The Future of Data Literacy

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There was a time when only the elite, tech-savvy staff in an organization understood and felt qualified to discuss data-enabled business decisions. These individuals often possessed advanced academic degrees in Data Science, data engineering, statistics, operations research and other allied fields and did not speak the language of the ordinary business staff. As a result, a serious communication gap or miscommunication between the data technology personnel and others within the organization.

According to Bernard Marr, a reputed name in the field of Data Science:

“Even though spending on big data and analytics products is supposed to surpass $200 million by 2020 according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), 50% of organizations will still lack the Data Literacy and AI skills to achieve business value.”

The elite Data Science team members were so far removed in their knowledge and expertise from the rest that in spite of investing in the best technologies, tools, and technical personnel, businesses failed to retrieve the desired outcomes from their in-house, Data Science infrastructures. In today’s businesses, the article Data Literacy: Closing the Gap and Opening Up New Business Opportunities states that the more a business staff is data literate, the more they can contribute in the workplace.

Businesses, after years of trial-and-error methods, have realized that the deficiencies are not in the IT infrastructure, in implemented technologies, or in the limited number of data scientists, but in the absence of a common “medium of communication” between super-technical staff and the business staff.

Data Literacy, very simply put, is a recent attempt to bring all organizational staff to a minimum level of understanding where they can “read, write, and communicate data” to understand and interpret data-driven business outcomes with ease. Gartner defines Data Literacy “as the ability to read, write and communicate data in context.” The whole objective of Data Literacy is to remove the communication barriers between the Data Science and non-Data Science staff.

Unless Data Literacy has taken place within each organization or business outfit, the majority of the business personnel will fail to use the data resources they have access to in their day-to-day work. Today, it is common to find data strategists or advisors guiding their employers on which Data Literacy programs to implement in their businesses.

Review Marr’s view on Why Is Data Literacy Important For Any Business? Marr reemphasizes that only when business staff members become data literate, will they be able to extract “meaning and actionable insights” from numbers.

Data Literacy Can Boost Business Performance in 2021

Gartner’s A Data and Analytics Leader’s Guide to Data Literacy comments that data experts must spearhead workforce Data Literacy and “treat information as a second language.” As data continues to become the core organizational asset, all employees should have the “basic ability to communicate and understand conversations about data.” So, Data Literacy is now the latest item in the business competency skill set. The Gartner Annual Chief Data Officer Survey states that lack of organizational Data Literacy is one of the major roadblocks to data-driven success.

The Importance of Data Literacy in the Workplace states that according to the Global Data Literacy Report, 78% of employees are interested in improving their data skills. The other significant trend is the growth of Data Literacy consultancy services that offer both training and data consultancy services.

The Human Impact of Data Literacy Report, based on a joint study by Accenture and Qlik, reveals that a mere 21% of global workforce feel confident about their Data Literacy skills. All these findings point to the urgent need for developing data-literate workers for our business future.

Gartner Offers Practical Advice on Enhancing Data Literacy

The sudden rise of business attention and focus on Data Literacy signals an era of enterprise-wide training programs for converting businesses into data literate organizations. In Getting Started with Data Literacy, Gartner Analysts Valerie Logan and Alan D. Duncan state there is a critical need for Data Literacy in digital businesses. This Gartner Report answers the following questions surrounding Data Literacy programs:

  • How will a particular Data Literacy program fit within the overall organizational data practice, “roles, and competencies?”
  • Where can organizations find examples of good and bad Data Literacy?
  • How to build business cases for Data Literacy, and how to begin?
  • How to conceptualize, design, and, build an effective training program for Data Literacy?
  • How to use existing resources for building the planned Data Literacy program?

Data is so important to modern enterprises that leading companies like Guardian Insurance, Bloomberg, and Adobe now built their own Digital and Data Academies teaching all employees the basics of data analysis. Boost Your Team’s Data Literacy describes how different businesses are building their internal Data Literacy initiatives for future success.

The Road to the Future: Data Literacy Enabled Businesses

When computers arrived on business desktops for the first time, the majority of the staff did not have a clue what to do with those staring screens, keyboards, or the mouse. The fear of using computers at work gradually disappeared and the mainstream workers happily embraced the computer-enabled work routine after some training and practical experience.

Similarly, the business staff who may now be a little apprehensive or uncertain about learning data analysis will soon understand the benefits and values of “data” through an effective Data Literacy program.

 Road to the Future Paved with Data Literacy assures that Data Literacy will one day become an “integral part of the day-to-day working knowledge of many employees.” The author believes that data scientists are spearheading a “revolution toward widespread Data Literacy in the workplace.”

With Nate Silver becoming an overnight celebrity by moving from The New York Times to ESPN and ABC, there is a strong indication that data-centric, executive roles are the future of global businesses.

Data Literacy Will Be a Critical Skill for Future Workforce

Recently, the pandemic gave huge impetus to digital transformation of global businesses. More and more, employers will require their new employees to be data literate in order to perform in a data-driven, business environment. In the modern business world, Data Literacy will soon become a basic workplace requirement.

Feeling the business pulse, academic campuses are now offering training in Data Literacy. The HAN University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands has started providing practical training in Data Literacy and data analytics. Now, especially with recessions looming over large parts of the globe, employers should be eager to implement and execute Data Literacy training programs with minimal cost impacts but huge future benefits.

The future employment market will certainly demand that both new entrants and experienced candidates have demonstrated Data Literacy skills, without which they will not be successful in any business role. Data skills, in the near future, will separate the “fit” from the “unfit” candidates. Review what the author of Data Literacy is Critical for the Future Workforce thinks.

From Data to Insights: Building Critical Thinking Skills

Many data scientists, business leaders, and social thinkers have jointly devoted many hours of planning, hard work, and developmental efforts in stimulating a data-literate mindset among business employees. Data Literacy, most experts believe, is deeply connected to critical thinking.

The KD Nugget post Data Literacy: Using the Socratic Method reveals an interesting approach to developing critical thinking skills among students and new-generation employees. The Socratic Method helps stimulate critical thinking by examining data together to extract meaningful insights. Now the general data enthusiasts will have a golden opportunity to explore what data scientists have been doing for years.

In Language Lessons for Data-Driven Decisions Achieving Data Literacy, Emma Warrillow of Data Insight Group Inc, states:

“Data literate individuals can ask and answer relevant questions using data, interpret, understand, and question the results of data analysis, and put these results into the context of the organization’s larger strategy and objectives.”

She further comments that Gartner has already predicted that 80% of organizations will realize that the above workplace competency is missing, and initiate appropriate competency development programs for Data Literacy by 2020.

The Future of Data Literacy as a Service

It’s inevitable. With data culture rapidly gaining momentum throughout global businesses of all shapes and sizes, it is only a matter of time that Data Literacy will be offered as a service to businesses not equipped with data-literate staff or in-house data infrastructures. More and more, third-party service providers will start offering “actionable insights” to help businesses move forward without internal data-powered teams. In this context, remember to read through Qlik Launches Data Literacy Consulting: Why Data Literacy Is Vital in 2020.

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