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'Big Data' and the importance of storytelling

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November 2, 2017 – David Dishman, Account Executive of Corporate Communications & Editor of The Oklahoma 100

The use of “big data” is increasingly prevalent in today’s work environment.

Big data is simply the collection of high-volume information for use in your business. This can be anything from collection data at an oil well site to transaction data for candy bars at a convenience store. As computers and technology progressed, our ability to store, interpret and make use of larger amounts of this data allows for a greater understanding of how our businesses operate, what our customers are seeking, when equipment needs maintenance and more. Smart companies are seeing great financial gains the more they understand and use this data collection in their businesses.

But what does any of this have to do with communications?

Most people view data and a well-executed communications strategy as mutually exclusive. Data is used for fuel in the “hard-skills” aspect of a business — the bottom line, budgets, salaries, profit margins, etc. — while good communication is often relegated to the “soft-skills” portion in a healthy business. Both are fundamental to the success of a company of any size, however there rarely seems to be any crossover between the two.

If you find yourself in this line of thinking, you are hindering your company’s ability for growth. One is not good without the other, and both are necessary for a healthy business.

Good communication takes what you are learning about your company through the collection of big data and translates it into something everyone can understand. The ability to sift through the numbers in order to explain in words is difficult. It takes years of practice to become an expert statistician or writer — but to successfully do both? You’re practically describing a unicorn.

Thankfully, this isn’t a fairy tale and such individuals do exist. There are communications experts capable of working with you to help turn your information into usable stories to take your company to the next level. Are you an oil or gas company able to drill at the most fiscally efficient rate of anyone in the region? Are you selling more of a product because you learned of a better way of marketing through collection of big data? Did you learn something about your branch that could benefit the whole corporation? These are all important things to communicate, but they might be difficult to do!

Letting a communications expert who is well-versed in the business of big data handle some of this work can help set your company apart from the competition. It doesn’t matter if a business has a breakthrough if no one knows about it. It doesn’t help a company if a branch experiences a “eureka!” moment but is incapable of explaining how to replicate it across the company.

Collecting the data is the first step in modern business success; effectively communicating the results is the way to turn that data into increased financial gain.

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