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5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Data Literacy Skills

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Read more about author Nahla Davies.

Building and maintaining a data-driven business is the only way to ensure your long-term success in today’s increasingly digital commerce landscape. This involves more than just hiring a team of IT professionals or buying the latest data analytics tools – it requires improving your employees’ Data Literacy skills as well.

Data-driven organizations must capture time-bound opportunities effectively, deliver customer-centric experiences, and optimize operations beyond the traditional benchmarks for success. While these may seem like goals common to all businesses, the truth is that a whopping 87.5% of companies have low data analytics and business intelligence (BI) maturity. They have no idea how to use spreadsheet-based analysis and opportunistic business intelligence for stand-alone projects.

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One of the most significant challenges for organizations that want to embrace data analytics power is getting employees on board and willing to appropriately leverage BI solutions. They should have adequate Data Literacy skills to comprehend and leverage the data in their routine work life. Developing and honing these skills is mission-critical and a prerequisite to establishing and promoting a data-driven culture.

Why Is Data Literacy Crucial for Businesses?

Data Literacy allows employees and teams to read, assess, and leverage data and communicate the conclusions to relevant stakeholders. It lets managers and decision-makers utilize available information for challenges, delivering business value in real time.

Even though the analytics and business intelligence markets are multibillion-dollar industries, about 50% of the companies still can’t derive insights from BI tools because of inadequate Data Literacy skills. This makes it challenging to optimize, automate, and digitalize operations or support cross-channel coherence, resulting in business failure. 

This also means the incapability of your teams and decision-making leaders to:

  • Capitalize on and identify the market trends
  • Recognize areas to optimize your operations/processes for both your customers and workforce
  • Discover new streams of revenue 
  • Work more efficiently and collaboratively with data
  • Create new products and innovate ahead

Therefore, Data Literacy is a foundational tenet of a data-driven culture, enabling ground staff and business leaders to make well-informed decisions. By establishing and strengthening Data Literacy skills among your employees and fostering a data-driven culture, you can help your team deliver enhanced customer experiences while making precise predictions. 

How to Improve Your Data Literacy Skills

Establishing a Data Literacy plan that’s lasting and effective is imperative. Here are some viable ways to refine your Data Literacy capabilities:

1. Establish Your Data Literacy Baseline

An Accenture survey reported that out of more than 9,000 employees across multiple roles, an astounding 79% were not self-assured in their Data Literacy abilities. That is why it is essential to audit your employees and teams to understand their data skills. 

However, it’s critical to remember that not all job titles demand the same Data Literacy level to accomplish analytics effectively. For instance, the decision leader or a department head typically requires high Data Literacy to work with data scientists and analysts and advise on the advancement of predictive models.

In contrast, ground staff at retail stores would merely need the relevant data queries to gain insights in real time, sell higher-margin commodities, or estimate orders to keep the shelves well-stocked.

To evaluate your employees, you can ask them to take online tests. The results will be your starting point and help determine the course of action.

2. Define Your Business Goals to Map a Proper Plan

Once you create a baseline for your organization’s literacy level, outline your business-related goals and chart your expectations of where you and your staff should be vis-à-vis Data Literacy.

For instance, if your objective is to leverage data for optimizing revenue generation, you need to outline the following:

  • The respective departments that are involved, such as marketing and sales
  • The leaders/influencers who’ll require advanced data competencies
  • The ground-level employees who need a working knowledge of data analytics
  • A time frame for adoption to get familiarized and run mini projects and data trials

When you lead, you can efficiently and systematically direct your people to bridge the Data Literacy gap and score wins in the journey. This enables you to keep the motivation and accountability level high as you create business value and hit key performance indicators.

3. Develop Individualized Data Literacy Plans 

Improving Data Literacy comprises various skills, including:

  • Collating and assessing data
  • Data-driven thinking and inquiry
  • Managing data
  • Leveraging analytical tools and Data Management
  • Data communication

The key here is to effectively incorporate Data Literacy into your teams and employees’ work and weave it into the company culture. 

Moreover, you can also launch cross-departmental training programs to help your teams develop a holistic outlook of how the company harnesses data. This also enables them to absorb and learn new frameworks without interrupting the essential skills they need to develop.

When creating training plans, make sure to include information about data security. Your employees should learn the basics of recognizing whether data has been breached and manipulated by malicious third parties. Tools like Visualping help detect unauthorized changes on your company’s website and alert the relevant team members. 

4. Leverage a Viable BI Solution for Seamless Adoption

A significant barrier to greater literacy skills is the technical expertise of your staff in gauging data to derive valuable insights. Although you can impart soft skills like data communication among employees with time, not everyone can work in overly complex business intelligence solutions.

However, you can quickly solve this data democratization challenge by leveraging a robust business intelligence solution driven by conversational analytics. These platforms let you indulge in conversational queries for your data directly, irrespective of the location or format, and gain insights instantly.

This makes it possible for your staff to reduce the time required to hone their Data Literacy skills, from arranging the cumbersome BI dashboards to figuring out the appropriate terms for data communication.

5. Encourage and Incentivize Data Usage

While improving your Data Literacy skills in online courses and remote classes is a great start, these may offer limited effectiveness if you cannot apply those lessons in real-life scenarios.

A viable way to ensure and continue to foster the Data Literacy culture is by incentivizing data use throughout your team’s routine work.

For instance, every project or group discussion must involve data-driven insights where people present them as visualizations with the help of BI solutions.

Another way is to enable your employees to leverage their newfound skills related to Data Literacy to come up with solutions. This helps them and the community – for example, by utilizing insights to allow people with their career development.

However, more importantly, it is imperative to ensure that you don’t discourage the employees from making slip-ups when they embark on this literacy journey. A trial-and-error framework coupled with evaluations must be integrated frequently to identify weak areas and learn from them.

Wrapping Up

Data Literacy allows your teams to be more successful and productive in their roles, making cross-functional collaboration easier and more impactful. There are numerous ways to empower employees to get better at navigating the intricacy of the data world.

However, the most crucial aspect is ensuring that your organization emphasizes Data Literacy skills as a valuable and practical one across all stages. This may mean allocating particular periods for different departments to encourage learning and rewarding individuals who are leveling up and improving their skills. 

Above all, continuous reinforcement and learning are critical to improving Data Literacy skills, so ensure that your company leverages the power of data tools and platforms via skill-building plans.

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