Emerging Opportunities: Monitoring and Evaluation in a Tech-Enabled World, a discussion paper written by Linda Raftree and Michael Bamberger under a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation to Itad, provides an overview of how the practice of monitoring and evaluation (M&E)—including that of the Foundation’s M&E practice—is learning how to better use information and communication technologies (ICTs) for more timely data, and more inclusive voice and feedback from beneficiaries and other stakeholders.
The increasing complexity of development, coupled with the widening range of public, nonprofit, and private sector actors and the demand for more timely feedback, has challenged the utility of conventional approaches to M&E in many development contexts. Though emerging ICTs offer promise, the methodological rigor of tech-enabled M&E has sometimes been questioned and viewed as unreliable in contemporary evaluation debates.
Despite this broad reluctance, M&E innovators are already experimenting in this new space. By reflecting on ways in which these innovators have begun to navigate new territory, and by exploring the great potential for technology to further transform and advance traditional evaluation methods, this paper aims to highlight the current state of tech-enabled M&E while also maintaining a critical perspective which recognizes the limitations and inherent risks which evaluators should remain mindful of when engaging in this new and exciting space.
In addition to providing financial support for the paper, The Rockefeller Foundation supported the M&E Tech Conference and Deep Dive in the fall of 2014 to gather M&E practitioners, technology developers, and leadership from a range of organizations and institutions to discuss opportunities, challenges, and a way forward in strengthening capacity in the area of tech-enabled M&E.