What’s the story in your data? – idoba

What’s the Story in Your Data? – idoba

Our Story Begins…

idoba is a technology informed services company born out of the desire to rethink, transform and disrupt industry. One of the ways that we do this is by finding the stories in data, just as it was done in the recent health hackathon, hosted by WA Data Science Innovation Hub’s (WADSIH).

During the event, various teams came together to explore data and pitch their solutions to problems within the health industry. This is a continuation of work we have been involved in before and a topic that is close to our hearts.

What is Data Storytelling, and Why is it Important?

Today, data is one of the most valuable assets in a business, and the companies that can turn data into insight and then into action will outperform their competitors. Turning data into insight requires a skill called data literacy, and one of the core pillars of data literacy is the ability to tell a story from data.

Storytelling has been used to engage, ignite passion and imagination, and teach for centuries. Those who use storytelling effectively don’t just present facts, they present stories that will be remembered, believed, and retold across multiple mediums.

Data storytelling is just that. It helps data feel alive and ensures that the message is meaningful and relevant. Critical information can be lost without it and, more importantly, data not encased in story form may not inspire action and change, especially when shared across a large organisation.

With Data in Hand, We Sat Down and Started Uncovering the Story

When sharing data stories in an organisation, the first thing most people think of is a dashboard.

Dashboards allow us to share data across an organisation whilst making it easy for anyone in the organisation to access key metrics needed to make better decisions. But because data storytelling is often misinterpreted as just an extension of data visualisation a lot of dashboards are often cluttered and hard to decipher. They take too long to read and interpret making it harder for information to be passed along effectively. Therefore, data that could help make better decisions gets disregarded because:

  • The dashboard is ignored, or
  • It takes too long to find.

A good example of this was when we were approached by Fiona Wood, to see if there was anything she could do to better support her patients and their recovery after they left her burns unit. She had the data, now she just needed us to do some data storytelling.

We didn’t want to hand Fiona another story in the form of a dashboard. Instead, we worked with her and her team to understand the problems they were facing, what data they had collected, and what the three main questions were that needed answering. Through discussion and partnership, they were found to be:

  1. The skin’s capacity to heal,
  2. The development and maintenance of scarring, and
  3. Long term health issues the patient may experience after a burn.

With these questions in mind, we started analysing the data, and we found a correlation.

It was a Perfect Correlation

When we told Fiona and her team about the correlation we had found in the data, they were amused. We were confused. We asked them if we were missing something. They said yes.

The cause of this perfect correlation was that these patients were being given anaesthetic.

In that moment it became obvious that we had been missing a key component – Context. Data can tell you just about anything you want to know, but only if you have the right context.  Bringing together domain experts and data scientists is the only way to bring context to the data.

They asked us afterwards if we had found anything else, and we had. At the time of discovery, it didn’t seem like a big correlation to us, but with the added context it painted a much clearer story within the data.

Who were they going back to?

The data told us a lot about the patients and what happened when they got home. If the patient had someone to go home to there was a significantly higher chance of recovery. In cases where the patient didn’t, the rate of recovery was greatly diminished and had a higher likelihood of repeat injuries.

It was this insight that allowed Fiona to act. She was able to take this information to start programs and extra treatment targeting those at risk of repeat injury or where the patient had little to no support or informal care at home.

The Power of Data Storytelling

None of this would have been possible without data storytelling, or Fiona’s desire to disrupt the way things had always been done to find and create something better.

It’s why idoba exists.

We are a collection of companies that were brought together with our extensive range of knowledge and experience to create diversity of thought and to rethink, transform, and disrupt industry. It’s why we sponsored the Health Hackathon.

Data storytelling is fast becoming one of the most important skills. It will shape our ability to act quickly and make informed decisions. Without it we won’t be able to do either of those or innovate new and better solutions.

What story will your data tell you?



idoba was initiated in 2020 by bringing together companies who have over 50 years of experience delivering value to clients and a shared passion for a better future.  As idoba, they combine management consulting, digital technology, mining expertise and software engineering skills to deeply understand problems and co-create solutions that are valued and sustainable. Their team is proudly diverse with extensive lived industry experience and deep domain knowledge.  Together they actively challenge the status quo and traditional ways of working because they believe new thinking is needed to solve the complexities our industries are facing today.


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