The power of telling stories with data

by June 5, 2016

Big data analytics market is on the cusp of a major revolution with data being produced at a massive rate. This gives rise to creating meaningful insights from the data which could be understood quickly and easily. Visualization and storytelling out of data is gaining a lot of prominence. Do you remember any good movie which had an awful story? Probably not, same is the case with data. A good story gives a life to numbers.

Popular journalists, authors, new readers and managers are the best story tellers. But can stories be told with data as well? Certainly, storytelling helps the audience gain useful insights without digging deep into the data. With visualization and graphical depiction of information one can build an appealing story around the data.

The importance of visualizing the data

A good visual sparks the reader’s imagination. According to a source, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Also, visual information is processed 60,000x faster than text in our brains. I am pretty sure that you must be visualizing something right now in your brain. This is the power of visual communication which content marketers use all the time to generate leads.

A good visualization enables decision makers to recognize the hidden patterns and plan the next step. The history of visualization dates back to the second century when Egyptians used astronomical information as a means for navigation. Today, data visualization helps in identifying grey areas in businesses, understand the factors responsible for any specific consumer behavior, and predict the future. And, now when the big data analytics is becoming pervasive across almost all the sectors, data visualization holds a promising future and is worth investing.

Tools to facilitate visualization

Microsoft excel has long been used to create data visualization through graphs and charts. However, considering the volume of data produced every day, and for multi-dimensional and real-time visuals, R, Tableau, Google Fusion Tables, and Power BI are becoming preferred tools to express the data meaningfully through infographics, presentations and business reports. These tools help in correlating, slicing and dicing the data at any level of your analysis.

Moreover, there are a lot of books available in the market to hone your data analysis skills. All the above tools coupled with a good sense of imagination will attract the audience, and help them extract the meaning from the data.

Visualization in the age of big data

Data visualization has provided an impetus to the big data industry, and organizations are now exploring new ways to convey stories hidden in the data. The data visualization market is likely to be about US$7 billion by 2020. Making storytelling an integral part of the business environment will be of paramount importance to the big data industry. The time will soon come when algorithms will humanize the data to craft better stories than analysts and journalists. With the growing depth of big data, visualization will be an effective tool to help organizations safeguard themselves from drowning into the big ocean.