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Four Fundamental Categories of Storytelling With Data in the Era of AI

April 24, 2024

In an insightful article by Ganes Kesari, published in January, 2024, the evolving landscape of data presentation in the era of generative AI is discussed. As AI tools like ChatGPT and Gemini redefine how we interact with data, the importance of storytelling remains paramount, especially in complex decision-making scenarios. Kesari gives guidance and a framework to understand how to leverage both AI and visual narratives for optimal outcomes.

The Continued Relevance of Visual Data Narratives
Despite the advancements in AI, visual narratives retain their significance. They are not merely about presenting data; they are about telling a story that resonates. Unlike traditional data sets or tables, visual narratives engage the viewer, making complex information more digestible and memorable. The rise of dashboards in the 2000s marked a shift in how data is consumed, allowing for a more interactive exploration of data in an attempt to answer specific business queries.

Generative AI: Enhancing, Not Replacing
Generative AI tools for business have transformed the data landscape by interpreting and responding to human language in a manner not seen previously. They can streamline the process of deriving information that may be more insightful, but they don’t negate the need for visual storytelling. In complex decision-making scenarios, visual data narratives offer a level of depth and context that AI alone cannot provide. The key is to understand when to use AI tools and when to rely on visual narratives.

A Framework for Data Presentation
Kesari proposes a framework to guide leaders in choosing the right tool for presenting data, based on the complexity of the decision and the depth of insight required. This framework, a 2×2 matrix, categorizes decision-making scenarios into four quadrants, each requiring a different approach to data presentation.

  • Exploratory (Simple): For straightforward, dynamic queries, AI-enabled chat interfaces are ideal. They provide rapid responses to a series of simple questions, making generative AI a perfect fit for such scenarios.
  • Explanatory (Simple): In cases where key insights need to be explained, a generative AI solution can play a crucial role in interpreting data and providing conversational explanations. Here, AI might integrate with business intelligence tools to offer a more interactive and insightful experience.
  • Exploratory (Sophisticated): For more complex queries where users need to explore and compare multiple factors, interactive dashboards can be more effective. They offer a richer, more engaging way to navigate through detailed data sets.
  • Explanatory (Sophisticated): In high-stakes situations requiring detailed context and intricate detailing, such as board meetings or strategic decision-making, the art of data storytelling shines. Here, the narrative is key, and while AI can assist in gathering and organizing information, the storytelling aspect remains a distinctly human skill.

Collaborating with AI in Data Storytelling
The true potential lies in the synergy between AI and human intelligence. Generative AI tools might enhance the data story life cycle by helping identify analytical insights, aiding in visualization design and translating statistical summaries into impactful business recommendations. This collaboration can help create a more nuanced and efficient approach to data storytelling.

The Future of Data Storytelling
In the future, it seems reasonable to assume that the role of generative AI in data storytelling will only grow. It will revolutionize the way we create and consume data narratives, making them more accessible and insightful. However, the human element of storytelling will remain indispensable, especially in sophisticated decision-making contexts.


In the generative AI era, the art of data storytelling endures as a vital tool for effective decision-making. While AI enhances our ability to process and understand data, the human touch in crafting compelling narratives will remain. Leaders who skillfully navigate this blend of AI capabilities and storytelling prowess will drive their organizations towards more informed, insightful, and impactful decisions.


  • Kesari, G. (2024). The Enduring Power of Data Storytelling in the Generative AI Era.

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