C Now - DataReview
NOTE: A complimentary electronic copy was provided for review. My opinions are my own.

Currently, many communities are discussing the impact of “Big Data” – a catchphrase making its way through Chicago-area business and non-profit culture. Learning how to manage and leverage data can have an impact on various non-profit/social venture marketing and fundraising efforts. Knowing how to manage, monitor, and act on data can provide an organization a critical edge in overall social impact. Thankfully, Koen Pauwels’ It’s Not the Size of the Data – It’s How You Use It from AMACOM books – available in hardcover and Kindle – provides a fine introductory read into data management and monitoring.

For many, the initial business tone may be offputting, with Pauwels’ focus on terms like dashboards and KPIs….but this is a book focused on general businesses. However, for non-profits and other social change agents, Pauwels’ provides an extremely thorough explanation into how – and why – to assemble such dashboards. Not The Size of the Data provides a thorough primer into how to take a variety of organizational processes and manage them in a systematic manner. Even if the terminology may be challenging for some organizations, thankfully Pauwels provides a thorough background in how marketing dashboards can assist in driving specific outcomes.

But Chapter Eight, focusing on social media, provides a very thorough understanding in the importance of understanding tracking key data. Pauwels’ provides one of the strongest arguments for looking beyond the superficial. As past blog posts have discussed, Pauwels postulates that volume is not the sole arbiter of success, but that data coming from conversational dynamics is also important for non-profits and social ventures. For Pauwels, organizations that examine how conversations are distributed – as well as the overall sentiment – provide key actionable insights for marketing and fundraising. Despite some reluctance to adopt a data-driven perspective, Pauwels provides strong justification for adopting both a qualitiative and quantitative approach – and approach that can mean the difference between anecdotal success and solid evidence towards a successful strategy.

Even if the organization is small, It’s Not the Size of the Data provides a wealth of information about managing and leveraging data. With an increasing emphasis on outcome-driven efforts, social change agents need strong, valid information to help them navigate data collection and interpretation. With improved efforts to open and utilize city data, improving digital literacy around data becomes even more critical to driving social change. Although focused primarily on business marketing, Koen Pauwels’ It’s Not the Size of the Data – It’s How You Use It provides some great “first steps” towards understanding how non-profits and social ventures can better manage, monitor, and utilize data in their day-to-day operations.

Essential, and a must-read.

How does your organization use data? Are you seeing challenges in adopting a data-driven approach? Please feel free to leave comments below. In addition, you are always welcome to visit and join us on Facebook (it’s small, but we’re looking to grow), and my contact information can be found on this blog’s About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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