Even Data Scientists Need to Tell Stories

data-analysis-cartoon-1Two data scientists acknowledged in a recent blog post that even they need to sharpen their storytelling skills rather than thinking it’s enough to keep on cranking out data. They also urged their colleagues to recognize not just the power of storytelling, but also the need to tell stories to give their data meaning.

Writing on the “Harvard Business Review” blog, Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin of www.DoSomething.org explain that there’s a good reason many people immediately think “Big Brother” when they hear the term “Big Data.” While computers can do a lot–and keep on cranking out reports and numbers 24/7–people intuitively know that their core needs as human beings can’t be quantified or fulfilled by a machine. So the more computers are able to do and asked to do, the more anxious people become.

“As the cost of collecting and storing data continues to decrease,”Bladt and Filbin write, “the volume of raw data an organization has available can be overwhelming. Of all the data in existence, 90% was created in the last 2 years.” Yes, you read that correctly: 90% of all data at our disposal today was created in just the past 2 years! The authors caution that human translation and context is essential to make use of that information successfully.

“Without a human frame, like photos or words that make emotion salient,” the scientists say, “data will only confuse, and certainly won’t lead to smart organizational behavior.”

What do you think? How does your organization process and manage the data it collects? More importantly, perhaps, is this question: How well are all the humans in your company coping with the flood of data you’re expected to use?

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