Data Literacy: Why Your Enterprise Needs It and How You Can Develop It

Businesses spend a lot of money on their future. We are entering into the next phase of the technological revolution and robotics, automated processes, and artificial intelligence are already being incorporated into everyday use. Most companies use data to drive their operations and make the most out of emerging technologies.

Also, in recent times, the coronavirus pandemic has sped up the rate at which organizations use new tools and processes, embracing digital transformation. However, even with all these tools and integration efforts, many businesses still struggle with their digital transformation goals and have trouble facing the future.

This is because despite all the focus on technology and tools, at its heart digital transformation is all about people and how they use the tech made available to them. There is no use in incorporating the latest technologies of the employees of the business who do not know how to leverage them properly.

The solution to this issue? Data literacy.

The lack of data literacy is the main barrier to successfully achieving digital transformation goals. Let’s take a quick look at what businesses can gain from employees well-versed in data literacy and how your company can adapt to it.

Data Literacy and Why It Matters

Let’s start by defining data literacy. According to educators and industry experts, data literacy is the ability to read, work with, analyze, and contend with data. In other words, it is the ability to properly communicate with data, effectively using data for favorable business actions and outcomes.

To derive meaning or value from data, one needs to understand what the data is saying. They also need to understand the context of the data and its source and construction to make informed decisions based on their findings.

The basis of data-driven decisions in a business are employees who can critically examine data and interpret the results accordingly. Besides this, they also need to identify unreliable pieces of data and use their judgment when analyzing information.

Data-driven businesses that produce data literate employees have a greater contribution to their roles and have a competitive edge in an evolving industry. Businesses need to take steps to educate their employees to become data literate. This is because organizations have to:

  • Communicate in a sort of data lingua franca for improved understanding of discussions about it
  • Identify unexpected operational issues and identify their root causes
  • Avoid making ill-informed decisions because of data misinterpretation

Factors Interfering With Data Literacy

The biggest barriers to data literacy end up being aspects of company culture and the mindset of the people working there. If executives and upper management don’t practice what they preach, it is unlikely that other employees will adopt a data-first approach. If the employees are unwilling to change and learn, it can be very difficult to utilize data literacy skills.

Sometimes the issue is with the data itself. Sometimes the data is collected properly. At other times the data is incorrectly stored or is saved in a format that is inaccessible to the employees. Moreover, the most important thing to remember is that data should be diverse and collected from various sources in order to be useful.

At the same time, a lack of training can also prevent people from becoming used to data and continue learning new data-related skills. If the staff does not know how to examine and evaluate data, how will they be able to create relevant insights and make data-based decisions?

How Businesses Can Improve Data-Literacy Among Employees

Here are a few ways how organizations can nurture data literacy in their workforce with little effort. 

One of the best and simplest ways that staff can start learning data quickly is by using it as often as possible.

Promoting a data-driven culture starts at the top. Leaders should discuss the company’s goals through metrics and dashboards to show the actual performance by the facts and figures. They should also reinforce these in their written and verbal communications

Senior members need to use data and show others how it can be done. Practice is one of the best teaching methods and simply using data every day will encourage team growth and allow employees to get the hang of things. Over time achieving team and larger business goals through the right use of data will be rewarding enough to incentivize employees to boost their data literacy skills.

This dependence on data makes it important for all levels of staff in a business to make quick and informed decisions based on these insights.

This means busting traditional silos across the organization, centralizing data for wider use and application, creating new and innovative solutions, and using APIs to make data accessible. 

Things like hackathons or proof-of-concept workshops should be arranged to encourage inquisitiveness, agility, collaboration, and innovation- the key features of any data-driven organization. These exercises stimulate the brain and promote creativity and team spirit within the workforce.

When relying on data-driven insights, business leaders should emphasize the value of data skills by providing free, accessible learning opportunities so employees can improve their data literacy.

Because digital transformation is an ongoing process, employee training has to integrate learning into mundane work and emphasize a growth mindset to change and adapt as technology changes. As a result, training should be quick, enjoyable, and relevant to the employees.

Wrapping Up

Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, so making sure that the people have the right skills is vital for business success. For these reasons, and all those outlined above businesses need to encourage the use of data in everyday processes, use data to lead the way to change, and encourage constant learning about data. Understanding the language of data will help businesses use the tools available to their fullest extent, making digital transformation much more achievable.

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