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You have watched data storytelling this week and you don’t even know it

Did you watch the weather report last night? And did you remember to pack an umbrella because the weatherman told you it will rain in the afternoon? Or was there a sweltering 36°C sign next to your hometown – in that case don’t forget to wear sunscreen, always wear sunscreen. Whatever the forecast though, you’ve just watched one of the most basic and effective forms of data storytelling.

Imagine for a second that all that weather information was presented in a plain table. The temperature, the chance of rain, the wind speed; all that data comprised into something looking like this:

Doesn’t look too appealing, does it? And where to look in the first place? What is the story behind all this data? What will the weather be like tomorrow morning and which actions should you take subsequently? And what should you wear on Wednesday evening?

Now think back to that weather report you watched last night. All information (data) presented on a clear map (visual), accompanied by the weatherman (narrative) who told you when it might rain or maybe advising you to hurry home early because there will be a snowstorm in the late afternoon.

Combining data with visuals and narrative in order to drive change or lead to action - you grabbed your umbrella, didn’t you? - that is data storytelling in a nutshell.

Sounds fun, but what’s in it for me?

As the worldwide amount of data increases, everyone who works in this field can benefit from data storytelling. Here are some numbers:

  • The world’s collective data could grow from 33 zettabytes in 2018 to 175 zettabytes by 2025 (that’s a lot of data)1
  • Global revenues for big data and business analytics could reach over 189 billion dollars in 2019, and as much as 274 billion dollars by 2022 (that’s a lot of money)2
  • 90% of decision-makers still prioritise gut feeling over data (that’s a lot of bad decisions)3

Considering these facts, a key question becomes what we actually do with that enormous amount of data. We can build the most fantastic dashboards, but all that data goes to waste if we don’t act upon what the numbers are telling us. In other words: data insights are only valuable if they actually lead to the right decisions being taken.

That’s where data storytelling comes in. People have a hard time understanding or even trusting data. Remember the 90% of decision-makers who prioritise their gut feeling? At the same time, people love, understand and remember stories. I’m sure you never again stepped into a stranger’s home after reading Hansel and Gretel when you were younger.

By turning insights from data into a compelling story, that story can help decision-makers interpret the information in the correct way, driving positive change and helping their companies to become truly data-driven.

Data stories lead to action

Let’s look at an example. Imagine ten managers sitting in a room all being presented the exact same sheet of data. Diagrams, tables, charts; the lot. Now, all this data doesn’t tell a story by itself, it’s just numbers. In addition, some managers might be more skilled in interpreting data, while each manager has different priorities.

As a result, some managers don’t understand the data, some managers interpret the data in a way that it accommodates their own needs and all managers might have a different idea of what action to take next. The outcome is the exact opposite, as their conflicting interpretations lead to inaction or gut feeling decisions.

Now imagine the ten managers being presented a data story. The numbers have been crunched by a team of analysts who have identified problems, challenges or opportunities. These problems, challenges or opportunities have been shaped into a compelling visual story, one that is easily understandable for everyone and that encourages critical thinking and discussions. The team will still be making the decisions, but they are now taking truly data-driven decisions.

Let’s illustrate this via a tongue-in-cheek example. As our annual skiing trip is coming up, the organising committee is determined to get as many people on board (get it?) as possible. Data from a survey shows that most people who have already signed up are more experienced skiers, leaving the organisers to wonder why beginners are hesitant to join. Could it be that the less experienced skiers are worried to find themselves all alone on the beginners’ slope, while their colleagues are living it up way on top of the mountain? Well, worry no more:

We have skiers of all levels - so you will always have a buddy.

Remember that all data stories are unique. What works for one company or business unit does not necessarily work for the other. In addition, data storytelling is not only used to drive decision-making from data insights. It can also be used for other purposes. How about creating a cool, tailored story for your clients showing all the rewards they have reaped by doing business with you? Or send them an e-mail containing an annual recap of how and how often they have used your services. That’s sure to drive up customer engagement.

What can VIQTOR DAVIS do for you?

At VIQTOR DAVIS we have set up a dedicated data storytelling team, including data and business analysts, designers and copywriters. Whether you want to use data stories to create better business insights and drive change within your organisation, or help your company improve customer engagement, just let our team do the hard work for you. Talk to us today about how we can help you by clicking here.

1. https://www.networkworld.com/article/3325397/idc-expect-175-zettabytes-of-data-worldwide-by-2025.html

2. https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS44998419

3. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/decision-maker

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