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Data literacy: A key pillar in company growth

Data literacy: A key pillar in company growth

“What oil was to the industrial age, data is to the information age. It fuels the digital economy.” Time magazine is spot on with this assessment of data’s pivot role in modern business.

To ensure sustainable growth, businesses need to have a handle on their data. Leaders can create the necessary infrastructure by including four strategic pillars in their planning.

Organisational data literacy is the first of these pillars. Together with data management, analytics and education, your business will be ready to reap all the rewards of your data!

Image courtesy of Bitmetric BV

Image courtesy of Bitmetric BV

Let’s explore these four pillars in more detail.

Pillar 1: Organisational data literacy

This pillar pertains to the human aspect of data literacy and how it affects a business’ future. Since everyone has different levels of exposure to data, their level of comfort working with data – from execs to administrators – will vary. It’s important to support their data literacy journey through learning and development and by focusing on the small wins they achieve along the way.

Data literacy is something that applies to the whole organisation. The more people that can analyse, work with and utilise data in their daily roles, the better company-wide decisions become.

But your business needs to be ready! Here are a few components you’ll need:

  • Leadership – it’s essential that your organisation has an evangelist that champions data literacy, continually inspiring and supporting a data literate culture.
  • Data literacy sponsorship – the capital for projects, plans, and communication.
  • Assessments – the capacity to develop and assess employees’ data literacy progress.
  • Aligned goals – are your organisational and data literacy goals aligned?

To maintain and grow your organisation, safeguard your employees, and make sure you’re equipped for the future, you need to champion data literacy from the top down and from the bottom up. What will your business get out of it? The ability to measure and improve on your company goals, maximise the value of your data and maintain a competitive advantage.

Pillar 2: Data management

According to TechTarget, data management is about effectively “ingesting, storing, organising and maintaining the data created and collected by an organisation.” And this ties in with data literacy, as organisations need to provide access to the right data at the right time for effective analysis.

Aligning your organisational and data literacy goals has a direct impact on data management. When do you know you’ve got the mix right? Well, Qlik’s CEO, Mike Capone, says: “Winners in the data-driven business world will have this alignment, getting the right information into the right hands at the right time to impact decisions while keeping data safe and well managed.”

Bear in mind that when your organisational goals are clear, it becomes easier to form your data strategy and embrace data management.Think about including data literacy training for every new hire. By boosting data literacy that way, you also increase the value and flow of the data company-wide.

Pillar 3: Analytics

Along with the skills to effectively work with data, employees also need the right analytics tools to analyse graphs, tables and other dashboarding components.

Visualising your data is a great way to simplify analysis, and make it engaging for a broader audience. We agree with Towards Data Science Inc that making data interesting and accessible to everyone:

“Data viz practitioners need to go a step beyond data literacy in order to keep advancing the field. We need to be obsessed with things like color theory, the feelings of certain shapes, the reading patterns of web users and the spreading sense of data fatigue among end users. Visual literacy is one way to think about this essential set of skills. It’s the way we keep data visualization interesting, exciting and accessible for everyone.”

With Vizlib’s value-added product for Qlik Sense, your employees have an intuitive, feature-rich solution to steer everyone to actionable insights.

Pillar 4: Education

The final pillar is education. This component could include internal resources, such as data literacy workshops, sharing and rewarding best practices, and external sources, like online courses. You’ll also need to consider different learning methods, such as self-service learning, role-based learning, peer mentoring, or a combination.

There are fantastic data literacy training and assessment resources available online, one of these being The Data Literacy Project.

When it comes to product-based training, Angelika Klidas, Operations Manager at Bitmetric (and a keen data literacy champion), suggests that:

“Creating hands-on training in both Qlik dashboards and basic data analysis principles will ensure a basic level of competence. Its good to start with the basics – learning to analyse and use the full potential of Qlik Sense. Then extend on that competence by using real-world examples. Help your staff to learn which questions to ask of the data so that they can improve their work.”

Here are a few tips to guide data literacy development:

  • Ensure learners know how to ask the right questions
  • Do they understand what data is relevant and how to test data validity?
  • Can they correctly interpret the data, so the results are accurate and useful?
  • Show them how to test hypotheses using A/B tests to see what options work best
  • Explore the benefits of creating simple visualisations, so the results are accessible to leaders and all data skill levels
  • Demonstrate how to tell a story to help decision-makers see the big picture and act on the results of the analysis

Maintaining healthy organisational growth begins by focusing on every employee, and ensuring they feel confident and curious about data. As each person grows in their personal data literacy journey, so does the business!

Want to learn more? Download our Data Literacy guide: How to make data every employee’s friend.