New data tools turn facts and figures into stories
Storytelling has been thought of as the domain of writers, however new tools are being designed to find and explore stories hidden in datasets.
Databots help make sense of information overload. We have traditionally thought of storytelling as the domain of writers, however a new generation of tools are being designed to find and explore the stories hidden in datasets.
With billions of users leaving mountains of digital footprints each day, data storytelling opens a new pathway for companies and organizations to engage audiences in a far more compelling way.
Where once facts and figures were considered boring elements of a report or presentation, they are now treated as a crucial third plank in a data storytelling stool: data, visualization, and narrative. Data is the collected information sitting in the cloud or database servers of companies around the world. Visualization is the business intelligence tool used to show a graphical and highly visual representation of the data. Finally, the narrative completes the data storytelling plank by weaving all the elements together into a unique voice that touches the hearts and minds of the audience.
It’s no longer just video, audio, and fancy graphics that make a powerful media production piece. With the prevalence of visualization tools and artificial intelligence (AI), data can now be woven and embedded as highly visual and interactive storytelling in a way that provides a customized experience to consumers. This act of data storytelling is executed and presented at scale and designed to draw a unique emotional and personalized response from a target audience.
Since the dawn of time, humans have been wired for storytelling. As an audience and consumers, they persuade us to buy a certain product or service based on the emotional connection we made with these products and services via advertising.
We’re now seeing the emergence of new practices among companies trying to take data storytelling to a new level with an eye toward establishing a loyal following from the people they serve. With the newfound power of data to tell a story, we’re also seeing the proliferation of start-ups such as Nugit and storytelling with data helping companies leverage their big data analytics and transform them into a supply of powerful stories.
Here are some examples of companies and organizations that are using data storytelling to their advantage:
- Facebook happens to provide one of the best practices in data storytelling through their Facebook Memories page. Using machine learning, the user is treated to an emotional walk down memory lane through a presentation of data such as the number of friends, comments, or likes made on specific posts. The data is woven into a collection of photos, graphics, and animation that all add up to a moving story that will most likely be shared on the social network and elsewhere.
- Uber and Spotify are known to use data storytelling when sending out annual reports to their stakeholders via email. The email shows personalized information of the value each customer brings to the company. Spotify, for example, showcases the times spent on specific music, while Uber pulls together personalized statistics about the member’s experience with the app. These are all done at scale with the help of machine learning.
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sits on a wealth of all kinds of data, and uses visualization tools and narrative to draw people and get their attention, say, for example, on an informative piece about the onslaught of hurricanes on the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. Whether it is solely for information or persuasion, this organization knows that the best way to deploy data and get the attention of audiences is through storytelling.
Among the more powerful implications of this innovation is that it provides companies a new level of competitive advantage compared to those who do not embrace it. Early adopters can use it to establish a deep and meaningful connection using customized data storytelling at scale. With the help of AI, companies can foster a stronger understanding and promote a loyal following from the audiences they serve.