Make data tangible by discussing how it will affect big issues in our lives: where we live; how our children learn; how we buy, consume and make decisions about our money; and how we form and maintain relationships. Credit: Fabrice Florin, published under a CC BY 2.0 licence
Data can’t be seen or heard but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to paint a vibrant vision of the future with some focused communications.
Working in the field of technology and data means we’re often dealing with data that isn’t visible, and technologies that are still in development. This calls for some creative thinking when it comes to making data issues relevant to business and the wider public, and answering the perennial question, ‘What’s in it for me?’
When data has powered the products and services we know, love, use and see every day the challenge is less. Think tracking your latest run on Strava, or sharing playlists on Spotify via your mobile phone. These data experiences are now very common – 9.6 activities were shared on Strava every second in 2016 – and the benefits they bring us very evident and very immediate: Strava allows us to track our own performance and compete with friends, Spotify lets us share our favourite music with others. And we can do it all on the go, from our mobile. While the data behind these services is invisible, they shape our lifestyles in very obvious ways. We all want to know about new product releases and the latest updates that give us just that little bit more functionality from our apps and services.
We all want to know about new product releases and the latest updates that give us just that little bit more functionality from our apps and services.
Helping businesses spot data opportunities
But often we are trying to communicate to businesses and media the potential benefits of data. Data that is ripe for innovation and exploration, which will power the Spotifys of tomorrow, but which currently lacks the big name portfolio of apps and tools and case studies. In this context data can be seen on one hand as ethereal and intangible, and on the other as an impersonal and irrelevant set of numbers.
Businesses often need help and some simple skills to see how data can enable them to develop new services, respond more quickly to their customers’ needs, and identify its economic opportunity.