With customer demands continuously changing and cut-throat competition present in almost every niche, businesses heavily rely on data to stay relevant and ahead of their competition. This is because there are literally mountains of data available and if businesses are able to derive relevant insights from this data, they will be in a position to make important decisions that are sure to benefit the company.
That being said, a recent survey sponsored by AS, MIT Sloan Management Review stated that only 49% of respondents were somewhat or very effective at using data-informed insights to guide future strategy. The results are truly shocking as it is the lowest mark since 2012, which is problematic as the study went on to state that the most crucial objective for data-driven marketing is to make more decisions based on the insights derived from data.
To overcome these challenges to an extent, and, with the aim of being able to understand data better, data visualization and data storytelling are one the rise. This is not surprising as it’s commonly said that a picture is worth a 1000 words. When it comes to representing data, visuals focus needs to be on the ‘what’ instead of the ‘why,’ which allows companies to understand the crux of the data without any difficulty.
Hence, data storytelling is the best way to not only understand, but act on data through the power of stories. This methodology helps companies build a data-driven, transparent culture, which promotes conversations about topics that matter and enables people to carry out their jobs to perfection.
In this blog, we will discuss what exactly data storytelling is, and the latest trends that you need to keep up with related to this niche.
What Is Data Storytelling?
As the name suggests, data storytelling takes your data and represents it in stories that are easy to read and understand. The biggest benefit of data storytelling is that it provides your team with all the relevant information needed without wasting any time on deciphering complicated codes.
The main issue is that most companies face major problems while deciphering data as it is expected that everyone can understand and identify important insights from the data.
But if you think about it, how do people interact with technology and data nowadays? The most common answers will be Spotify, Google, or even Netflix. The reason for the popularity of these platforms is that they are easy to interact with and are personalized. People can get what they are looking for without any effort.
However, when it comes to businesses, people are still jumping through multiple hoops to just understand what the data means, let along deriving important insights from it. In a nutshell, while the concept of data-driven is extremely beneficial, it has quickly become extra time-consuming and difficult which is somewhat counterproductive to all its benefits.
The solution to this is actually fairly simple. Data needs to be represented in a simpler manner. Individuals should be able to understand data without having to learn complex data skills. And, that’s where data storytelling steps in.
The Importance of Data Storytelling
The art of storytelling has been used for communication for decades. Leveraging the imagination of humans, storytelling brings certain insights to the forefront that wouldn’t have been deciphered or understood before.
Up until recently, this art was completely ignored when it came to data-driven operations as it was rendered as a trivial or juvenile task. However, over time, data storytelling has proved that if not presented in the form of stories, most data often ends up useless.
Which is why in most companies nowadays, the first step to analyzing data is story-boarding. To create this board, questions like ‘why are we analyzing this data’ and ‘what decisions do we hope to make with this data’ are asked. The aim is to start small because most of the time, data has the power to create visual and intricate stories that don’t need complex correlations to make sense of it.
Top Data Storytelling Trends That Are Dominating 2020
The Rising Popularity of Data Storytelling
As more businesses are realising the value of data storytelling, users are becoming familiar with data visualization, so much so that they are able to tell stories that are personalized, convenient and easy-to-understand. The popularity of data storytelling can be attributed to the fact that data needs to be deciphered by humans, and humans tend to relate to stories more than numbers.
Hence, as organizations get more proficient with telling stories with stories, visualizations being embedded into applications and portals will become extremely common as companies focus on the benefits of data storytelling.
The Prominence of Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a prominent part of not just our businesses, but our lives as a whole. As AI takes over more industries and niches, data storytelling is not likely to be left behind. AI is surely a huge help when it comes to data visualization and storytelling as it helps to determine what data is most likely to prove effective.
Moreover, Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) assist in deriving crucial insights from the data, hence, your employees don’t need to focus their efforts on data visualization.
Making Data Mobile-Friendly
Mobile is the future, and there are no doubts about that. Today, the world is completely controlled by mobiles. Hence, data storytelling that is optimized for mobile devices has been gaining incredible popularity. Multiple vendors are currently converting desktop experiences to mobile formats to enable the mobile-first approach.
To ensure proper inclusion of all your employees and relevant stakeholders, it’s crucial to engage mobile audiences by offering a great experience on their smartphones alike. Apple is a great example of this, as it acquired a mobile data visualization startup, Mapsense, for $30 million.
Social Media Meets Data Visualisation
Arguably, most of the data that is available today comes from various social media platforms. Data storytelling integrates social media with an aim to engage an increasing number of followers. Most data researchers focus on creating multiple techniques and strategies to make data visualization social media-friendly.
That being said, it’s not easy to grab the attention of social media users, hence the true essence and creativity of data storytelling need to shine here as you must make the data presentable and visually-appealing. A few examples of this are GIFs, videos, images, etc.
Data Goes Beyond Visuals
While a great part of data storytelling is about the visuals, there are certain components that go beyond that. For example, many people get stuck on creating the perfect charts and graphs, as it’s the most common form of data representation. However, just the visuals aren’t enough. The data presented needs to be able to empower teams to actually decipher relevant knowledge and insights.
Hence, businesses have started using tools like Google Charts, Visual.ly, Modest Maps, etc., to create the perfect blend of visuals and meaningful data. Some of the most prominent forms of visual data representation are infographics and interactive maps that are used to inform and motivate users to create data dashboards without needing any complicated coding skills.
Data storytelling has become extremely robust and flexible as more businesses start using it and enhancing it to better suit their needs. Through data storytelling, businesses are capable of comprehending data, get access to actionable insights and overcome various challenges that they are facing.
Based on the current trends that we just discussed in this article, we can derive that this technology has empowered business to easily understand data and decipher insights to tackle business changes and improve customer satisfaction.
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