn't mean we should overlook the utility. When everyone started illegally downloading music, it should have been a major clue that there was a market for accessing music online. David says: "Legalize social networking."

Analytics -- own your scores and rankings. It can't be a mystery any more. We have to understand how it works so we can explain it to our end users.

Web analytics are crucial. Being able to track activity on your website is increasingly important and possible. Facebook now has analytics available.

We have to stop thinking our users are dumb. Talk with them about the process and the problems. They might have great ideas. We have a new generation of development officers who are technology natives.

Who do you want to be? A traffic cop, or Steve Jobs? You can be innovative and a control freak at the same time. Let the data be free, and be a control freak behind the scenes by using your business rules.