Welcome to another edition of our new series of micro-interviews, in which we ask a fascinating data person a single question about modern data teamwork.

Here’s what we asked Ella Hilal, Ph. D, Director of Data at Shopify, and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo.

What are some things data professionals get wrong about distributing data to less technical stakeholders?


In such a data-driven world, analytics inform decision-making in leading organizations worldwide. I have noticed that data professionals fall into the pitfall of only sharing the numerical results of their analysis work with decision-makers.

We know that context is key and it is critical for data professionals to share the overall context in which the numbers exist, as numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. We need to be cognizant that every statistic fits into the context of a real-life narrative and we need to be aware of its impact.

To provide the most value from data analysis, developing a practice of accompanying analysis with contextual summaries — also known as data narratives — and proper data visualization is essential.

A data narrative should include all relevant background information about the data, the analysis, and its measures, as well as, the key findings and how they answer the business question that instigated the analysis in the first place. This is extremely helpful for those simply consuming the data (i.e., decision makers) and enables the data professionals to focus on the business needs.

For data visualization, a picture is worth a thousand words — showing data as a chart can greatly improve comprehension by making patterns more obvious to the naked eye.


What if everyone at your company could work on data projects together, not just the data-savvy? Collective Data Empowerment makes it possible.

Awaken your hidden data workforce with this complete guide.