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Visualisation the first step to data storytelling

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Howard Dresner, chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services, believes that storytelling will be the next big thing in collaborative computing. With business intelligence (BI) tools becoming increasingly more sophisticated, and many now including some semblance of data storytelling, the days of analysing data for the sake of analysing data are waning.
“What if I simply want to send you a presentation and have you go through it and understand a point I’m trying to make? That’s where data storytelling can be useful,” he said in a recent interview, making the point that going through a workflow, or story, step by step requires more than just a simple overview of the data. This is particularly important in gaining the benefits of BI in a business.
“How many people really understand the data? One of the things I talked about forever ago was this notion of information democracy, where everyone ought to have access to insights to carry out the various tasks associated with their job and also to align them with the strategy of the organisation.
“And that’s really hard to do because people have a different level of knowledge and skill as it relates to analysing data. It’s not something we’re born with. And so using data storytelling would be a great way to leverage a very knowledgeable person – an analyst type – and distribute that more broadly, one, as a training tool, but to also help imbue people with the knowledge they need to help them do their jobs,” he explains.
According to Dresner, key features that are exemplary data storytelling features include author highlighting; being able to define the navigation or the flows of the analytical objects; allowing users to interact with objects in the stories; being able to control the navigation or have buttons to control the flow of that presentation; being able to play, rewind, pause; and allowing the author to record and synchronise their voice with various analytical objects or flow of the overall story.
Premie Naicker, CEO of Yellowfin South Africa, says that as the BI space increasingly moves towards data storytelling, visualisation capabilities have never been more important, as the underlying data serves only to support decision making. “Data visualisation is about far more than just displaying data, but a powerful way to explore it as well. Yellowfin’s data visualisation capabilities, for example, let users spot outliers and trends, allowing the ability to uncover problem areas, as well as providing a number of different options that help decision making capabilities through different perspectives.”
She adds that this functionality is one of the many reasons that Yellowfin has been included in Gartner’s magic quadrant for BI and Analytics Platforms. In addition, she points out that the product’s ability to integrate into other systems, which Gartner calls Embedded BI, has repeatedly proved its worth with companies across the world.
“Local company RUBiQ, for example has used Yellowfin BI to create the dashboards in its new BizTech GRC Cloud solution which creates a consolidated dashboard for intelligent risk analysis. RUBiQ was looking for a way to impart meaningful knowledge of to the business in order to allow for meaningful decision-making, and visualisation was key to that.”