We read often about how companies are using “Big Data”. Every time you go to a website and search for an item to buy, that same item seems to appear on other website you visit as an advertisement. Every month, I seem to receive a booklet of coupons from Giant Eagle and guess what, it’s for items I tend to buy or consider buying. This all comes from the use of data and algorithms.
Data are a powerful tool when used appropriately and intelligently. They can show you trends you would not normally see. They can help you set goals. They can help you determine the effectiveness of a strategy.
Our Federation and our agencies launched the Community Scorecard as a way for all of us, all agencies and synagogues, to measure how we are doing on a macro level as a community. It is our first effort to collect data from across the entire Jewish community. (You can visit the scorecard data at www.jewishscorecard.org ).
On Monday evening, we brought Brian Hayden, a principal with the firm Collaborative Strategies, to town. Brian is our new consultant on our Community Scorecard and has worked extensively with both Hillel International and the Jewish Community Center Association in the past. His visit this week was to provide every Jewish institution with some tools to consider in collecting and using data. With about 70 people in attendance and with a great representation from our communal institutions, Brian showed us how each of us can start, even in very small ways, to adopt the use of data as a planning and management tool.
We are just a few weeks from our Passover Seder where we will recount 10 plagues, drink 4 cups of wine, tell the story of 4 sons and start the story of our people’s 40 years in the desert. As you can see, data have always been a part of preserving our Jewish tradition.