It’s an interesting time in business intelligence where organizations have access to abundant amounts of data, yet we struggle to make meaningful use out of it. With all of this information at our fingertips, why are we data-rich, but action-poor? Like the reason for most misconception, it comes down to how effectively we communicate. Data storytelling leads to better business decision-making by telling compelling stories about our data.
People have used stories to distill information and gain understanding for thousands of years. Stories tap into uniquely human traits and are fundamental to how we share knowledge. When we hear a story, we relate it to our own experiences and emotions that will stick in our minds longer than a handful of data points. And when we connect with a story, we formulate a clearer understanding of what to do with the information that’s being presented to us.
In most data-driven cultures, we rely on analysts to translate data, deliver insights, and then package their findings in dashboards, reports, and presentations for managers and leaders to act on. We believe the facts speak for themselves, but in reality, they don’t always explain what’s really going on.
For example, imagine a regional sales dashboard that shows your Midwest sales declining. You might be able to drill down into where, by how much, with who or what product lines, but why? Could it be an underperforming sales rep? Weak market? Bad customer service?—Are you sure you have the right information to make the right decision? This is where crafting an impactful story around data is a powerful mechanism to help drive change.
Data storytelling is nothing new, for years organizations have been creating tools to make data more accessible through graphs, visualizations, and dashboards. But to truly get a great story—one that moves the audience to do something—context is required to understand and emotion to inspire action. Data alone is not influential and even a summary of the most impactful insights will fall flat without a significant narrative to help explain what’s causing the effect and why.
context is required to understand and emotion to inspire action
Good data storytelling uses simple language and low complexity. Today we can use Natural Language Generation (NLG) to not only tell concise stories, but we can automate them too. With Wordsmith, we can even tailor them to specific audiences.
As we live in the era of self-service analytics, the need for storytelling beyond analysts is expanding. In the example of declining sales in the Midwest, the regional sales rep will tell a story with local context to support their action plan while a sales manager will tell a global story to guide executives. Wordsmith is the only NLG tool that uses role-based analytics to contextualize data pertinent to individual roles and functions. Let us show you how Wordsmith can help you tell your data’s story.