According to this article, " Data can tell us ‘what’, but not ‘why’. This is the message presented by Prof Bart Rienties, professor of learning analytics at The Open University (OU)." I think he's presenting a narrow view of 'data' as (say) the statistics we get from on learning analytics. Data tells us not only 'what', but also 'why', 'when', 'how much', and 'who cares'. But it's all data - the statistics, the conversations, the interpretations, the explanations. I think he is conflating explaining (which is what answers why-questions) and massaging (to help 'shape the narrative' by going beyond the data, or should I say, inserting opinion in place of data). That's why he says, "Understanding what data is useful to improve services and inform decision-making was important... but having the opportunity to discuss the context was key."