Driving Action Through Data Storytelling
All organizations—large enterprises, nonprofits, governmental agencies, and the like—have strategic initiatives. Depending on the organization, these initiatives may entail expanding to new markets, launching product lines, meeting sustainability goals, or restructuring internal processes. The options are endless.
No matter their nature, the universal truth is that strategic initiatives are never easy to achieve. They are tackled over many months or years and their success depends largely on one thing—executive alignment and support. In order to drive progress, it’s imperative to arm upper management with the knowledge they need to make the best strategic decisions. That should be easy considering that through widespread digital transformation, most businesses have gained access to an abundance of data, available anytime, anywhere. The challenge is that the average business still struggles to use even a fraction of this data in a way that drives action from the top down.
The software industry’s response to this data conundrum has widely been centered on one feature—dashboards. Theoretically, dashboards help by aggregating and displaying critical metrics and key performance indicators on a single screen. While certainly helpful, dashboards still rely on end users to interpret data and relay gleaned insights to key stakeholders. Unfortunately, there is often a gap in this process and information that should impact business decisions never makes its way to upper management. Even if upper management is informed, the narrative surrounding the insight often isn’t communicated in a way that elicits attention. If an executive doesn’t grasp an insight’s significance, the data is ignored and never given the chance to drive real value.
In order to use data more effectively, a different approach is needed—software that enables data storytelling. Data storytelling is the effective communication of data insights. It’s the act of putting data into context in order to inspire action and influence strategic decisions.
Operationalizing Data Storytelling with MetaCX
MetaCX answers the business world’s need to better leverage data by operationalizing data storytelling. A core function of the platform is that it gives users the ability to build any number of data stories in persistent, digital spaces called bridges. Within each bridge, users can provide context to a corporate initiative, departmental initiative, or business relationship.
A bridge is highly customizable, giving users the ability to outline the desired outcomes of an initiative or business relationship as well as any corresponding action plans, assets, and performance metrics. The metrics that are shared in a bridge update in real time, providing insight into progress made as well as indicating when efforts are straying from the intended direction.
In order to speak to a specific moment in time or drive a specific action, users can create individual narratives within a bridge. The narratives feature gives users the ability to build a more focused data story with copy, images, and custom MetaCX objects. Using these components, users are able to craft data into a comprehensive story arc that communicates the status of an initiative or business relationship with a suggested course of action.
Once a data story is crafted in a bridge, it can be shared with executives by inviting them into the digital space. It’s a mutually beneficial system. Upper management gets to adopt a standard, streamlined process for reviewing and actioning key insights and employees benefit from enacting data-driven change that ensures their success at both a departmental and company level.
The benefits of data storytelling are profuse. By presenting data in an informative, persuasive way, it’s much easier to get buy-in from upper management to fund new initiatives, streamline processes, remove roadblocks, or add additional resources. It’s a useful tool across every functional area. Analysts and data scientists are not the only ones who can make data actionable; every department from marketing to customer success can use data storytelling to drive change.
The better organizations communicate insights, the more impactful they become. As data storytelling becomes a more integral part of the business model, new opportunities will surface, valuable internal conversations will occur, departments will be better aligned, and strategic decisions will be made that make the difference between success and failure. It’s time to embrace a new path forward.