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The Importance of Data Storytelling to BI

Data storytelling is human analytic engagement in the context of business intelligence (BI). It employs encapsulated narrative, demonstration, and extrapolation in words and visuals. Data storytelling continues to grow in perceived importance because it fills a glaring gap between data and decision-making.

Organizations should think of data storytelling in at least three ways:

• As an individual or team skill
• As a collaborative process
• A feature set of tools that help inform value

Its aims span the gamut from orientation, education, and informative guidance to revenue generation, cost savings, and customer satisfaction.

Data storytelling—and the importance of narrative—is not new. In addition to being a high priority in our research, data storytelling is taught in seminars, executive-focused continuing-education workshops, and in regular classes at higher-education institutions.
Even elementary- and high-school classes adopted data-storytelling education, which suggests that data storytelling will become a required skill in the near future. This dynamic further reinforces that organizations need to define and institute data storytelling among their ranks.

1. Four years of data shows a slow, steady rise in the importance of data storytelling.
2. Across all functions, respondents indicate very strong interest in data storytelling. Responses from those who considered data storytelling critical, very important, or important range between 60-82 percent.
3. Those in operations and marketing and sales roles report the greatest interest in data storytelling and perceive it most often as critical.
4. Key use cases for data storytelling include interactive training and broad dissemination of information.
5. Data indicate interest among respondents from all organization sizes. Although very large organizations show the highest interest in data storytelling, slightly more than 70 percent of all other organizations consider data storytelling important, very important, or critical.
6. Respondents from the largest organizations (those with more than 1,000 employees), as well as those in marketing and sales roles, indicate the highest levels of interest in all data-storytelling features.

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