Data Literacy

The workplace is constantly changing with every new advance in technology, and some trends don’t even last a year before being replaced by something newer. What’s been a constant, however, in the past few years and will continue to be important for our organizations, is the role of data. Data literacy is now more important than ever for organizations that need to pull information from data.

What is Data Literacy?

Data literacy is defined as the ability for someone to read, write, and communicate data, which includes knowing where data comes from, how to analyze it, and different techniques used to get value from data. It’s a critical skill for any digital organization because without understanding where data comes from, we cannot track data trends and communicate in one clear language. In a digital organization, all members are involved in speaking and understanding data.

For example, if a bank wants to create a model for machine learning to improve their process to approve loans, the data scientist will look at previous data on loans, but the loan officer will be able to figure out if there are data quality issues to help the data scientist.

The Importance of Data Literacy

Data literacy allows all employees of an organization to query data in the right way, make decisions based off that information, and share it with others that are data literate and illiterate alike. Having a data literate workforce means that businesses can be more competitive, have a higher bottom line, and eliminate organizational silos.

One recent statistic is that companies with data literacy as a core corporate quality have a 3 to 5% bigger corporate value. That can mean anything from $320 to $534 million. As Carl Drury, an HR manager at Speech Writing Service and Essay Writer explains, “for organizations to have strong corporate data literacy, every member must be data literate to make sure that the data in every step of the analysis and presentation process is both accurate and trustworthy. Otherwise, a company risks making a damaging decision based on incorrect data, costing them million of dollars potentially.”

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Data Literacy as a Survival Skill for Organizations

One could argue that data literacy is quickly becoming a skill that businesses must learn to survive in today’s corporate world. Employees who can effectively use data for business purposes will be leaders in corporations in the near future. There are currently a lot of regulations in place on data privacy and security which can make the task of data literate employees difficult. Accessing usable data in a secure way is hard to balance with the rapid need of organizations to bring it quickly to their consumers. Because of that, businesses should focus not only on improving their data literacy in their organization, but also enhancing how that data is managed to focus on effective access and protection of data.

What becomes important then for companies is their awareness of data, more than their literacy. Samantha Younger, a team leader at Do My Paper and Boom Essays, says that “employees should be aware of how data can improve organizations through training and education. This helps create an additional warning step for misuse or poor use of data.”

Data Literacy Challenges for Businesses

To remain competitive and ahead of the curve, all employees in the enterprise have to become data literate, but this is sadly not the case in many organizations. Studies show that there are still massive gaps between those in organizations who feel data literate and those who aren’t. These are the top five challenges to bringing data literacy to all members of an organization.

1. Resistance among the workforce.

There is always a big resistance to change in organizations, and a desire to cling to tradition and ‘the way it’s always been done.’ Organizations have to do more to raise awareness and educate their employees on the benefits of moving to a data-driven way of working.

2. Failure to select a data champion.

Every major initiative needs a champion, and data literacy is no different. Resistance can come from the top of an organization as much as from the bottom, so companies should consider appointing a data champion in the highest ranks, like a Chief Data Officer or Chief Analytics Officer.

3. No governance.

There are more data produced and consumed now than ever before, so organizations have to develop a governance structure for their data to oversee their process.

4. Insecurity

Over a fifth of young employees consider themselves less than average in confidence with data literacy. Businesses must build digital confidence in students when they enter the workforce.

5. Silos

Employees who are data literate are usually only in certain teams and isolated from the decision makers. It’s important to eliminate silos and create opportunities for teams to meet and discuss data learning.

By addressing these challenges, businesses can become more data literate and stay competitive in today’s data-driven world.

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