As IT professionals, we deal with quantitative information quite a lot — on a daily basis, literally. Many of us present numeric data to colleagues: be it a report, forecast, or information dashboard. However, only a few possess the basic skills to present numbers well. Most of us have never been trained to do this.
Despite tremendous progress in software applications that accelerate data sensemaking, visualization, and distribution, there is still the need for humans to comprehend the data and represent it to others. Software alone cannot do all the work for us.
When working with numbers, it is important to find and inspect meaningful patterns and pass them over to the audience so they could gain insights, too. To make this happen, we must acquire skills in numeric data presentation.
As Stephen Few concludes in his book Show Me the Numbers,
“The right numbers have important stories to tell. They rely on us to find those stories, understand them, and then tell them to others in a way that is clear, accurate, and compelling.”