Thursday, January 13, 2011

Having the Data is Not Enough

For people in our industry, numbers have a life of their own. We get excited when data show us new trends, patterns and possibilities. But most of the world does not view this information in the same way. In fact, believe it or not, most people think of statistical data as dry, unfathomable, even boring.

This presents quantitative experts with great opportunity. You are the bridge between the dense forest of information on one side and hungry consumers on the other. The better you are at translating raw data into interesting, usable, vital information, the more valuable you will be in the marketplace.

This four-minute video was part of a BBC documentary on The Joy of Stats. In it, Swedish academic "superstar" Hans Rosling (the man who said "I kid you not, statistics is now the sexiest subject on the planet"), shows his enthusiasm for bringing statistics to life. As he says: "Having the data is not enough. I have to show it in ways that people both enjoy and understand."

Now, maybe you'll never have a media team at your disposal that can help you pull off the production values of the BBC, but you can use Rosling's enthusiasm as inspiration. Everything you do to improve your communication skills and hone your ability to translate dry statistics into accessible information will add value to your resume.

1 comment:

Parth Srinivasa said...

Thanks for highlighting the importance and value of making analytics enjoyable.

Hiring the BBC media team to deliver such visual magic is utopian to most of us. But fortunately there are steps one can take to make presentation with high analytic content enjoyable.

For example, se below a link for a riveting traffic safety presentation I came across. I later learned that the presenter's background is journalism - where communicating and relating to the audience is everything.

I am not in this profession, but you can see that the presenter and topic are fairly technical - as it is in our profession too. Using lots of images, videos, daily examples people can relate to (and knowing your subject inside out), we all can also create impressive presentations.