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  • Tara Kenyon, PhD

Be a DIVA: Turn Data into Money


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Be a DIVA: Turn Data into Money

Are you a DIVA?


I'm not talking about the hair flip, glamorous, don't-you-know-who-I-am? type of diva.

The Macmillan dictionary defines "glamorous" as "attractive and interesting in an exciting and unusual way."


DIVA is an acronym for "Data Insights, Visualization, and Analytics." Think of how much you could communicate to your Board, your team, your regulators, and your stakeholders IF you could present your company's data in as "attractive and interesting in an exciting and unusual way."


And I'd like to define "DIVA" as such as well.


The bottom line is: If you want to turn data into money, you need to be a DIVA.


The title of this blog post is “Be a DIVA: Turn Data into Money.” Why? Because DIVA - Data Insights, Visualization, and Analytics (DIVA) are the best tools for understanding your customers and what they want from you.


What (or Who) is a DIVA?

If you do a Google search on the word “diva,” the image that comes at the top of the list is that of Beyoncé. You’ll also see photos of women who compete in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Annie Lenox has an album called "Diva," so she comes up, too. In some cases, you may even see a photo of Elton John.


But I want to tell you today about a 19th-century DIVA: the pioneer of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.


I first heard about Florence Nightingale when I was in Grade 4. All I remember about her was that she was a nurse, called “The Lady with a Lamp” for seeing hospital patients during the dark of night in the 1850s.


Nightingale is certainly considered the founder of modern nursing, but did you know that she was also a ✨DIVA✨? (DIVA = Data Insights, Visualization, and Analytics).


Flo was not only a pioneer in nursing, but she was also a pioneer in statistics and data visualization with the use of infographics…a very powerful use of infographics.


She was alarmed by the mortality rates of soldiers - death due, not to wounds acquired in combat, but to poor diet and abysmal sanitary conditions.


Pioneer of Statistics and Data Visualization

She saw clearly - just as we do today - that tables of data and statistics are often cast aside as boring, difficult, or meaningless. Tables of statistics ceased to move the Powers-That-Be to do anything about sanitary reform in the 1850s…because death was considered to be a certainty in war.


So with her cousin, artist Hilary Bonham Carter (yes, actress Helena Bonham Carter is a relative of Flo's), she designed what she called the “coxcomb” diagram - a form of circular histogram called a "polar area" diagram today - and sent it to none other than the Queen of England herself.

The results? She was not only able to demonstrate that bad drainage, contaminated water, overcrowding, and poor ventilation were causing a high death rate among soldiers, she was able to get funding for her sanitary reforms.

After 10 years of those reforms, she reported that mortality among British soldiers in India had declined from 69 to 18 per 1,000.


The coxcomb, referred to now as the “Nightingale Rose” because of the data visualizations emanating from the center of the diagram and expanding out, is considered today to be a bit disingenuous – because they exaggerate Nightingale’s point.


Engineer Dr. Paul Lewi writes in his book, Speaking of Graphics:

“Nightingale invented her ‘coxcombs’ for the purpose of communication and for persuasion of people that were contemporary with the events that are described by it. She was lobbying for her hospital reform. The audience she had in mind was the health commission and the government of her time, rather than the historian and statistician of today.”

What is Your Customer Data Telling You?

So what is your customer data telling you? Are you getting volumes of tables that bore you to tears? If you are, you need to ask for data visualization – not necessarily Florence Nightingale’s coxcombs, but you need data visualizations and infographics for the purpose of communication and for persuasion of people that are contemporary with the events that are described by those graphics.


OK, I know you’re not the one that knows how to put visualizations together. I get that.

But here's a little secret: If you can learn to ask for what you want from your data team, they will deliver.


And if they can deliver data analytics in a way that can turn that data into money, you've won already.


Be a DIVA!

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