Last week I presented a keynote at the Australian Association for Environmental Education annual conference. The conference theme was “future making”. As a mega science fiction nerd, this got me excited and thinking about the future trends and innovations that are going to affect us as evaluators. In the short term I can see that other fields are going disrupt the space of evaluators in positive and interesting ways.

Human-centred Design

Human-centred Design is changing the way services are designed, putting the service user at the heart of the design. Should the service user then also be at the heart of the evaluation? Going forward, I can see a swing back to using more feedback from beneficiaries in our evaluations and perhaps less emphasis on expert view.

Social Value

The other field with disrupting qualities is the work being undertaken around capturing social impact. Organisations such as Social Ventures Australia and the Social Impact Measurement Network Australia are outside of the usual evaluation mob looking at social impact. The American Evaluation Association is running an Impact Convergence Conference this week that brings the Social Value and Evaluation fields together. Maybe we need to do the same in Australia?

Big Data

Looking a little further ahead, I have to mention Big Data. The possibilities are mind boggling. One example is using digital signals that are instantly available to tell us people’s attitudes and behaviours. Big data analytics have been used in the humanitarian field for a while, and have proved quite good predictors of pandemics: check out this slideshow from UN Global Pulse. When all this instant data is available to decision makers, will they still need evaluators?

Dr. Jess Dart

What fields do you think evaluators should be watching closely? To join the conversation please tweet your thoughts and tag us (@ClearHorizonAU).