Once your business has started collecting and combining all kinds of data, the next elusive step is to extract value from it. Your data may hold tremendous amounts of potential value, but not an ounce of value can be created unless insights are uncovered and translated into actions or business outcomes. During a 2009 interview, Google’s Chief Economist Dr. Hal R.Varian stated, "The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades.".
As data becomes increasingly ubiquitous, companies are desperately searching for talent with these data skills. LinkedIn recently reported data analysis is one of the hottest skill categories over the past two years for recruiters, and it was the only category that consistently ranked in the top 4 across all of the countries they analyzed. Interestingly, much of the current hiring emphasis has centered on the data preparation and analysis skills—not the "last mile" skills that help convert insights into actions. Many of the heavily-recruited individuals with advanced degrees in economics, mathematics, or statistics struggle with communicating their insights to others effectively—essentially, telling the story of their numbers.
Data storytelling is a structured approach for communicating data insights, and it involves a combination of three key elements: data, visuals, and narrative. It’s important to understand how these different elements combine and work together in data storytelling. When narrative is coupled with data, it helps to explain to your audience what’s happening in the data and why a particular insight is important. Ample context and commentary is often needed to fully appreciate an insight. When visuals are applied to data, they can enlighten the audience to insights that they wouldn’t see without charts or graphs. Many interesting patterns and outliers in the data would remain hidden in the rows and columns of data tables without the help of data visualizations. Finally, when narrative and visuals are merged together, they can engage or even entertain an audience. It’s no surprise we collectively spend billions of dollars each year at the movies to immerse ourselves in different lives, worlds, and adventures. When you combine the right visuals and narrative with the right data, you have a data story that can influence and drive change.
See complete article at Forbes.com ( Brent Dykes )
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