A key part of telling a story with data, says a Schwab executive I talked to last week, is thinking like a business person.
“You want to go for the high-level ‘aha!’” says John F. Carter, Schwab senior vice president of analytics and business insight, in San Francisco. Start the main conclusion, similar to news reports. “Less is more, but the right less. Executives don’t have time to get into the weeds.”
“The right less” has a long tail, where most of the data should go.
Less is also hard. The monthly summary comes after a long process of finding the story. Carter begins by meeting with a data analyst who has already sliced and diced a lot of data, such as new clients this month, new assets, new-client acquisitions. He’s turned it into preliminary conclusions and questions. A second meeting calls in units from marketing, business, and the field.