Tell the story. The final step of the 8-step model is to bring together and communicate all of your insights. This is when compelling presentations and dashboards are created.
Whether a project is following a short-cycled lean approach or a more traditional project methodology, you must evaluate your work before you tell your story to others; only then you can tell the complete story.
Has the problem that was defined in step one fully been solved, for example? And what are the lessons and the desired next steps?
Whether a project is successful is measured by its impact on the business, not by the model’s performance. It is possible to build a highly accurate model with little or no business impact.
That’s why it is so important to define a clear problem statement in step one of the 8-step model. This ensures the real problem and the desired solution have been identified at the start of the project, along with the expected benefits, and whether the solution is in line with the business strategy. All this needs to be included in your evaluation presentations.
After evaluation, it is time to communicate the outcomes. Often, you must communicate across different audiences. This can be within your team, external stakeholders, or management, for example.
The content, design, and style of the presentation should be tailored to the audience. To achieve this, try asking yourself the following questions:
The answers to these questions will also help to determine which visuals should be included in the presentation. Sometimes, it is necessary to go back to step 7 and adjust your visuals or create new ones.
All presentations should fulfill a task the audience seeks to complete. The following three global formats can help you design with a purpose in mind.
REPORT This style of report is the most 1-to-1 translation of the selected formats. In a report, facts are narrated just as they are: A happened and then B happened, we now know fact C, D, and E, which we found doing study F.
The core audience here are managers that quickly need to know if everything will go as planned and if there are any anomalies. KPI-focused reports (or dashboards) are a good example of this.
EXPLANATION Explanation formats are used to make the user understand. The New York Times, with their data-journalism pieces, could be the ultimate example of this format. Their text and data visualizations work together to create an explanative powerhouse.When explaining difficult subjects, it is important to start with the context.
Understanding (neurologically speaking) works faster when we can place new knowledge in a bigger framework. This makes this knowledge easier to access and combine with other pieces of knowledge in the same framework (or context). Often, people like to dive deep into a topic. This works for an audience that is already knowledgeable about the topic. However, because no-one can be an expert about everything, a lot of audiences need to take a step back first to really understand what is happening.
Also build on top of what people already know. Imagine, you’re describing what a car is, but not to someone in the 21st century but rather to a knight in medieval times. You wouldn’t start with the shift-poke or the texture of the seats. You start with things the knight already knows, like horse riding, carriages, wheels, and travelling from Nottingham to Edinburgh. A lot of audiences that you are going to explain to will be greatly helped if you use concepts they know and can relate to.
PITCH & DRAMA Pitches and dramatic pieces (e.g., TED talks) are crucial formats to change the viewers’ attitude towards the presented topic. They often follow integrated and creative storylines to hold the attention of the audience. In this case, the audience seeks to invest or to be inspired by the topic.
3 WAYS TO MAKE DASHBOARD
Not all dashboards are created equal, and a big reason is that different users need to use them for different purposes. At Intellerts, we discriminate between three purposes and change the dashboard layout and design accordingly.
FAST REPORTING; KPI FOCUSED Managers are more concerned with steering the ship than deep analysis. They quickly want to find out how their companies (or other companies) are doing. KPIs are a great way of showing the key information. However, you should not only show the KPIs because much-needed context from data visualizations is missing and this could lead the audience to draw wildly wrong conclusions.
DATA EXPLORATION; ANALYSIS FOCUSED For deep analysis, you don’t want to only show the analyst the conclusions (like KPIs). You want to give them the tools to delve deep into the data. Luckily, nowadays, many dashboard tools give a range of functionality to facilitate interactive data exploration.
An example of interactivity is brushing, where the user can highlight certain data points. Linking is when you link two data visualizations with each other. When you combine brushing and linking, you could highlight data points in one chart and highlight the linked data points in another visualization. This allows for strong analysis.
DATA STORYTELLING; EXPLANATION FOCUSED This is useful when the user is not acquainted with the domain or doesn’t know the kind of analysis that is being conducted. The creator of the dashboard takes more authorship over the dashboard to create a better storyline.