The true value of data can only be realized if it is summarized into a compelling narrative.
A 2019 survey of 64 C-level technology and business executives from large corporations found that over half of respondents stated they were not yet treating data as an asset. I believe that true value can only be garnered from data when results of the data collection and analysis are succinctly summarized to form a narrative that can be understood and acted upon by any relevant stakeholder.
I have outlined three key questions that should be answered in order to make a compelling report.
Is the narrative easy to understand?
The foundations of the data world are based on statistical methods and the scientific process of analysis which, as data professionals, it is our job to understand and apply. However, the outputs may not be clear or accessible to a wider audience. This is sometimes forgotten by data analysts (including me), who show complex graphs and visuals without thinking of how someone may interpret them.
Does the narrative start a conversation?
The sign of a poor report is one where the intended audience remains silent. A strong data narrative poses questions to engage the audience and get them thinking. The findings may show a wildly different narrative to what the audience expects, and it is important to encourage them to find out why.
Can the narrative answer the ‘so what’ question?
Unless there is a key action or insight for the audience to take away, what is the point? Data becomes effective when it can be acted upon and used to drive change, performance or direction.
A report in which an audience comes away knowing what the next steps are gains a higher level of confidence in the campaign or tool being measured.
Source: Tyson, J. (2020, February 11). Engage your audience by using data to tell the right story. The Drum.
Editor’s Note: The author, James Tyson, is a data strategist at Zone, a customer experience agency with offices in the UK. His focus: how to optimize the importance and effectiveness of data.