Hybrid visualization teams & ‘data storytellers’ are changing the way we look at data, and what we do with it.
Data Visualization, Defined
Data visualization is, in many ways, the bridge between your data’s complexity and your team’s ability to comprehend and derive value from it. Its technical definition is as follows: the presentation of data in a pictorial or graphical format. But beyond its role as a visual tool, Data Visualization enables decision-makers to understand what the data is telling them so they can grasp difficult concepts and identify new patterns.
While most data visualization tools are designed to help analysts gain deeper insights into the data they work with every day, they also allow more people across the firm to see, understand, and use those insights in their day-to-day work as well. As Forbes contributor, Eva Murray, describes, “data analysis and visualization isn’t only about reporting change; data can bring about change.” It does so by helping decision-makers derive actionable insights, as well as a better understanding of the business itself, through data.
Data Storytelling & Hybrid Visualization Teams
Today’s data analytics is a three-legged stool: science, art and cognitive perception. Without all three of these, the data gets stuck in the “information bucket,” delivering information on a page instead of an actionable new insight.
Data visualization helps facilitate an impact on decision-making by placing analysis within a corresponding context to help data tell a story – and when done right, a persuasive one. As such, data visualization in itself usually isn’t the end goal – it’s about initiating discussions, debate and ‘next steps’. And to do so, businesses need to develop teams that can tell stories from the relevant data that executives can understand and act on. That’s why many data analysis and visualization teams are no longer data analysts alone. Hybrid visualization teams also include what Caitlin Willich at Clarity Insights calls “data storytellers”, who work to integrate data findings with the “tribal knowledge” of the business and its industry, bringing analytical insights to life.
Data story tellers (also sometimes called data artists or data translators) work to define business problems that analytics can help solve and guide analysts in creating analytics-driven queries and solutions that can be embedded into business operations. In turn, they also help non-analysts visualize what the data is telling them by presenting data findings in ways that are digestible, understandable, and useful.
These team members bring soft skills to the table – In most cases, they’re good communicators, creative, and even artistic. “It’s specialized work, calling for strong business acumen, some technical knowledge, and project management and delivery chops.”
In a data-driven corporate landscape, reducing barriers to accessing, understanding, and acting on data insights across the organization is critical – and therefore, so is having a strong approach to data visualization. If you’d like to learn more about how data visualization can act as an agent for organizational change and decision-making, reach out to our team today.