How data-driven storytelling helps businesses make rational decisions

Faith Ocampo Published on May 23, 2017

office employee focusing on storytelling on laptop with doodles appearing behind him

Every organization that gathers and analyzes data has a story to tell, so why aren’t they out there telling their stories?

Most companies know that they need technical expertise to build a data-driven organization. They must have people who are good at numbers and research, and they need experts who can make sense of big data. Of course, they also need sophisticated data analytics tools to run their analyses.
But few companies are aware that the way they interpret and present data can affect their decision making. In fact, how you package information serves as the bridge between your data and the people who need to understand them. We’re talking about your company’s key leaders—executives, product specialists, marketers, and customer service experts.
This is where data-driven storytelling comes in. If your organization’s decision makers don’t know the story behind your data, they’ll struggle to form ideas that are founded on empirical evidence.

Stories place numbers within a context.

coworkers looking though big data analytics for storytelling options

Data, when not presented within the context which they’re part of, are merely isolated pieces of information that don’t mean anything. After all, every bit of data is a part of a whole. They’re connected to other ideas and are part of a bigger picture. Thus, you can’t interpret them in a vacuum, even if you try. Otherwise, you risk losing sight of their true importance and meaning.
So if your company works with big data, you need to love stories as well. That means you must look beyond your organization’s need for technical expertise and start embracing the fact that you also need big-picture thinkers. Of course, a certain obsession with getting your data analysis perfect is crucial, as this would be where you’ll draw your conclusions from. But the processes around data analytics don’t end there. If you want to fully utilize the power of data, you need people who can apply data-based insights into practical, concrete, and actionable strategies that work in the real world.

Data presentation matters.

In that sense, presenting data in a form that’s easily understandable is necessary. There are many ways to do this, the most common of which are:

•     Data journalism.

magnifying lens on top of tablet showing big data statistics

As a form of data curation, data journalism involves selecting the most important data from various sources then integrating them to present salient insights or come up with new ideas. Finding the right information and reporting them in an engaging way helps audiences grasp them more easily. In a business’ decision making process, this means leaders won’t have to go through the laborious and time-consuming process of sorting out irrelevant and relevant pieces of information.

•     Data visualization.

Numbers can be confusing, so it helps to render them into a visual format. Bar and pie charts, tables, and graphs can be used to present data. Some researchers and data workers can also produce interactive visuals to aid audiences in making sense of big data.

Meaningful stories are powerful.

Storytelling is a powerful way to tap into people’s emotional and logical sides. As such, great stories—especially those that are based on facts—create a massive impact. They’re not just informative, they’re also memorable, easy to understand, and inspiring.
Thus, when it comes to decision making, data-driven stories can provide leaders a more accurate and holistic view of what’s happening in the organization, its performance, and its customers. That lets them come up with effective strategies—whether to enhance marketing, customer service, and even employee engagement and organizational culture.
 
 

Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.
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