Data is one of the most powerful resources in modern business.

It surrounds an organisation every single day. Every time a transaction is made, every time a customer waits or fails to purchase, every time a pallet is restocked, a service is rendered and an advert is clicked – it’s all data. Metrics and stats are being produced every hour.

As an FP&A Manager, BI Specialist or C-Suite Executive, you know data is important and you’re probably seeing lists of numbers daily – but what does it all actually mean? How does this data translate into actual insights that can improve decision-making?

And, how do you communicate the meaning behind the numbers to key decision-makers in a way they will understand?

This is where Data Storytelling comes in

When harnessed correctly, data can unlock hidden secrets that can transform a business in ways that were never thought possible. Yet on its own, data is static and meaningless. Simply collecting data is not enough, and even analysis is only one part of solving the data puzzle.

Here’s why it’s so critical to look beyond the numbers and more into the story they tell.

Unlocking the meaning behind your business data

To utilise the true power of data, it needs to be clearly presented and able to be understood.

Without effective communication, data is just numbers that will often leave decision-makers confused, underwhelmed and unable to take action. In today’s fast-paced world, we don’t have any extra time to spare – and so, if data insights are not articulated in a way that’s useful and translatable into action, then they will just get overlooked or even ignored, creating significant missed opportunities.

To make the most of your data, you need to tell an effective story that delivers insight beyond the numbers.

What is Data Storytelling?

Data storytelling is the practise of collecting raw data, uniting and analysing it to then form contextual meaning which can be explained as a narrative. It’s essentially putting together and communicating the “why” behind the data. It enables holistic insights to be determined and then acted upon in a well-informed way.

For instance, the number of abandoned shopping carts your website has every day doesn’t tell you why sales are dropping. However, looking at the data behind the products in those carts, shopping times, customer locations and active discounts can weave together ‘a story’. This will give you an indication as to why people are not converting, allowing you to address the problem.

So, you may find that the story the data is saying is:

Sales are dropping as customers in Western Australia, who are two hours behind the East Coast, are placing discounted items in their cart, only to find that those discounted prices expired during their ideal shopping time of 8pm (which is 10pm in Sydney). In frustration, half of Australia is abandoning their entire shopping on the site. Hence the drop in sales.

This is the power of data, or more precisely, the power of effective data storytelling.

How to tell an effective data story  

Here are some ways you can strike a balance between numbers and narratives, visuals and data through effective data storytelling.

Know who your audience is

As with any story, the first step is to determine who your audience is.

Not everyone is a data specialist or scientist! So, when presenting data, it’s important to make the story relevant and relatable so that decision-makers are able to comprehend the data story you’re trying to tell.

Develop a plotline with a clear objective

A good data story has a specific goal that you want to convey to your audience (such as the need to develop tactics around product supply), bound together with a plotline.

The plot includes an introduction (a current business challenge like upcoming supply shortages), a body (this is where you describe what the current results say and what is predicted), and a conclusion (the outcomes of several courses of action).

Set the context


Next, the audience needs context to establish what they are seeing. Framing the story of data starts with the why, the what, and the how. For instance, why was this collected, what are we seeing, and how is it going to help us?

Let the data tell the story

While you want your data story to be engaging and compelling, you also have to be objective and let the numbers show the facts. After all, effective unbiased data storytelling sets the stage for deeper understanding by offering:

  • a comprehensive explanation of why the data was collected
  • what trends are present in it
  • what they look like within the organisation, and
  • how these insights are going to help decision-makers today and into the future.
  • Use data tools to support your data storytelling

    Creating a narrative for your data doesn’t solely depend on old-school presentations and the spoken word – there are now smarter ways to tell a story. Dashboards and reports let you deliver your data story in a way that allows business leaders to quickly absorb the information they need to make better decisions.

    Developing these data tools enables business leaders to cut to the core of what data means for their organisation. Streamlining your data processes is about simplifying the story and making it actionable in a way that will benefit your business. When data is easily understood you will be able to unlock the true insights and opportunities that can make a difference.

Without a story, data can actually be a counter-productive business resource

Without the ability to tell a story, data has the potential to obfuscate more than it illuminates, which can create a barrier to making the necessary changes in your business.

That’s why data storying telling is such an important skill to have in today’s business environment.

Effective data storytelling enables you to pull back the curtain and engage key decision-makers in what the numbers actually mean. It is one of the most essential skills to develop in any organisation that hopes to harness the true power of its data.

