How to Bridge the Gap of Data Literacy

Data Literacy of the employees has always played a crucial role in the growth and success of an organization and today, in this new virtual world, it has proven to be more important than ever.

Companies in every sector are collecting more data than ever. Retailers micro-inspect the history of transactions, airlines calculate whether flights are on time and monitor just about every call, email and interaction. What is the use of all this huge amount of data? Organizations should find out how to best meet customer expectations, develop their infrastructure and operations and make smart decisions about the talent they are recruiting.

But this where data literacy, or rather lack of it comes into play. A company might have the best data tools and resources in their organization, but it’s all a waste till the time the employees are unable to fully leverage those vital business resources to their business advantage. Even if your database is huge enough, you need to know how to make sense of the data and interpret it.  Organization’s that are unable to boost the data literacy of their employees, are often left behind in the race.

Data literacy challenges being faced by organizations

  • Resistance to transform from the traditional system

Organizations are built on years of tradition and specific ways of functioning. Employees become comfortable in their day to day tasks and are largely resistant to any sort of change as they fear it can cause more trouble to adapt. Hence it is essential to raise awareness about moving to a data driven organization and the importance of it.

  • Lack of a data lead at management level

A digital transformation decision has to be initiated from the management, and a lot of times the resistance comes from the management side as well wherein such decisions and changes are put on the back seat. It is advisable that with the likes of CFO, CMO, CHRO, we have a CAO (Chief Analytics Officer) to manage all data driven decisions and transformations in the business.

  • Job insecurity

When it comes to use of technology, employees consider themselves under confident and take time to adapt to technology. They fear a loss of their positions if the business is shifted digitally. Organizations should look to recruit new generation tech savvy workforce to grow the organization digitally as well as train and motivate the others. Fresh minds are needed to bring the change that is required.

  • Organizational Silos

What often happens is that data literate employees join the IT, Business Intelligence or analytics department and are often isolated from other processes, and do not have any say in the decision making based on their analysis. Whereas you are not making complete use of that resource if you are not taking decisions based on the interpretation of the analysis. At the end of the day, using a tool is important but being able to make sense of the data to be able to take decisions is what matters the most. A knowledge sharing group can be useful for the business to pass on the skills with other departments.

How to promote data literacy in your organization

  • First and foremost, you need to analyse and assess the existing data literacy of your organization. Once you identify the gap, you can plan the next steps to improve data literacy
  • Identify fluent data speakers and intermediates between them and other business groups. Not only do you need data analysts who are adept at speaking naturally about data, but you also need to have “translators” who can bridge the gap and mediate between the data analysts and business groups. Also, identify where communication barriers are preventing data from being used to its full business potential.
  • Spread awareness about the importance of data literacy. You need to address questions like, “Why do we need the change?”, “How would it improve the business?”, etc.
  • Create a data literacy program. It does not have to be too vast at once, you can start in small steps. You can launch the program internally or take help from an external organization. For example, Qlik has just launched its 6-step data literacy program.
  • Lead by example. The leaders of the organization first need to adopt the change so others can follow suit. Your organization’s leaders need to prioritize data analysis in their own work and show the rest of the company the importance the team places on making decisions using data and supporting everyday operations. Insist on backuping all plans for new goods or services with appropriate data and analytics to help such ideas. With the passing of time, this data focus would build a data-first community.

Just remember, becoming data literate does not happen overnight. Every organization should start working towards data literacy if they haven’t yet as this is what the future holds.

At the same time, students and job seekers should build their skills to become more data literate for tomorrow’s job!

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