The days of basic pie charts and bar graphs have faded into the past, and new technology is transforming how we talk about data in today’s professional environments. Specifically, we’re living in a data-first world, one in which, after years behind the scenes, data science professionals are moving to the forefront, and in which they suddenly find themselves in high demand – but this presents a new challenge.
Data scientists and their ilk often use different terminology than those who have always worked in outward-facing roles, and everyone needs to work together to bridge this communication gap.
Mastering New Presentation Tools
One key way that everyone in tech professions can prepare themselves for this data-first world is by mastering the new presentation skills used to communicate such information. The fact is that technology has evolved specifically to make complex information easier to understand, so you’re no longer consigned to Powerpoint and Prezi. Now there are new options like Lucidchart, designed for graphical representation of data, workflows, and procedures. These tools can transform how those with fewer data skills relate to the information.
In addition to programs like Lucidchart, skilled information professionals have access to increasingly complex and elegant data visualization solutions that can improve accessibility and overall engagement. Innovative visualizations include practices like density mapping, graphic query webs, and link mapping; part of the appeal of these practices is that they make it possible to map non-numerical data and observations, trace thought processes, and provide alternative insights into how data is used, not just what it measures. This is visual storytelling, and yet it’s visual storytelling that demands data competency – a truly modern concept.
As noted above, technology experts and those in communications, sales, and other forward-facing roles tend to use language differently, and that can be a barrier to understanding, even with the best tools. It can also be a problem when working with clients. Luckily, proper collaboration between departments can bridge the gap, both internally and when working with the public.
One basic distinction between salepeople and technologists, according to the communication experts at Mandel, is that salespeople tend to focus on stories and humor, while technology experts tend to be straightforward and emphasize facts and specifics. Both of these elements have their strengths, and more importantly each strengthens the other and improves comprehension and connection. Companies should encourage collaboration – and provide training that supports cross-specialty work – as part of grappling with this new age of data.
Protecting And Managing Data
In addition to presenting data effectively, part of managing a business in this day and age is protecting company data – but many companies lack the expertise to properly manage their data and ensure that it’s kept safe. And even when businesses do have the tech savvy, they may be under strain in terms of energy costs. Managing data in a sustainable way is a modern challenge and one that a lot of companies don’t have the tools or budget to handle. The good news is that Google may have a solution.
Led by Joe Kava, recipient of the Infrastructure Masons 2019 Sustainability Champion award, Google has committed to match 100% of its energy use with sustainable sources, a goal that everyone in the data center management world should share. After all, sustainability serves multiple goals, including demonstrating a commitment to environmental welfare and, when done correctly, reducing operating expenses. And since most companies don’t manage data centers at the scale of Google, matching their energy use with sustainable sources shouldn’t be too difficult – but it all starts with changing how we think about data centers and our priorities when designing them.
We’re headed towards a new era in which there won’t be a divide between data people and communications professionals. What’s happening today is that data is shifting to become the heart of communications and everyone has to adapt. Through new tools, intensive data collection and management, and collaboration, though, everyone can participate in this revolution. Businesses may not be telling new stories, but they need to learn to tell them in new ways.