Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tell a Story with the Data: Creating a Culture of Analytics

Many organizations fail to create a culture of analytics, not because they don’t understand the value of analytics, but because the analysts fail to craft a good and relevant story with the data.  We have all seen reports filled with pretty charts, graphs and numbers.  After going through all the data if the audience doesn’t have a clear understanding of what the reports are telling and what they should do with those charts and graphs then the analyst has failed in his/her job, no matter how pretty the reports are.
Let’s face it, numbers are interesting for a while but a lot of numbers without a story leaves audience either unsatisfied or bored.  However a well-crafted story with data weaved in can keep your audience involved. It is still the data presentation but with a solid story that ties the data back to the business objective.
Data Analysts need to become better story tellers if they want to build a culture of analytics at their organization. Here are some of the elements of a good data story
  1. What are we observing
  2. Why does it matter
  3. How does it look compared to past performance, competitor, baseline, goals etc.
  4. Are we going to be able to achieve the goals
  5. What is effective and what is not
  6. What can we do today
  7. What did we learn that we can apply in future
Anything that is not relevant to the goals/objective of the business/stakeholder should be removed from the story (move detailed data to the appendix).  The KPIs should form the foundation of the data story.
Focus on the story rather than the tables of endless data and you will find that the people are willing to listen.
Other posts in the series