Reveal the Meaning within Your Data
Miranda Singler • 5/27/2015
When paired with data visualizations, storytelling can reveal meaningful messages within your data to provide better understanding and incentive for positive transformations within your organization. The following examples illustrate how narrative-driven data visualizations have shaped decision-making throughout the past and into the present.
A major cholera outbreak struck the Soho neighborhood in London in 1854 at a time when the cause of cholera remained unknown. Epidemiologist John Snow noticed patterns in the outbreak and a strong correlation between the number of cholera-related deaths in Soho with the location of the Broad Street Water pump. To further illustrate his evidence, Snow created a map that marked the high number of cholera cases that occurred near the Broad Street pump. As a result of Snow’s data visualization, the city council closed the Broad street pump and cholera cases significantly decreased in Soho.
Far from Soho, in Siberia, chemist Dmitri Mendeleev likewise found ways to better organize and communicate the then known 63 chemical elements. Mendeleev noted that repeating patterns of behavior could be seen in the way that elements combined with each other, while recognizing the potential for new elements to be discovered. He arranged the known-elements in what we now recognize as the “Periodic table of elements,” which was published in 1869. By arranging the elements according to their behavioral patterns, Mendeleev gave chemists a foundation to understand chemical behavior and a basis in which to discover new elements.
But why do we even need stories and visualizations to communicate and understand our data? Because, as Alex Tizon states, “stories give shape to experience.” Just as the periodic table gave order to the elements, narrative-driven data visualizations are the vessels that give meaning to our data, helping to shape clearer business insights and decision-making.
Here at SymSoft Solutions, we help our clients to discover and understand patterns within their data to aid in business decision-making. We partner with our clients to help them get the most out of tools such as Google Analytics to understand information on bounce rates, conversion rates, and page views, while providing our clients with visualizations that easily reveal patterns and trends within their website activity. SiteCore Analytics and Adobe Analytics also provide our clients with real-time web metrics so they can create more personalized digital experiences for their customers. By partnering with our clients to create customized dashboards and data visualizations, our clients are empowered with data-driven story-telling vehicles that help them reveal key business insights.
John Snow – The First Epidemiologist - Atif Kukaswadia
About Dimitri Mendeleev - Los Alamos National Laboratory
Why We Need Stories - Jacqui Banaszynski, Nieman Reports