Times have changed and are ever-changing. One can illustrate the truth of this in many aspects of our lives and in different industries today. Among others, market research is one of those industries worth mentioning that has dramatically changed.
Listening to our grandparents’ and parents’ stories of when they needed to go to libraries for homework or when companies needed to hire human computers for data collection and analysis makes us feel how much has really changed in our way of doing things. It is indeed difficult to think of a time wherein information was not at the tip of our fingertips, and one did not have the option to “Google it.” Today, data is everywhere. And if it were an exam, gathering data would be one of those “open book” ones, where anyone had access to the answers. The market research game has changed. And today, it is not just about getting data–it is about how it is analyzed, interpreted, and used to make informed and strategic decisions. Data Entrepreneur Dionna McPhatter is at the forefront of revolutionizing this industry.
Hailing from Pickerington, Ohio, Dionna graduated in the top 15% of her class at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She is one of less than 2000 black female graduates in all of history. After her time in West Point, she was offered a job in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) but turned it down and began her corporate career working at several leading consumer packaged goods companies. Over the years, she has worked for Procter & Gamble and for Reckitt Benckiser, championing brands such as Durex, Lysol, Mucinex, and French’s. In 2014, while living in Amsterdam, she did some soul searching and realized there was much more for her and co-founded BLKBOX, a modern and tech-driven marketing agency, built as a response to the founders’ desire to establish their dream agency. “After a decade in the business, we’d worked for countless brands, and we were frustrated that the ideas other agencies were bringing to us were no longer relevant. We wanted to build the kind of agency we wanted to hire, but didn’t exist,” Dionna shared in an interview with Career Contessa.
Dionna became a lecturer at Cornell Tech in 2018, where she continues to teach all about entrepreneurship from identifying the right problem to solve to attracting the best team. Today, she is the CEO and co-founder of Nacci, another tech-driven company that sees itself as a #dataforgood ecosystem—using patented data storytelling to help companies operationalize a people-over-profits orientation, allowing them to deliver transformational and exponentially generative growth to the world. The data entrepreneur elaborates: “We have a unique approach that inspires people with data instead of making them feel like they are being monitored and measured. We end up expanding possibilities with data instead of limiting them. We do this with our patented data storytelling approach that uses composite metrics and innovative visualization to help people focus on the right data at the right time to solve their problems. Most people in the world of data are building for engineers, statisticians, and technologists, but we democratize data for everyone with the knowledge that stories are 22 times more persuasive than charts and stats alone.”
It is Dionna’s life mission to use data for good—making it an instrument to spark world change. She has an equal love for art, algorithms, and every person’s reason to believe that a new reality is not only possible but probable if we align our talents, choices, and times with the world we want to live in.