Actions speak louder than words, but only data gives voice to the actions. It is for this reason that companies are starting to use interactive data publishing as a tool to provide transparency and validation of their actions. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an interactive data story is worth a thousand pictures. Every click provides a different picture painted in clear numbers. And it is not that companies have not been publishing detailed reports of their activities. They have been doing this for years. But as their activities grew more complex, the reports grew longer, frequently spanning hundreds of pages. This makes it harder for the time-pressed information consumers to unearth the hard facts about the organization. Thus, many information consumers have become suspicious that the long pages bury truths that should be displayed in plain sight. After all, we live in the age of Twitter where the effectiveness of the message is directly related to its brevity.
Companies that understand the Twitterization of communications are redesigning their long, multipage documents into interactive one-pagers that deliver instant access to relevant information. These interactive one-pagers completely redefine the user experience of reading documents. Why does this matter? Take for example retail. Today the power of every brand is directly related to the consumer experiences that they create. Before the digital age, the top three most important factors for success in retail were location, location, location. Apple Inc. can be credited for changing the factors of success in retail to experience, experience, experience. Since for all companies, documents are the most frequent touch points with stakeholders, redefining and modernizing the user experience is a top strategic priority. Interactive publishing turns conventional documents into websites-in-your-pocket.
Interactive data publishing is technology-enabled storytelling where data, narrative, and user interactivity are combined to create easy and impactful consumption of information. It allows for the modernization of digital documents and their distribution at scale through all digital channels. They can be published to websites and mobile apps, or distributed via email for reading online or offline. Furthermore, interactive data publishing democratizes the flow of information because the distribution requires neither infrastructure nor end user software licenses, i.e. interactive documents can be published to millions of users with zero server costs. The freedom to publish at scale empowers companies of all sizes to communicate with larger and larger audiences.
How are companies using it? There are many use cases for both internal and external communications, but here we will focus on three publicly-facing publications.
Most corporate annual reports span hundreds of pages and most information consumers use them as flip books trying to quickly scan and spot the information of interest. When such documents are redesigned as interactive one-pagers or websites-in-your-pocket (we use these terms as synonyms) the user experience is completely transformed. From being lost in many pages, the consumer is now in control and can focus instantly on the information of interest. The report can be both published on the website and emailed as an attachment to shareholders. A close relative to the annual report is the boardroom report. The interactive format saves time both to review the report and to produce it, as its generation can be completely automated.
The Annual Performance PR announcement can also benefit from an infusion of interactive data. Venture capital firm Innovation Capital did just that in their 2022 Performance PR. They inserted the interactive document in their blog. But they also created a separate publication where the interactive visualization wraps within the text like static images do, except that now the users can experience the rich data.
PCSMarket.org publishes regularly interactive data directly on their site and within their quarterly newsletter which they email as interactive HTML documents to their members. The interactive data allows their members to understand the flow of financial deals within the European Union. What made the difference for PCSMarket.org is the democratization of interactive data publishing that we talked about earlier. Prior to Storied Data, they had to build a custom application to display interactive data on their website. That would have taken months of custom coding and thousands in consulting fees. But even then, they would have not been able to embed interactive data in the emailable quarterly newsletters. With Storied Data it takes at most a week to develop even the most challenging designs. But once the document is ready, you have the freedom to deliver in any way – web or mobile. The updates are automatic and the infrastructure cost is zero. Storied Data made data publishing easy and cost effective for them.
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