Data for good is a topic we wholeheartedly embrace here on The APEX of Innovation. We’ve covered how data analytics and new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are helping provide cleaner water, detect bias in data-driven initiatives, and fight climate disasters. But there’s always more. Below we take a look at a unique partnership that is changing lives in the U.S. state of Georgia, as well as some of the reasons why participating in data for good initiatives is good for business.

A recent McKinsey & Company blog post shared the amazing story of how the firm teamed up with The United Way of Atlanta to not only help children in the surrounding area but also improve the firm’s own internal efficiency and operations. That included more accurate measurements of return on investments and the true impact of its different programs.

One shining example is the work McKinsey did on the United Way’s Child Well-Being Index. According to the post, the index “takes into account how children, their families, and their communities are faring.” The index looks at factors such as low-weight births, family financial instability, and lack of health insurance. By changing the way the organization tracked progress, McKinsey was able to help the United Way extract more value from the index, which enabled them to take better actions. This improvement was especially visible in a range of areas, including better identifying places in the most need, and better steering resources to address them. 

Leveraging data from the index, McKinsey and the United Way also developed a heatmap by zip code to pinpoint the “most at-risk” areas. By identifying those places—and subsequently, those children that are the most vulnerable—the United Way was able to deliver more precise help and better outcomes for the community.

Great story!

If that isn’t enough to get your company more involved in data for good initiatives, there are even ways your business and people can benefit. Beyond the external contributions like helping those in need and contributing to a better society overall, participating in data for good initiatives is actually good for your company and your people. A recent Information Age article looked at three internally-facing benefits that data and artificial intelligence for good can provide, described below:

  1. Recruitment: Simply put, people prefer work that is “meaningful” and that contributes to something worthwhile. And they like the companies they work for to want the same. Data for good initiatives provide a great way to make this a reality. They enable companies to balance commercial projects with the need for data scientists and engineers to work on socially impactful projects that help the community.
  2. Innovation: Data for good projects provide a great platform for experimentation and testing new techniques, according to the article. With less business risk, data scientists are more open to new ideas and trying out new things. Not surprisingly, this work can easily lead to innovation on the business front, resulting in a win-win for company and community.
  3. Team Building: Don’t waste money on expensive team training. Rather, use data for good initiatives as a way to bring your people together. Data for good projects can enable your people to collaborate in new settings on a “non-work” endeavor that serves a united cause and brings them closer together.

For more stories and examples on data for good, check out this APEX of Innovation post titled, When We Empower People with Data They Do Amazing Things.