Moving data analytics beyond the dashboard

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By 2025, Gartner predicts that data storytelling will dominate business intelligence solutions, citing that 75% of all data stories will be “automatically generated using augmented intelligence and machine learning rather than generated by data analysts.”

Data has always had the ability to tell rich, compelling stories, capable of changing our perspective on a given topic or task. In the 1800s, Florence Nightingale famously used data visualisations to communicate how poor sanitary practices were to blame for high numbers of unnecessary deaths.

Today, the world of data analytics has become much more sophisticated. Despite growing complexity and application, the intention remains the same; to understand and communicate clearly how certain entities and objects influence and relate to each other.

As data analytics becomes more commonplace, scale and skills present a significant challenge for organisations hoping to adopt data analytics as a core part of their operations.

  • Scale
    Large volumes of siloed data can often limit an organisation’s ability to draw valuable insights. This can mean critical data is overlooked due to the scale and disconnected nature of certain datasets. The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that Fortune 500 companies lose roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge.
  • Skills
    Data Science skills are in high demand. A 2019 report from The Royal Society found that between 2013 and 2018 demand for Data Scientists and Data Engineers rose by 1287% and 452% respectively – compared to an increase of just 36% for all types of workers during the same period.

Narrative-driven insights

Narrative-Driven Insights offer a solution to these challenges. Combing Data Analytics, Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence, this technique opens up an entirely new dimension in data storytelling.

Narrative-Driven Insights help to address the issues of scale and skills by interpreting and generating direct insights into a given dataset. This technique draws some of the burden away from the human analyst and brings them to their results much more quickly.

By presenting insights in a common language, there is less requirement for support from a data scientist in order to analyse and interpret a set of results. Narrative-Driven Insights can interpret and communicate ideas present in the data in a way that resonates much more strongly with the end-user.

Consider the difference between a story about “surging cases” compared to just a line chart trending upwards. Alternatively, in our Farsight product tracking risks to food supply chains, we can generate breaking news alerts when we detect emerging clusters of food safety incidents.

Moving beyond the dashboard

Traditionally, data in applications is often presented to users as a dashboard; a collection of charts and graphs showing key metrics for the subject at hand. Typically, dashboards are dynamic and can be updated in real-time.

Dashboards typically provide users with a great deal of flexibility, enabling them to make their own comparisons and inferences. The downside of this flexibility, however, is that dashboards are typically narrative-free. Narrative driven insights, on the other hand, help to highlight critical insights within the data.

Core components of Narrative-Driven Insights and story-telling tools include trend analysis which looks for long-term emerging features of your data; and anomaly detection methods that uncover rapid changes in your data. This is accompanied by a change in how the information is presented to users. In Farsight, for example, we are not limited to displaying charts with information but can instead generate a newsfeed of key events. 

Find out more

Specialists in data integration, machine learning, AI, in-depth analytics and visualisations, Analytics Engines leverages connected technology and data analysis to deliver better insights and outcomes for customers. We create innovative software solutions that help businesses drive value from data. In 2020, Tech Nation named Analytics Engines as one of the UK’s “AI Companies to watch in 2020”. This year, we were proud to be featured as an R&D case study in the Tech Nation Report 2021.

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