How we can help you

At Minerva, we go beyond just the numbers to make data truly work for you.

Through our Digital Ecosystem Solutions, we develop and integrate data systems that provide clean, accurate and detailed insights. More than consultants, we work alongside our clients to explore the detailed stories within their data and explain the why, the what and the how of data.

We specialise in partnering with FP&A and Data and Analytics teams and leveraging leading-edge technologies to transform their operations. Our approach is agile and adaptable: whether you require an organisational overhaul or a departmental adjustment.

Let Minerva help you improve your data story capabilities

At Minerva, we collaborate with you and your team to find the best solution to replace your outdated data systems. Our goal is to provide you with the customised tools and training you need.

With key partnerships with market-leading software providers, Minerva makes digital transformation simple and more effective.

If you’d like to learn more about how Minerva can help you, contact us on 1800 646 378 or email info@minerva.com.au.

For more great data management content, follow us on LinkedIn.

Recent Posts

7 Significant Benefits of Using AI To Support Your FP&A Team 

In today’s fast-paced world, your ability to forecast both short and long-term...
Read More
Power BI

Can Power BI be used for planning?

We often hear from organisations that have hit a ‘data wall’ when...
Read More
AASB

How to turn AASB 16 Reporting from a burden into a beneficial business process

The introduction of the AASB 16 Leases Accounting Standard in FY2020 has...
Read More
Budget blog

It’s Budget Time: Is Excel Holding You Back?

Let’s set the scene. It’s the start of another budget season. As...
Read More
enterprise performance management system

What do you require from an enterprise performance management system?

So, your organisation has finally decided to invest in an enterprise performance...
Read More
Framework for digital transformation

A Framework for Digital Transformation

If you want to increase the pace of innovation and drive business...
Read More
Why digital transformation is important

Why digital transformation is important for business

By now you would have heard a lot about digital transformation and...
Read More
digital transformation team

Digital transformation team – who to involve?

If you are considering a digital transformation, one of the first questions...
Read More
data migration

Managing a data warehouse migration

Managing a data warehouse migration can seem like a daunting and overwhelming...
Read More
Cloud costs

Optimising cloud costs – alternate payment models in the SaaS industry

Optimising cloud costs and alternate payment models are top of mind for...
Read More
data cubes

Most data warehouse projects fail – avoid these mistakes

Data warehouse projects can accelerate revenue, reduce cost, increase operational efficiency, improve customer experience - plus more. However, improved efficiency is not a guarantee.
Read More
FP&A Model

How to develop FP&A models that adapt to your business

FP&A models need to adapt and change as your business grows. In...
Read More
Predictions for FP&A

5 Predictions for the FP&A Professional in 2022

For many, the first quarter of 2022 has not been the energised...
Read More
acceleration of digitisation

What the acceleration of digitisation means for FP&A professionals

The acceleration of digitisation is here and the office of finance can...
Read More
digital ecosystem

Reassess your digital ecosystem and drive business performance

Now is a critical time for finance professionals to reassess their digital...
Read More
Cloud data warehouse project - part 1

A successful cloud data warehouse project – part 1

If you want to implement a cloud data warehouse or have made...
Read More
Cloud Data warehouse - part 2

A Successful Cloud Data Warehouse Project – Part 2

A Successful Cloud Data Warehouse Project - Part 2 In part 1...
Read More
Finance of the future

Finance of the future relies on digital transformation

If you have read the recent research on finance of the future,...
Read More
data strategy

5 Questions to complete your data strategy

Your data strategy and action plan are critical in helping you maximise...
Read More
Data silos

Are data silos compounding your data visibility challenges?

In the age of information and technology, data silos are stopping organisations...
Read More
future of excel

Will Excel still be used by the FP&A team of the future?

FP&A teams strongly rely on Excel and are comfortable operating in this...
Read More
elevate the value of finance

How to ditch manual tasks and elevate the value of finance

Unfortunately, low-value, manual tasks dominate the day-to-day lives of many FP&A professionals....
Read More
budgeting cycle

4 Tips to improve your Annual Budgeting Cycle

It is June and you are probably in the throes of the...
Read More
improve forecasts

3 changes to help you improve forecasts and drive profitability

The last few years in business have changed much of the way...
Read More
strategic alignment

How CFOs can provide greater strategic alignment

The role of the CFO has changed and there is a greater...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Search here...

Leaders in Management Consultancy. Minerva Partners makes digital transformation simple, more effective, less time consuming and seamlessly integrated.

Contact Us