Recently I interviewed technology guru, Dave Tinker, CFRE, FAFP Vice President of Advancement at Achieva and Adjunct Professor of Informatics at Muskingum University New Concord, Ohio.
Technology, while we all use it daily, still sometimes misses the mark at what tools help us do our jobs efficiently. That’s where informatics – the strategic use of data and technology in business – comes into play.
These tools aren’t just for big corporations. “Informatics applies to any business.” Tinker said. “There are big industries using it like healthcare, banks, insurance companies, but even nonprofits are utilizing it.”
“[Informatics] is a matter of utilizing tech tools and output from tech tools in strategic application towards use in business,” Tinker added. “More people are trying to become more efficient with interpreting data. Organizations are trying to identify current information or information you could get using those tools.”
What are these tools?
If data digitalization is your goal, then you might consider software like Tableau (owned by Salesforce). “Tableau runs data through a report, pulling only the most important information, sharing it in a visually pleasing way, i.e. infographics,” said Tinker. “It is more appealing than using a spreadsheet and easier to read by all employees.”
Tableau helps track sales, business, and customers.
If Tableau isn’t feasible for your organization, there are (less expensive) options. “On a more basic level, Microsoft has built in tools for Excel you can utilize for better charts,” Tinker said. “Google Suite (G-Suite) also have tools for that.”
Sisense enables you to streamline your business, building a dashboard with all your information. “You can create a dashboard you would log into every day,” said Tinker. “Combining the point of sale system with social media feeds and website information. This helps a business track their online activity and its effect on revenue.”
Other tools for team and program management include Microsoft’s Project Management, Slack, and Freedcamp (free for nonprofits). “These project management tools help a lot with teamwork, especially if you’re dispersed geographically; they help communication with internal teams.”
The benefit of using tools (like Tableau) is to see data quickly and in different formats. “Here at ACHIEVA, our CEO is big on charts, not spreadsheets; we focus on a visual presentation,” Tinker said. “This is easier for board members (and staff) to interpret.”
“It helps to make a more strategic decision because you see the key data on one page,” Tinker added.
Tinker considers himself an accidental techy. He has undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and English, and a master’s degree in public Affairs and Nonprofit Management from the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy (now known as the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University). “I have always been involved in tech in the nonprofits where I worked,” said Tinker. “It was about 12 years ago when I decided to go back to school for tech.”
Tinker uses technology at ACHIEVA to analyze data for more efficient fundraising. “There is a lot more going on with technology in regard to fundraising,” said Tinker. “They are starting to use artificial intelligence now. I am focused on using these tools, not to (necessarily) replace other methods, but make fundraising easier and more efficient.”
ACHIEVA supports and empowers individuals with disabilities and their families. They envision a community where disability is a distinction that makes no difference.
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