Something we always find as an interesting and thought-provoking read is the annual Tableau BI Trends Report. One of the highlights within the 2018 edition was that data storytelling will be the new language of corporations.
We couldn’t agree more!
Increasingly, organisations are turning to their data to measure, track, report and ultimately drive growth by having a solid understanding of their market and their customers. But, for real data-driven change to occur, more people need to have access and understand so they are empowered to participate in discussions around data. And this is exactly where data stories can shine.
Communicating with stories is a powerful and frequently utilized way for us humans to interact. We’ve been honing the skill for centuries! Today, data stories are an effective way to communicate the insights found within the data that has become an increasing part of our daily lives. With data stories everyone, whether they be business decision makers, investors, consumers or the general public, can easily understand and become participants in discussions about what the data can tell us.
Yet, ‘data story’ remains a term that many struggle to pinpoint exactly what it means and how it fits into our data-rich world. Despite being part of conversation for some years now, there is still no clear definition. So with that in mind, we want to share three characteristics that align with Datylon’s interpretation of what data storytelling is:
Exploring the data can tell an analyst a great deal. Investigation is often triggered by a question or hypothesis, with the goal to validate or dispel the theory. So, in the data exploration phase insights are mined.
In the next (and often overlooked) phase, the data explanation phase, we package the insights in a way that the data can be discussed and it’s in this phase that the true value of the data is unlocked. With data stories, necessary context is added to the insights, ensuring more people can understand and participate in the discussions around data.
By communicating what is found in the data, or in other words, telling the story of the data, the reader is guided towards a deeper understanding of not just what is happening, but why it is important. When the reader fully understands the all-important why, they know how to take action.
It is often assumed that a data story is just another term for data visualization, dashboards or reporting. Yes, data visualizations do a fantastic job at distilling complex information down to reveal something that would normally not be seen – where patterns and outliers are no longer hidden in a sea of rows and columns - but the problem with leaving communication there is that separate people can potentially draw different conclusions from the same chart or graph.
By layering in a narrative and annotations that explain the data insights, and offering more context, the magic of the data story appears, where two very distinct worlds of hard data and human emotion start to merge. Figures in a spreadsheet are hard to tell a story with, but when those figures are visualized and explained, they can create real impact.
Decisions are often based on human instinct and emotion, rather than solely on logic. Therefore, when data is packaged into a story, it allows the facts and logic to be carried across to the influential (emotional) side of the brain where action is motivated and change occurs with informed decision making. Messages can be more easily recalled and conveyed based on the audience’s needs and expectations.
One of the problems faced when working with data is that, since its proliferation, data has often been safely kept in the hands, heads and spreadsheets of the analytical, the scientific and those qualified to handle its complexity. Despite these data experts being extremely talented in extracting information, presenting the findings for wider engagement has not always been a priority.
By producing a data story, you take insights off the desks of just the data analytics department and publish them. Doing so unlocks the real value that exists within the data. This step needs to exist in order for an organization to be truly data-driven.
And it is within this “final mile” of the data supply chain that Datylon offers solutions, providing a tool that facilitates the creation and sharing of data stories via the Datylon Insights platform. With Datylon Insights, data stories become as accessible as they need to be within organizations and teams. Reports or data stories can easily be organized and even set as templates so they can be edited and updated with the latest data, allowing for truly valuable conversations and informed decisions to take place.
We believe that with providing context alongside clear and compelling data visuals, or in other words creating a data story, that even seemingly complex matters can be transformed into something understandable for all.
If our interpretation of data stories conveying information in an actionable way sounds interesting to you, then we would love to connect! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss more on how Datylon can help you, and your data, bring about change.