Dr.Venkatesh Raman
Dr.Venkatesh Raman 16 February 2022

Rise of the Enterprise Data Storytellers

Data is the most valuable asset of any organization today. Have you thought of the last 24 hours in a typical business day without working on data or a dashboard as a digital business professional?

Organizations today slice and dice data to derive data-driven business decisions. There is still a huge skill gap in communicating the data insights that are easy to comprehend to a different business audience. 

An interesting quote from Kinnari Ladha, CDO, IAG Loyalty:

“It’s not about sharing tons of charts or lots of numbers to show the work you’ve done. It’s actually showing what it means for them.” (Source: business of data).

In a nutshell, we need to bring life to our existing data in the organization. How does that happen? It happens through data storytelling by converting data into actionable insights with a better narrative.

Let us begin with a story to understand the importance of data storytelling in today’s digital marketplace.

“Shyam is an experienced technology and digital marketer with proven hands-on experience across different industry verticals. He wants to lead the digital strategy of the business in the future.

After a few months of job search, he has taken a new offer from a leading MNC that matches his career aspirations. He landed on the new company with excitement and was shocked to see no work allocated in the first few months after exhibiting his willingness to aid his manager.

In due course, he got access to a host of digital tools and tried to pull the web/digital analytics report to share it with his internal stakeholders. The manager advised him to report the data in a standard presentation template to get a final buy-in from the internal stakeholders during his bi-weekly project calls related to the company website projects.

With tons of zeal, he started presenting the data reports to the internal stakeholders and was surprised to see a null response from the audience. He repeated the same approach with different product stakeholders but all in vain. He had highlighted it with his manager. Got the stereotype answer to try his best to convince them.

No response from the audience enhanced his curiosity to find an alternate solution to engage his stakeholders in his upcoming presentations. 

He had changed his presentation approach to highlight key insights in a visually appealing way, reduced his clutter of information, and developed a narrative to give a whole context to his actionable insights after careful deliberation. 

He tried this approach on a pilot basis for one of the products divisions. He was happy to see a positive response from the audience with his new presentation approach. In addition, it enabled the audience to probe the relevant questions and set up a follow-up call with him to discuss the terms of the next steps.

He jumped out of joy and shared the same best practices with other stakeholders to seek their opinions. It seemed to be a successful approach and convinced other stakeholders to support his projects regularly. No turn back from there.

He later realized that he became a self-taught data storyteller and unknowingly used a few data storytelling elements in his new presentation style. After a deliberate success, he started exploring data storytelling learning on a full scale to improve his presentation and share the knowledge with his peers.

92% of the business leaders and data professionals agreed that data storytelling is “an effective way of communicating or delivering data and analytics results.” 

The moral of the story is all business professionals need to develop this skill due to a rapid exposure to data in recent years.

In a nutshell, it highlights how Shyam has adopted key data storytelling elements such as plot, context, narrative, visuals, and outcomes to unlock the value of the existing data to garner the attention of his audience.

Most organizations want their employees across the line of business to become data literate. So business professionals should gear up to add it to their new skills repertoire without fail as data becomes a crucial part of our daily roles and responsibilities. 

The onus lies with every one of us to master data storytelling – A soft skill of the data analytics spectrum. We should act as valuable change agents to create a culture of data literacy and data storytelling in our organization in the future.

On your marks, get set, go to unleash the power of data storytelling because we’re not born with innate storytelling ability.

“Everybody needs to go on a data storytelling course. Especially within the analytics community, because not everyone’s a good storyteller” - Kinnari Ladha, CDO, IAG Loyalty. (Source: business of data).

Watch out for this space to learn more on #datastorytelling.

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