Presented By O’Reilly and Cloudera
Make Data Work
September 11, 2018: Training & Tutorials
September 12–13, 2018: Keynotes & Sessions
New York, NY

How to be aggressively tone-deaf using data; or, We should all be "for-benefits."

Ann Nguyen (Whole Whale)
2:00pm–2:30pm Tuesday, 09/11/2018
Data-driven business management
Location: 1E 10 Level: Non-technical
Secondary topics:  Ethics and Privacy

Google turns up roughly 97,900,000 results for “data-driven business.” But with so much talk of leveraging data for impact, what is the intention behind that impact? For for-profits, this is often the last thought. For nonprofits, it’s the first. Innovation is the key to survival in the current business landscape and data, combined with design thinking and iteration is the trusted path. The problem is that this system lacks a conscious—it lacks empathy thinking. This is how we end up with algorithms that reinforce policing bias, potentially reject or target minorities for financial services, or just plain ignore them on facial scanners.

In the for-profit economy, we have, in Tim O’Reilly’s words, gone from “the WTF of amazement to the WTF of dismay.” Data is leveraged to increase corporate profits, which counters the use of technology’s superpowers against the kryptonite of inequality. You may be crushing it, using your data to inform decisions and drive numbers up and to the right, but if those numbers are representative of uninsured citizens or an increased police bias, are you really succeeding?

So what if we flip the script and examine the nonprofit line of thinking as a mode of success, even for for-profits? By approaching a data-driven business as a means of leveraging nonmonetary impact and optimizing data strategy around nonmonetary benefits, can we in turn design better markets while still reaching bottom lines?

Ann Nguyen takes a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of data culture, explores successes in the nonprofit sector, and shows how all companies can adapt a “for-benefit” mindset, merging their data culture with an empathy economy and using data to create and share value among their core audiences.

Photo of Ann Nguyen

Ann Nguyen

Whole Whale

Ann Nguyen evangelizes design for impact at Whole Whale, where she leads the tech and design team in building meaningful digital products for nonprofits. She has designed and managed the execution of multiple websites for organizations including the LAMP, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, and Breakthrough. Ann is always challenging designs with A/B testing. She bets $1 on every experiment that she runs and to date has accumulated a decent sum. Previously, Ann worked with a wide range of organizations from the Ford Foundation to Bitly. She is Google Analytics and Optimizely Platform certified. Ann is a regular speaker on nonprofit design and strategy and recently presented at the DMA Nonprofit Conference. She has also taught at Sarah Lawrence College. Outside of work, Ann enjoys multisensory art, comedy shows, fitness, and making cocktails, ideally all together.