Humanising the complex world of data analytics through storytelling

While the pool of data scientists and big data experts is expanding, there is still a lack of talent that can match the insights with a narrative.

Data by itself is not intelligent. However, the tiny word like ‘data’ has assumed grand proportions in the corporate space in recent times. One major imperative here is, how well data is curated, processed, and analysed by specialists, to make it increasingly informative and intelligent.

The number of times you Google “Game of Thrones”, how much you travel on an average on a given day, or how many times in a month you buy clothes online -- the scale of data available on consumer behaviour is mind-boggling. Generating billions of bytes of data, however, is only half the work done. Once data is collected in your system, the pertinent next step is to try and make proper sense of it.

So what do we do? Exactly what we have been doing since time immemorial to make sense of the unexplained, the untold – tell stories.

A tight storyline can help simplify the complex world of data. It can lend intelligence to sheer numbers. It can also help businesses create a clear and precise narrative about the company for its target audience.

Deconstructing data…

“The ability to take data - to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualise it, to communicate it - that is going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades,” Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, once said in an interview.

Businesses are investing countless monies in business intelligence and data analysis, yet they often lack actionable insights to improve pertinent decision-making. So, we still aren’t well equipped enough.

According to recent surveys, less than 30% of respondents who obtained measurable results from such initiatives, could actually monetise the same. Companies can do a lot more with data only if they understand it better.

To put things in perspective, IDC predicts that the collective sum of data worldwide will grow by a compounded annual growth rate of 61% to 175 zettabytes by 2025.

In words

Data storytelling plays an important role here. By transforming complex information into something easier to understand, data storytelling can address critical ‘why’ questions for a business. For instance, numbers can tell us how many people are watching a particular piece of content online, but breaking down that data can address why the viewers could be watching it.

Such insights have the potential to transform businesses and the way consumers interact with them. But till businesses fully ace the narrative around data, converting insights into action will remain largely elusive.

Interestingly, the challenge in realising the true potential of data analytics is often related to people. While the pool of data scientists and big data experts is expanding, there is still a lack of requisite talent that can match the obtained insights with a company’s narrative, and communicate the same effectively.

So, what next?

We are learning progressively effectual ways to use data for actionable insights. Telling a story through a combination of words and numbers will be the next frontier to explore, in the complex world of data analytics.

The most impactful way to make data intelligent and leverage insights, is to tell stories through data, associating a ‘human’ element to the data. This will grow increasingly significant, as data keeps becoming ever more ubiquitous.

This article was originally published by Fortune India.

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