Whether we realise it or not, we’re bombarded with an onslaught of visual information every single day. From print advertisements and television commercials to stop signs and green lights, the world around us relays a constant stream of data—often accompanied by some kind of visual representation to help us absorb it quickly. So how do companies and organisations communicate with their employees, clients, and stakeholders in the age of instant data gratification? The answer is simple: data storytelling.
Spreadsheets and static reports show data, but narrative data visualisation tells a story. The difference between the two is subtle but important. Data storytelling provides the context your audience needs to see the connections between important trends. It draws users in and helps them turn raw data into usable information. Simply showing people numbers can’t accomplish this.
Just like the data that surrounds us every day, data storytelling appeals to and is accessible to a wide audience, including those who aren’t as data-savvy as the people behind the reports. The best part is anyone can use data storytelling to better their organisation; all you need are the right tools and a roadmap to start driving in the right direction.
Why is Data Storytelling The Future?
Source: What is Data Storytelling?
Data storytelling merges three key fields of expertise: Data Science, Data Visualisation, and Narrative
1) Data Science
This field of expertise is the interdisciplinary field of sciences, which extracts knowledge and insight from data, making it readily available. This exciting field has made significant changes to our daily lives in the past couple of decades. However, data scientists are not naturally skilled in storytelling. They are unable to relay a true understanding of the opportunities hidden in the data delivered.
The emergence of technology solutions such as dashboards became a natural solution in aiding us to understand our data. Transforming data into graphs, pie, and line charts meant we could see our data like never before, however, data visualisation have limitations. Although they provide at-a-glance snapshots of data, they lack the context needed to explain why something has happened.
The third and, somewhat, most vital part of a data story is the narrative. The narrative uses language in a format that suits our particular needs, augmenting our full comprehension of new information. A narrative is a key vehicle to convey insights, with visualisations and data being important proof points.
How Companies Can Use Data Storytelling?
Taking your reports to the storytelling level isn’t an overnight project; it takes careful planning and strategy. By using data effectively, you can say “goodbye” to raw statistics and “hello” to clear, practical, and actionable reporting. After all, old-fashioned reports grow stale in the time it takes to print them out. Live data through a dashboard, on the other hand, can keep your employees, team, and company continuously aware of their progress and in touch with trends that might influence their given roles and responsibilities.
Every company can benefit from data storytelling. That might sound like a broad statement, but the practical application of data visualisation is endlessly customisable and the principles behind it are universal. In short, data storytelling is the difference between “I’ll have it on your desk in the morning” and “I have everything you need right here, right now.” Not only does it provide instant access to crucial metrics and progress, but it makes this information easy to understand, simple, and practical.
At the end of the day, data storytelling means faster and more informed decisions so users can spend less time sorting spreadsheets and invest more time raising the bottom line. To get started on creating your data stories, you can utilise a range of free data visualisation tools including Tableau and Microsoft Power BI.