When it comes to offering audiences engaging and easy-to-consume content, platforms like Instagram and TikTok lead the way. In the world of business, too, storytelling-on-the-go has huge potential. SAP Innovation Center Network is creating a solution that helps address this opportunity.

“We want to enable companies to share business insights fast and in a fresh and immediate way,” says Michael Wittmann, senior developer at SAP Innovation Center Network, on the rationale behind the data storytelling solution he and his team are working on.

The purpose is to provide business users with short, animated “video data stories” about the key activities relevant to their individual roles.

Video Data Stories: The Smartest Way to Stay Updated

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Video Data Stories: The Smartest Way to Stay Updated

Eye-catching videos that are 10 to 15 seconds long will mean that users won’t have to refer to dashboards or wade through reports as they do today. Built-in templates for the most common business processes will enable anyone to create their own video data story and link it to their data sources. No design or programming experience is required.

The solution’s video data stories apply the same user experience principles as other content-sharing platforms. New videos are displayed in chronological order, and viewers can navigate easily through the different parts of a story or skip entire stories that are not relevant to them.

By incorporating animated visualizations, users can show changes in data over a specific time period dynamically. If more details are needed, they can point the audience to the right people and include links to the data sources and applications.

“One potential use case is sales reporting,” says Wittmann. Here, the solution has a predefined template that can be used to generate a personalized story for each sales accountant, showing how sales figures have changed over a defined period and including highlights and historical comparisons.

“Other information, such as headcount growth, quarterly earnings, and fact sheets for communications and sales, can also be shared through video storytelling in a far more compelling way than in PDF files or PowerPoint,” continues Wittmann.

The same applies to many of the e-mail notifications that land in our inboxes. Though not every notification needs a video data story. “It’s about finding the right balance,” notes Wittmann. “Instead of separate alerts for each event, you might receive a daily summary of the most important updates on a particular topic.”

In principle, video data stories can translate their insights into animated videos like those on Instagram. Users can decide for which events and applications video data stories are generated. “For some scenarios, daily or weekly updates are best. For others, it might be when a particular threshold is exceeded or when other kinds of exceptions occur,” explains Wittmann.

It is hard to imagine any department that would not benefit from this type of storytelling. Yet what might at first seem highly generic is in fact very individual.

“Right now, business software is clearly moving toward hyper-personalization,” says Wittmann. “That is why we want our video data stories to be used not just to share generic content but also to be tailorable to the individual viewer.”

Examples of personalized content could be team members’ birthdays and reports indicating how many of a manager’s direct reports have completed the latest compliance training.

“At the moment, we’re still defining the product,” says Wittmann. “We are working on a first version of an SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) service that can generate videos from different applications. We have also teamed up with colleagues from SAP Analytics Cloud to create an initial integration function for exporting video data stories directly from an analytics story.”

At SAP, Wittmann and his team have been working mainly with the Customer, Competitive, and Market Insights (CMI) team. In an early prototype, stories were generated weekly for a specific solution area to see which topics were seeing the most customer demand.

In another pilot project, the team is testing personalized video data stories for the sales organization. Here, account executives receive stories with updates on the specific customers they serve.

“We are really keen to trial the solution with customers to learn which use cases they might have, how they want to tell those stories, and where we can best integrate this capability,” says Wittmann.

To find out more about video data stories, get in touch with us at icn@sap.com.

Jeanette Rohr is a brand journalist at SAP.