Telling Stories with Business Intelligence

In 1983, Edward Tufte published his groundbreaking book The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.  In it, he outlines the importance of visually presenting data and statistics in a way that is easy to understand—beautiful even. His work is widely regarded as foundational to informational design and his methodologies are employed in political science, data analysis and visual statistics.

At their core, Tufte’s visualization techniques are about storytelling.

A series of numbers can be displayed in a bar graph, but it takes data and analytical storytelling to create a narrative that frames the context for the data. In the context of business intelligence, data and analytical storytelling is geared toward providing an audience with relevant and clear information so they can make informed decisions.

So, what is good storytelling in data visualization?

First, the audience is an important consideration in data and analytical storytelling. A particular visualization may help a sales team decide what product is best suited for a client, while that same visualization might be meaningless to an executive team trying to formulate corporate strategy.

The storytellers must also present visualized data with appropriate and relevant context. With that, the audience can make data-based decision that might lead to desired outcomes.

The final piece of data and analytical storytelling is engagement.

Although data, statistics and analysis may offer useful insights and important information, they have a reputation for being boring and difficult to decipher. Despite the catchphrase “the numbers speak for themselves” the numbers alone often say nothing. It takes a storyteller to make those numbers talk and it takes a good storyteller to make them engage.

Good visual storytelling can make business intelligence far more compelling. To learn more, feel free to give us a call or contact us online today!