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June 20, 2019

What is Data Storytelling?

By: Anna Schena

Data Storytelling Defined

Data storytelling is the fastest and best way to empower your team to both understand and act on data through the power of stories. It builds a data-driven and transparent culture, creates conversations about what matters, and frees your people to do what they were hired to do.

Data storytelling quite literally takes your data and automatically turns it into plain-English stories. By providing insights in a way that anyone can understand, in language, data storytelling gives your team what they want—the ability to get the story about what matters to them in seconds.

How Data Storytelling is Changing the Way Your Team is Making Decisions

There’s a problem with how we’ve all been taught to interact with data—we are expecting anyone and everyone to be able to analyze and explore it. We assume they will make the time and acquire the skills to do this well but still expect the same out of them in their actual job.

Think about it—how do you interact with technology today? For most people, it looks something like Spotify, Alexa, and Netflix. People love these tools because they are easy, they are personalized, and you get what you want with zero work.

But most companies are still forcing people to jump through a million hoops just to get the story from their data. The emphasis on being data-driven, while excellent in theory, has become increasingly complex, time-consuming, and way more painful for everyone involved than it needs to be.

The fix? Data needs to start coming to us. We need to give our employees a way to understand their data without expecting them to learn data skills. We need to bring data insights to them, wherever and whenever they work. Data storytelling gives anyone, regardless of level or skill set, the ability to understand and use data in their jobs every single day.

It’s the Best Way to Give Your Team the Story About Your Business.

Instead of forcing people to learn how to analyze spreadsheets or explore dashboards, data storytelling uses simple, easy-to-understand language and one-click collaboration features to ensure that everyone in your company actually understands data, all the time. This makes it easier for them to make the right decisions faster, which ultimately leads to happier employees and better results for your company.

How Data Storytelling Works

Data storytelling doesn’t make you rip out anything you already have and start from scratch. It doesn’t require you to spend days or months configuring anything. It’s the fastest way to get everyone in your company focused on the right things, and making better and faster decisions than ever before.

It’s more like a cultural shift to bring data understanding and action to everyone in your company that complements your data exploration and analytics efforts. It’s the personalized, easy experience that you have come to expect in today’s world. It’s a new way for your employees to become truly data-driven.

So what happens when you start using data storytelling in your company? Let’s go through each step. Here’s how data storytelling helps both you and your team:

Step 1Instantly understand your data with plain-English stories instead of dashboards.

What happens when you give your employees a way to instantly understand the data that matters to them instead of forcing them to analyze spreadsheets or explore dashboards? For most companies, it means a radically transparent, data-driven culture is created, better decisions are made, and goals are met and exceeded faster. When your employees want to understand the business, or make a quick decision, you can use data storytelling to facilitate that instantly. But it doesn’t have to end there—they can start the conversation with other team members, if that’s what they want to do.

You can’t have a personal analyst writing reports for every single one of your employees. That’s why we built intelligent natural language technologies that make data storytelling work for your business no matter the time of day. You can empower your people to make decisions quickly by providing data insights a way that anyone can understand—a story.

Step 2 – Learn what you need to know to make better decisions every single day.

The typical approach to understanding data takes anywhere from minutes to days. Employees are poring over long spreadsheets, digging through dashboards, or simply asking their operations or analysis teams a million questions and waiting hours for a response.

With data storytelling, your team can read a personalized story that tells them what they need to know about their business, tailored specifically to their needs, automatically. Data storytelling technology is intelligent – it naturally articulates the most important and interesting information to each employee, every day. And, it allows them to share that information with each other, too.

Step 3 – Start the conversation with your team about how to take action.

Stories are the only way to ensure that everyone actually understands data. Stories are how we, as humans, best communicate. It’s how we remember what matters, and how we incite action. It’s how we persuade and how we motivate. Stories help us understand something new— creating new questions to be answered.

Instead of requiring employees to seek out answers, data storytelling ensures that relevant information is surfaced to your employees where they already are. Because data storytelling is literally stories in language, it enables things like commenting and collaboration, integrations with other communication tools like Slack, and robust sharing capabilities via email.

And, because data stories are in written language, they work just as well on mobile as they do on a desktop. Business doesn’t stop when you leave your desk. No matter where you are—on a plane, at your child’s soccer game, or just grabbing dinner, data storytelling helps you and your entire team keep the pulse on your business anywhere, anytime.

Data Storytelling, In Our Own Words

At Narrative Science, we are extremely passionate about data storytelling. We asked a few of our team members to explain what data storytelling means to them, in their own words. Check it out:

Follow Our Story

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