Data tables were once called Information Systems. MIS then became Dashboards. Dashboards transformed to Data Visualization. Which is now Data Storytelling. But the real story gets hidden under these constantly evolving terminologies. Each step of change carried its own justification.
The last one, from visualization to storytelling, showed that while it’s important to present information in visually intuitive ways, it is equally important that the data has a compelling narrative. The narrative is about the context of the metrics, presented along with a time view, and why the metric changed. Irrespective of the term, the core was always about
1. What can one see?
2. Who can it help?
What data does for decision-makers
The amount of information we can see from data has gone through a massive transformation thanks to digitalization. The rate of information capture has zoomed ahead. Take an example of changing the loan pricing from a flat 10% to 11% for riskier clients, and 9% for the less risky. To distribute to telecallers and frontline staff (with longer application cycles) meant we needed to wait for a month before we understood and exposed the data as insights.
Today, with digital channels and straight-through bookings, the same can be deduced in days. While in earlier cases, this meant that decision makers checked the dashboard weekly, they should now get this information every hour, if not daily. It’s important to note that while the speed of measurement has quickened, it’s also about the speed of the underlying business process that has correspondingly gathered pace.
Acting on the right insights leads to revenue acceleration.
Dashboards were always for the bosses. It is for them to see and make decisions on who keeps their job. While this continues to be true, data is now about how operational staff/channels can have the right insights on the client. This helps them convert insights into revenue. With data intelligence being available to the rank and file of the organization, it straightaway changes the MIS/Dashboard/Viz tool from a ‘good to have’ or ‘makes me sound smart’ tool into a revenue tool. Despite all the Covid-led digitalization, frontline sales (tele or direct) still capture a large share of the customer attention span. Data making that attention span valuable is a serious revenue contribution.
The combination of getting insights faster and making it available to a larger audience makes the space of data storytelling incredibly exciting. It’s a genuine revenue accelerator that gets subsumed under initiatives like data democratization or building a data centric firm. The biggest proof is the ~16 Bn USD acquisition of Tableau by Salesforce and renaming their Einstein platform as Tableau CRM. Any AI-led insight delivery needs to be accompanied by a robust visualization platform. A contextual real-time AI bot that tells you the 3 most relevant pieces of info about the client is an MIS as well!