The best organisations make business decisions based on accurate data, but this data needs to be framed within the bigger picture for it to be of any use. The narrative which allows people to apply this data to real-world scenarios can often get lost when just perceiving them as stats and figures.

Although people within your business may have a basic understanding of the statistics you present, what usually goes amiss is how these figures relate to your organisation and the direct action these numbers need to inspire.

CID Context

Context is the name of the game

Getting people within your organisation to emotionally connect with your data can be tough. The key to helping them understand the meaning behind these figures is by applying the correct context within your business and/or landscape. Without this reference, some of the more important figures you expect to invoke shock will simply fall short as they have no idea as to how this relates to them and their roles, in terms of scale or impact.

How does it relate to size, time or speed?

9 times out of 10 you will be able to relate the data you need people in your organisation to understand, to one of these three things:

  • Size
  • Time
  • Speed

A great example of this is a Tweet by Astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson “Not that anybody asked, but @JeffBezos’ 130-Billion dollars, laid end-to-end, can circle Earth 200 times, then reach the Moon & back 15 times then, with what’s leftover, circle Earth another 8 times.”

Now, this is still a sense of scale that seems a little abstract to us, however, when you’re referring to units in the billions this is pretty much always going to be the case. But just from reading that Tweet, we get an idea of how vast Jeff Bezos’ impossibly conceivable level of wealth is but more importantly it invokes emotion and allows us to have a response to it.

This is exactly what you need to convey to your staff when sharing crucial data points - so they can have an appropriate response and take the necessary action.

CID DV

Context through visualisation

With the importance placed on data in recent years, a lot of work has had to go into helping people understand exactly what this data means. Data visualisation has evolved greatly from simple bar graphs and pie charts - that lack any contextual storytelling.

Context must be provided through supporting text in your data visualisations:

  • Clearly labelling your axes
  • Providing colour keys
  • Datapoint labels and annotations on the visualisation
  • Explanatory paragraphs in an article

Context is the only way for your data to summon the appropriate response from within your organisation. Without it, your data visualisations can be meaningless and even foster more confusion.

For example, if you need staff to understand why website traffic suddenly increased, a month-over-month visualisation and an area chart can be a good way to convey your data internally. By utilising two different visualisation methods you can highlight the same piece of data from different angles, giving your data the context it needs to cement its relevance within your organisation.

The best business decisions are based on accurate and accessible data. If you are striving to adopt a more data-driven culture in 2022 then consider booking in for a free data audit with our data services team to give you a great head start.

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