Understanding the Value of Narrative in Business Intelligence

Posted by Maria Katrina dela Cruz

Aug 19, 2022 2:59:00 PM

Data is ubiquitous. That’s certain.  

Today, CFOs and CIOs face an apparent roadblock in communicating insights effectively across the organization. Through storytelling with data, you essentially give voice to the numbers from your database and go beyond the visuals. 

how to do storytelling with data
The current business climate is at the peak of the information age, which puts data in the front seat of progress drivers. Gartner reinforced the importance as it forecasted that by 2025, data stories will top the list in terms of data analytics consumption.  

But in its raw and unstructured form, you won’t be able to do much. You’re going to need a story that weaves everything together. Data storytelling fused with the business intelligence (BI) practices and the power of BI tools give you the best shot at making key people understand what’s happening that nudges them to take action. 

What is data storytelling? 

Data storytelling is a practice of communicating in-depth data and insights by building a context and a strong narrative that will help users better comprehend the information at hand. Through it, you convey the importance of specific insights to a particular audience.   

More than just a way of presenting figures, data storytelling for business shifts the way we consume and perceive insights. It aims to enlighten people — to make them appreciate the data in the best way possible. Doing so means appealing [to them] on a more personal level, or at least in a manner that’s relative to your recipient. 

How does it differ from data visualization? 

Data visualization is a branch of BI that deals with the visual representation of data such as graphs, dashboards, charts and tables, among others.  It is a graphical depiction that breaks down complex data relationships into a simple structure that can be easily grasped. 

When your data visualization is injected with context and narrative, it elevates into a higher level that is data storytelling. You are now telling a story that compels and influence executives to make a right decision quicker, further enhanced by the right visual format. 

Read Next: 6 Data Visualization Best Practices Your Team Should Know 

These two practices, when synthesized with the three integral elements of data storytelling, work together to get your message across in the most efficient way. Let’s deep dive into this in the next section.  

Elements of effective data storytelling 

Data, visuals and narrative.  

These three creates a harmonious relationship that supports your account. When properly used, they’ll be able to inform, explain and initiate change as necessary.  

  1. Data Component 
    This element is pretty straightforward. Data is the founding block of your storytelling that allows you to develop an acumen in explaining and understanding what’s currently happening. The data component is the key to achieving the insights that forge the much-needed context of your data story.  


  2. Weaving a Narrative
    Combined with the context, you need to build on your narrative to cascade the story your numbers are trying to tell. This area of data storytelling conveys your perspective through the refinement of complex info into useful insights. In simple terms, this is where your data is given meaning and your audience is enlightened on your ‘why’. 

  3. Using Visuals

    Further reinforcing your narrative, data visuals are here to connect the dots in a graphical way. Your infographic, tables, heat maps and others creatively prop up the story you’re creating [in both granular and holistic levels] and expose any outliers, anomalies or irregularities that raw data sets won’t.  

    In a collaborative effort, the potential these elements bring to the table result to an engaged audience. The combination of data, narrative and visuals generates a data story that leaves an impact and prompts people to make a necessary change.  


Why is data storytelling important? 

  • Bridging communication gap 

You have the data at your fingertips. What’s next? 

BI users can falter after data extraction if they don’t have the skills or the means to bring the information to those that need it.  Through storytelling, data analytics is transmitted in a fully optimized way between the technically-oriented people and the end-users of data. 

  • It adds human touch to data 

Data, in itself, is basic. But if you want to help CFOs and CIOs make a decision, you need to get in their heads. And this is the importance data storytelling plays in business analytics — communicating insights in a human way. A humanized touch in your narrative augments your understanding, which in turn helps mold your judgment and next course of action. 
 

  • Leaving an impact to the team 

Storytelling has evolved as an easier medium to disseminate information. You want to resonate with your team? Tell a worthwhile story of your data.  
 

  • Enhances value for your audience 

If you take your figures, present them in creative formats and embellish them with context, you make your recipients see the value that words on a document can’t yield. 

Who are the right people to handle this? 

To do data storytelling for business, you’ll need professionals who have solid knowledge in data analytics and good communicators in the form of business analysts. Your team will be responsible for blurring out the trivial matters surrounding your data, allowing you to put your focus on what’s really important. 

The skill set of these people is crucial as they will stand as your main tools in making your enterprise work and be successful in its run. 

Storytelling with data cuts through the noise in the business analytics industry today and is predicted to maintain its momentum in the years to come. Honing the data literacy of your team will significantly help translate information into deeper insights that inspire you to seize the bigger picture.  

We can help you take your business analytics to a higher level.  

D&V Philippines has specialized solutions for CFOs and small businesses who want to explore business analysis and reporting solutions. Our in-house experts can assist you in leveraging your data through their wide broad experiences in handling data analytics and various BI platforms. 

You can grab a copy of our guide The Rising Frontier: Harnessing The Power Of Business Analytics to learn how we can harness your business data and use it to your advantage. We can also arrange a free consultation for a discussion on how we can be of better service.

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