Sunesis Consulting

Data Visualization: How to Get the Right Narrative from Your Data

Data in its raw form is difficult to understand. The fact that there are so many data points about customers of say a bank means that without excellent data visualization, it is difficult to comprehend the customer data.

As Stephen Few said, “Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice”. The only way a target audience can get insight from raw data is to create a compelling story of the collected data.

As defined in our article ‘Which Data Analysis and Visualization Platform should you go for: Tableau or Microsoft Power BI?’, Data visualization is the organization of unstructured data in a way that business can gain more insight about say their customers, inventory etc. The insight derived from data analysis is then visualized in easy representations like charts and graphs.

A great data story will persuade customers to say purchase a particular product; it could also help a business gain investor confidence among other benefits.

What to emphasize when trying to create a great data story

1. Understand your audience

Jim Stikeleather, of Havard Business Review, recommends categorizing  the audience into Novice, Generalist, Managerial, Expert and Executive. These categories are based on the level of knowledge about the data that most of your audience lies in. Those with better knowledge cannot be communicated to the same way as those with little knowledge.

For instance, using data to help your team of marketers and customer service agents to improve customer experience can help them gain serious leads that are easy to convert.

Similarly, if you are using numbers to help market directly to customers, simplifying it will help them understand the data quickly and this is highly likely to lead to a purchase.

2. Get the right data collection tool

Data collection is the prerequisite to data visualization. Understanding the data that is useful in telling your story is important. Ask questions that matter then use the right to tool to collect and manage the information.

One of the best ways to collect and manage data is through a Master Data Management [MDM] System. A master data management system helps to create a single source of truth, verify the accuracy and quality of data, optimize processes and helps in complying with data regulations.

Using Business Intelligence tools like Microsoft Power BI, Sunesis Consulting employs the power of AI and cloud engineering to ensure your data stays accurate and organized. Learn more here.

A great example of how we use Business Intelligence Software as an MDM System is our recently created COVID19 Data Dashboard. Check it out here.

3. Find a way to connect with the audience

It’s important to remember not to be boring. Finding the hook that will get your audience interested is what will help you stand out from the crowd. To do this, you need to make the visuals relatable and emotive.

A great and user-friendly tool that can help you connect with your audience is Microsoft Power BI. Power BI is a data visualization tool that will help you create stunning reports. It has a wide array of graphical representations for you to choose from that will help the audience understand your data better.

Check our Power BI training packages →

Aside from harnessing Power BI, you need to understand what is the most important data for visualization and give it a context. Context for example means trying to understand Sales Performance [the context] by comparing cancellations, delays and on-time deliveries.

4. Keep it objective

While it is important to understand the decisions you want your audience to make from the insights you get after data analysis and visualization, ensure that you present data that is free from bias. This means not manipulating the data to tell the story you want it to tell.

Often, the lack of objectivity is unintentional but to keep your data free from bias, ensures you label your data correctly, used correct standardizations and ensure visuals complement the data by keeping to data visualization best practices. Read on 11 Power BI Best User Practices that Will Make your Reports Stunning.

On other hand, being too selective with what data to use can lead bias problems. How you deal with data outliers for example will determine how objective the result will be.

5. Filter the data

At the end of it all, review your data and kick out what does not add value to it. Ensuring your keep the data crystal clear, objective and lean will help you get the correct story from it. Remember that just because it looks good does not mean it makes sense to the audience.

6. Get feedback

Before launching the data, get feedback from colleagues or friends to determine if your data tells the story it is meant to tell. Getting feedback will help you review the data and probably see missed points as well what to edit out.


Following the above simple steps will ensure you get the right message to your target audience but at the core is coming up with right questions and context you want answered through your data. Excellent story telling through data persuades the audience to take actions that are positive for your business.

Tags :
Dashboard,Data Visualization,Master Data Management,MDM,Microsoft Power BI,Power BI,Power BI Dashboard
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