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Building Stories with Impact

November 4, 2019

Maddie Martin Maddie Martin
Maddie Martin is a Content Specialist on the Digital Strategy Team.

Building a story is usually the last step in data analysis within SAP Data Warehouse Cloud. Here, you visually discover and communicate important data insights. Creating a story is as easy as choosing what charts you’d like and selecting the appropriate dimensions and measures. However, there are different strategies and best practices you can deploy to build engaging stories that communicate exactly what you're trying to get across in a memorable way.

Define Your Goals

The best way to approach story building is to outline exactly what you're looking to find out from the data. This gives you a very clear jumping off point from which to find other insights. Is your primary objective to figure out what customers are buying the most by looking for any possible buying trends? Or is it to discover what salesperson is selling the most? Maybe it's all of the above. Focus on answering each question with a chart, (or multiple charts), then unfold additional hidden insights once the big questions are answered.

Use Design Principles

Keep design principles in mind when creating your story. Things like using white space to make stories easy to read, or using complimentary colors are a great way to highlight important charts in your story.

It's important to keep charts from becoming busy by minimizing color, eliminating confusing design, removing redundant information and putting data in the correct order. The goal is to draw people into your Story and keep them engaged by presenting information in a way that's easy to interpret. That isn’t to say you can’t present complex information, just do it in a simplified way.

See below: both charts are communicating the same information, but it’s much easier to see which quarters are doing best in the second example where the design has been simplified.

Use Numeric Points for Immediate Impact

The Indicator menu in SAP Data Warehouse Cloud gives you the choice to insert a Numeric Point. These are large numbers pulled from whatever data you choose to grab from. A large number alongside many charts draws people's attention to the numbers first. It's a good idea to carefully choose what numbers you display this way, for maximum impact.
In the example below, putting the Numeric Points on the left-hand side is a good idea, as most people will read the Story from left to right. The reader’s attention goes first to the number of contractors, total billable hours, and amount spent.

Add Thresholds

Thresholds can be added to your charts to show at a glance where performance is on any given chart. Thresholds can be set to show KPI's, as well as show benchmarks. To add a threshold simply click on the chart you would like to add at threshold to, hit add threshold, fill in the threshold values, and apply. To have the threshold show up on your chart you'll then need to select show threshold and decide on the display type.

Use Variance for Context

Knowing how well your product is performing in Q3 is definitely useful information, however it might be even more useful to know how it's performing in comparison to Q2, or even Q3 of last year. That's where variances come in. To apply variance to your chart, click on it then hit Add Variance. You can then choose to view the difference in values as a percentage, a numeric value, data labels on an existing chart, or a bar chart within the chart widget.


Add Linked Analysis

Linked analysis makes it easy to create relationships between charts in your story. You have the option to link a couple charts, or all charts in the story. Linked analysis is a great way to pack lots of information into the story without adding extra clutter. To add Linked Analysis click on a chart and select Linked Analysis. Choose whether to apply to selected widgets, all widgets on page, or all widgets in story, and click apply.


Use Filters (Input Controls)

Add input controls to filter data based on certain dimensions or facts according to your needs. You can apply input controls to your entire story or just to certain chart or pages. Input controls allow you to see data only for certain variables selected at that moment. To create an input control, select Insert > Input control from the main toolbar. Then choose the dimension or measure you would like to filter by.
In the example images below, an input control is added to filter quantity sold per sales manager, by location.

Try these tips the next time you build a Story in SAP Data Warehouse Cloud to get the most out of your data.

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