The difference between a successful business and a less successful one is its ability to harness the information that it has at its fingertips. If you asked every successful business owner the secret to their success, the answer would be being in the right place at the right time, like buying materials when they are cheap, selling products at a prime location, or being able to hire the best people for the company.
However, it is not magic that makes a business successful, but rather the information it can gather, analyze, and exploit. Nowadays, information can come from anywhere. It is becoming increasingly more important and is a strategic advantage in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace.
Information comes from data, and before any useful information can be had from the data, it has to be analyzed, visualized, and then presented to supervisors, managers, directors, and other employees so that they can make strategic decisions that are data driven. In this sense, data storytelling is an immense skill that needs to be learned by everyone in the company. Being able to tell the story of the business and where it is heading is the crux of data storytelling.
What is Data Storytelling?
Data storytelling is another way of doing data analytics, simply put, you are telling a story based on your gathered data from your own business operations. In this highly specialized economy, one guaranteed way to be able to gain a competitive advantage is to know how to make sense of data.
Not many companies and organizations realize that in the course of doing business, they have amassed a amount number of data. Unfortunately, much of it is never put to good use. Being able to track, for example, the number of orders in a given day or week will already provide invaluable information, such as what items are being ordered more than the others, who are ordering them, in what quantities, how quickly, and how profitably.
All of these can help formulate better marketing strategies, and aid in management decisions and plans for growing the business. Data storytelling integrates visualization and presentation of data. We can have all the data that we need, but it is only as good as the data storyteller is. If the data is underutilized or is not presented in the most engaging way, then its usefulness will not be realized, which is such a waste of something so valuable.
To be able to tell a story, one must also know what to do with the data, how to analyze it, how to visualize it, and most importantly how to present it to or share it with other people so they too can appreciate its importance. Data storytelling is a skill and one that can be learned and put to good use.
Each company or organization should be able to develop this skill in their employees, and not just for middle managers or those in the research department. Every department in the company has its own data and everyone should be able to harness that data into a highly impactful story.
What are the Components of Data Storytelling?
Gathering, categorizing, and analyzing data
Before you can tell a story using existing data, it first has to be gathered or collated, categorized, and then analyzed. Data can come from many sources and from practices inherent in business operations. For example, the data on employee attendance, tardiness, and absences could be an excellent means of finding out how engaged the company’s workforce is, and whether you have problems in this area.
The weekly sales report from the cashier will tell you whether you are making profit, and at what time of day sales pick up and when they are at their lowest. However, it takes a certain knowledge and understanding of data and statistics to be able to identify which data can provide the information that you need.
The second part of data storytelling is the visualization of the data. It is a sad reality that if you present data in tables or in paragraph form, no one will take the time to read it. Visual aids such as charts and graphs are the best way to present data.
Instead of saying seventy percent of customers bought a specific item this week, show this in a pie graph and your audience will probably be more engaged.
Although basic software programs can create charts and graphs, they are usually very limited and not that pleasing to the eye. An important aspect of visualization is customizing the illustrations to make sense of the data. Most software programs have chart builders and a default design which every person can use. In most cases, however, these designs are not that great.
Effective presentation skills
The third key aspect of data storytelling is to be able to actually present the data to an audience consisting of top management and other employees.
It is not uncommon for employees to refuse to present to a large group because thay lack confidence, are afraid of being criticized, or don’t know how to communicate with a large group and present data that has been translated into graphs and charts.
How to Do Data Storytelling
Unfortunately, most employees across the world are not that good at data storytelling. It is therefore crucial that they be trained in this important skill. Fortunately, such training is now available. You can hire firms to conduct the training for you so that in just a matter of days, your employees will be effective data storytellers.
You should hire a firm that has proven experience in conducting data storytelling training courses and workshops, one that advocates for better data usage and provides opportunities for their clients to practice and apply their skills using real data. Check forums where former clients make comments and provide feedback on training organizations.
When everyone in the company is confident about handling data and able to visualize and present it to a larger audience, you will be that much closer to having a thriving and expanding business.
In this data driven economy, the most precious asset a company can have is its workforce. Data storytelling training is an investment in your human capital that definitely pays off. All the world’s most successful businesses invest extensively in training their employees. A well-trained workforce also enjoys better job satisfaction, employee morale, and motivation.
Interesting related article: “What is Training?“