Remember when you were a kid, and someone showed you a magic trick? Maybe it was an elaborate stage trick or a simple sleight-of-hand card trick, but you were mesmerized. What happened when you grew up? Sure the magic disappeared, but you also discovered that you could learn to do these tricks just like those magicians. That’s good news.

Data is similar to those tricks you saw as a child. You can pull data insights out of a hat just like a rabbit, but you need the right process, the right prep, and a bit of understanding for how it all works together. Let’s see what it takes to put on your greatest show and turn anything into data you can transform. We’re revealing all our magician’s secrets.

Magician doing his “data” magic tricks

Transform Anything Into Data

With a wave of your wand, you can turn anything into data. It’s true! Operating with data may seem like magic, but you can customize the input to create your own unique business insights. Anything real can be turned into data.

The whole world that we perceive offers potential raw data to power our business insights. The greatest trick a business can perform is transforming data into insights just like a magician transforms a rabbit into a bouquet of colorful flowers.

Setting the stage

All great magicians start with the right preparation. No one jumps directly into sawing a lady in half on their first try. Maybe it’s making a coin appear or “reading” which card the participant in the deck.

Data starts with the right elements.

  • Quality: A terrible deck of cards won’t do for an epic card trick, and poor quality data can ruin the illusion entirely.
  • Process: The data pipeline is like your redirection method in a magic trick. You need to have a solid plan to fool your participant’s eye, or the trick will fall apart. You need a reliable pipeline to transform data.
  • Scale: Once you master your first card trick, you’ll want to do more—maybe it’s something bigger, more complicated, or more involved. Similarly, your data pipeline should scale as you get better at transforming data into real insights.

The pipeline is a lot like your magician’s hat. Once you have the right materials and the process, you can put data into your “hat” and pull out something entirely different—insight and business value.

an enthusiastic team

Choosing your magic team

Magicians need assistance to pull off some of their greatest tricks. Some use their own assistants who are familiar with the show and know each step by heart. Others pull support from the audience as they need but typically work alone. Still, others use a combination of in-house support and audience participation to pull off their illusions.

Magician’s Assistants: Your in-house data team

Enterprises and large companies often choose to hire in-house data experts to run their magical acts. These are full-time departments with the expertise in turning data into something the business can use to make decisions.

Audience participation: Your third party data experts

Smaller companies or those with little experience in tech and data may choose to outsource assistance to third-party participants. These participants are ready to jump in wherever they’re needed, and they quickly become a necessary part of the magic show.

Combining both types

As data becomes more fluid, some companies are using a combination of magic assistants and audience participation to create their own customized data magic team. These teams can handle the tools and provide flexibility.

Finally, putting on the show

Now that you have all the right elements of your data magic show, it’s time to show everyone that you can pull off the most incredible magic show of all.

magic trick with cards

1. Measure the right things

Data magic requires precision. You must decide in advance what the most important insights are and which bring the most return. You wouldn’t want to perform a card trick in a large auditorium because the audience is there for something dramatic. And a disappearing illusion wouldn’t work in close quarters because it’s too challenging to maneuver. Your data strategy should be the right fit for your company’s needs, i.e., the ones that add value.

2. Optimize your system

A magic show is more than just the tricks. It also involves the lighting, the order, and the venue. These little details nail down to create an unforgettable experience that audience members feel was worth their time.

Data pipelines, frameworks, and systems are an essential part of ensuring that your magic show wows the right people. Choose your software wisely, and the entire show will come together.

3. Keep context in mind

The context of your data is vital to understanding how to transform it. The context helps you build and execute a data strategy with a magician’s sleight-of-hand and the flair of the great illusionists. Context provides meaning, and so you always end up with exactly the right card in the trick.

Context also prevents data magic from taking a wrong turn. Magic tricks are rehearsed and debuted in exactly the right circumstances to ensure that the participant is enchanted. Context ensures that your data magic has the impact you intend.

4. Use clear visualization

The look of the magician is almost as critical as the trick itself. For a spectacular show, the magician chooses an outfit with flair that catches the eye of even the seats furthest away. For street magic, the unassuming look of the magician can help the illusion land with even more impact.

Data visualizations are the big reveal in your data strategy. You’ve put your strategy together and know who’s on your team. Now, it’s time to execute your data magic trick with flair and present it in a way that makes the outcome clear and welcome to your audience.

magic trick with cards

Becoming a data magician

Data isn’t magic, but it can appear that way by setting the stage and designing the performance. You can transform anything into data, allowing you to set up and perform a trick that will have the boardroom declaring you the greatest illusionist they’ve ever seen.

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