Data is everywhere and in every part of your business; however, data is often left for technical teams to figure out. In recent years, data has been prioritized in digital transformation efforts, with an increasing amount of businesses striving to be data-first. Hoping to leverage new tools, technologies and hiring data analysts and scientists are often overlooking one essential fact: data is for everyone, and every employee can benefit from acquiring data skills.
Businesses who leave skills out of the equation in their data transformation efforts are further widening their skill gaps. In fact, according to Accenture, 74% of employees report feeling overwhelmed when working with data. According to Deloitte, contributors aren’t the only ones; 67% of leaders say they are not comfortable accessing or using data. It’s time to change all of this.
Perhaps this anxiety and discomfort stem from businesses misunderstanding the role every employee has in leveraging data:
- Leaders set the vision and use data to ensure that they are making the right business decisions.
- Data practitioners solve complex problems with a blend of technical ability in analytics and data science.
- The broader organization uses data to understand impact, communicate results, and make decisions.
All roles can benefit from upskilling to shift mindsets, gain fluency, and build efficiencies across the business, with building literacy across the broader organization being the most urgent priority.
What does data literacy look like?
Data literacy is the ability to create, read, and analyze data, and then communicate that information and use it effectively. To do this, people must understand how data is collected, where it comes from, what it shows, how it can be used, and why it’s important.
Being data-literate means understanding:
- Data Culture
- Literacy Goal: Understanding the data lifecycle, data roles and responsibilities, and how data flows through an organization.
- Data Ethics & Privacy
- Literacy Goal: Explain why ethics and privacy are essential and understand the role each employee has to play.
- Data Visualizations
- Literacy Goal: Learn why common types of visualizations are chosen to promote certain comparisons and interpret the information.
- Literacy Goal: Describe data and spot trends in visualizations.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Literacy Goal: Identify opportunities to integrate AI and data science tools within your workflow.
Giving data skills to all employees will help businesses meet their loftiest data transformation goals. Training all employees comes with many benefits, such as higher decision quality and improved cross-functional communication. According to Deloitte, in companies where all employees train on analytics, 88% exceeded their business goals.
Five Ways to Build a Data-Literate Organization
1. Understand How Data is Being Used in Your Business
Shifting mindsets at the top of the org chart is essential to becoming a data-literate org. Being a role model for your employees helps build trust with your new skills — they will help you form a data-driven agenda. With the right skills, you’ll be able to prioritize projects with the most business impact. Data literacy also helps you effectively communicate with data practitioners within your organization and help focus your contributors on the data points that truly matter.
2. Define Preferred Data Usage in Your Business
Data is plentiful, so narrowing that data down to only the most essential points is imperative to success. Understand what data you wish to collect and track, how that data will be used, and what tools and skills are needed to leverage that data successfully.
3. Get Leadership Buy-in Across the Business
Getting buy-in from leaders across the business is essential to establishing a data-first culture. Any strategic initiative starts at the top, and leaders that understand the power of a strong data culture will be willing to make the tools, training, and people investments necessary to build one.
4. Create a Training Plan
Once you know what data you wish to use, consider which skills would be the most beneficial. Remember, everyone can benefit from training. We recommend building literacy skills where there are definite gaps among leaders and across the broader organization.
5. Put New Skills Into Practice
Your plan is in place! Now, give your teams learning opportunities and explain why these skills will matter to the business’s success.After training, provide team members opportunities to practice their new skills by giving them goals directly related to using, communicating with, and becoming more data-proficient.
Continue to offer learning opportunities for those employees who wish to advance past literacy and into hard skills. Consider upskilling your data practitioners to become more efficient.
In an era of increased digitization, many businesses still don’t know how to use data to gain critical insights and information on goals and objectives. From the intern to the C-suite, it’s more important than ever for all business members to create, read, analyze, and communicate data pertaining to these objectives. Data literacy at all levels can and should be encouraged to future proof the organization and support overall business goals. Investing in upskilling to ensure that everyone is comfortable bringing data to the table has ROIs well beyond cost.
Thinking about building your teams’ data literacy? Learn more about how our data curriculum can help your business make this powerful pivot.