BT Better Future Forum: Collaborating on the Role of Data for Social Good

GlobeScan partnered with BT to hold the second Better Future Forum at the start of July. The online dialogue hosted 300 sustainability and technology experts, from 29 countries, and provided a hotbed of discussion and rich insights.
Our objective was to bring people from across the world together to determine the state of current thinking around “big data” and how this relates to sustainability and consumer behaviour change, with a view to moving the debate forward and crowdsourcing ideas for overcoming hurdles and creating solutions.
As has been the case with our other Forums, discussion was rife, and revealed challenges and disagreements as well as exciting examples and cautious optimism. Screenshots of the Forum and a recap video can viewed at the bottom of this post. A particularly pertinent comment came from Jasmine Whitbread, CEO at Save the Children International, when she appealed for partners to help them make better use of the data they collect on 100 million children in 120 countries: “If we did a better job of collecting and mining that data this could make the case for investment in children. If we could find a way of sharing this ethically it could help create even more value. Are there businesses and tech companies out there we could partner with to explore this?”
Post Forum, GlobeScan analysed the full conversation. Using our quantitative content analysis capability, we generated conversation maps (see left and below) to show relationships between key themes and concepts that came up in the discussion. In the first discussion we can see that people, companies and products were central to the debate. Trust and understanding emerged as crucial to creating consumer behaviour change. Transparency and choice, also key topics, are slightly detached and not perceived as core to changing behaviour – necessary but not sufficient. There are lessons here that data on its own will not lead to sustainable behaviour – we need to translate and interpret the data in a relevant way.
The second conversation map illustrates the focus of the discussion on data for social good. The importance of collaboration is apparent and there is a role for technology in producing benefits particularly around health and energy. Privacy emerges as the most significant challenge to be tackled by both government and companies.
The second Better Future Forum showcases a best practice approach to stakeholder engagement. The Better Future team now need to ensure that their colleagues learn from the dialogue, take the insights and apply these to the business. The first steps towards doing this have already been a success: numerous BT employees from across the business were involved in the Forum on the day and the team have published a full report on the Forum.
On September 9, 2014, GlobeScan is working with HP on another collaboration forum, the Living Progress Exchange, which will broadly focus on best practice and developments of Human, Economic, and Environmental Progress. Click here for more information and to register your place.

Forum Screenshots and Recap Video