BI technology is getting better and better - but are BI projects getting better also? I'm not so sure:
- Your so-called "AI" is only as good as your underlying data.
- Data quality, bias, and misinterpretation are near-ubiquitous problems.
- Put pretty dashboards in front of your business users. That does not guarantee better decisions.
To achieve BI project results, we must take it further. We need bold, experienced voices with fresh lessons. That's why we're thrilled to welcome Yellowfin as a diginomica premier partner. With Numbers don’t lie, but they can fib - without data storytelling, your data has no context, Yellowfin officially joins the BI debate on diginomica.
I say "officially" because we've been drawn to Yellowfin's outspoken voice and distinctive presence in the BI market for several years now. In my 2020 interview with Yellowfin CEO Glen Rabie, he explains how data proliferation leads to unmanageable noise (Misinterpreting data comes with a price tag - Yellowfin's CEO explains why generic BI projects are off the table). What Rabie calls "generic analytics" isn't going to solve that. The alternative? Quicker BI ramp-ups, with a vertical bent. Then Rabie uttered what I see as one of Yellowfin's mantras. The heck with BI/IT bottlenecks. Get the business user telling data stories:
As an organization, I don't have twelve months to wait for someone to come up with a new idea. I just want to get going.
We picked that up this year in BI adoption problem? No, that's a user experience problem - Yellowfin's CEO on good (and bad) BI. In that piece, Rabie speaks to the trends that caused Yellowfin Stories to surge:
Maybe it's because we are focusing on that business user a lot more; it just resonates with them. It's something where they go, 'Oh, my God, I can own that. I don't need to have the propeller hat on. I can take and run with and own this, and tell my story.'
But what constitutes effective data storytelling? That's where we kick off today. In Yellowfin's diginomica debut, Tony Prysten, GM Brand, Design & Digital at Yellowfin, issues a wake-up call:
Think about a series of charts and graphs supplied to a decision-maker with no explanation or framework. It can only lead to confusion and superficial interpretation. Without a story well told, and supported by an unequivocal, logical chain of facts, it’s possible for whole organizations to be led down the wrong path.
Context is everything, adds Prysten:
A chart or spreadsheet on its own is dangerous because there is no context. Yet words without evidence are just an opinion. Put them together in a collaborative setting, however, and you get the best possible paradigm: data storytelling.
Ah, but how do you get "data storytelling" right? If you're not careful, you'll wind up with a feel-good BI buzzword, and no decisive actions. That's where Yellowfin sheds light, via Prysten's six steps to better data storytelling. Check the piece for the full reveal, but for now, one that jumps out is:
Make the audience feel something. Help them understand the significance of the information. If the presentation connects with the recipients’ pain points—financial, sales, production, whatever—they will pay attention to what’s being said.
Look for business intelligence (BI) applications that empower colleagues to contribute to the storytelling process. Solutions should provide opportunities for contributors to insert insights into analytics at the point of relevance, via written accounts. Collaborators should also be able to enhance and refine narratives on the fly.
I can think of plenty of BI users who aren't collaborating in this manner. Ergo, if we want to deliver on the long-promised potential of BI, we all have work to do. But let's say Prsyten is right, and "data storytelling unleashes the power of analytics." If so, then we have a potent way forward. Let's see where Yellowfin takes this great BI conversation from here. Welcome.