Building Data Literacy in the Workplace

Posted by Maria Katrina dela Cruz

Oct 26, 2022 2:45:00 PM

Do you have the right people to get your data-driven initiatives moving?  

The peak of the digital age catalyzed the emergence of data analytics to greater heights. But without the knowledge and expertise of data professionals, there’s a risk for your enterprise to falter.  

discussing what is data literacy and embedding it to the team
Data is everywhere — it grew to be a universal element that encompasses businesses, work and other relevant aspects of what people do. It transformed from a basic unit of business to a crucial piece of how C-level executives drive positive business outcomes.  

Needless to say, it created a necessity for employees to become affluent with data and analytics, or what we call data literate.  

What is data literacy? 

Gartner puts data literacy as the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, with an understanding of the data sources and constructs... and the ability to describe the use case application and resulting business value or outcome.  

To put it simply, having this skill is a proactive approach that enables and empowers a data-oriented workplace. Fostering data literacy also means having unfettered access to data so people can exercise their prowess in giving meaningful insights, making decisions based on data and communicating it across the organization. 

Why is data literacy important? 

It’s clear that data’s dominant presence in all aspects of business emphasized the need to be data literate. The sheer volume it generates is solely the biggest reason why a certain level of awareness and understanding is required from the workforce. And from here, they can start building insights and meaningful conversations. 

Building this competency reinforces the employee’s dexterity in harnessing the powers of both technology and data, thus bringing actual value to the table.  

However, some executives are still on the fence about the capacity of data and analytics to aid them in hitting their business goals. 

  1. A massive cultural shift (such as this) takes time. Issues such as employee resistance and lack of action can deter the data-driven initiative you’re cultivating.
     
  2. There’s also an increasing scarcity of professionals who do not possess the right data and analytical expertise to pursue the project. Data literacy is facing an intrinsic pressure of filling the existing skills gap.
     
  3. Glacial progress in this area is an indication that impediments persist and are given no resolution. This amplifies the need for more resources and funding in the data literacy facet of the company.
     
  4. The lack of governance is also an important factor here. Data governance gives the security that data and insights are properly managed for the achievement of business goals. Without it, you may wind up with low-quality data.
     
  5. Proficiency in data is mostly confined within IT teams because of its nature, but if you want to transition into a data-led company, you need to break such departmental silos. There should be an avenue where these data-literate employees can cascade their knowledge to other employees, thus boosting your efforts in honing the skillset within the team. 

How to build data literacy 

Accenture’s survey revealed that only 25% of employees believe that they are fully prepared to utilize data and only 21% are confident with their data literacy skills. Company leaders need to overcome any barriers to fully maximize the gains from data.  

Fortunately, there are various ways to go about this.  

  • Establishing a data literacy program 

One surefire way to nurture data confidence among employees is by developing new skills.  

Continuous and consistent training [relative to data and analytics] embeds a culture of learning in the corporate environment and gradually becomes a part of it. Workshops are also a great addition to this step, as employees are provided with first-hand experience to apply what they learned not only during the training, but what they gathered from their colleagues or through on-the-job practice. 

Related: 7 In-Demand Data Analytics Certifications to Take Right Now 

But remember that data literacy levels are not the same for all employees. The training they receive should be apt with the role they have in the company. Make sure that the learning path you make is flexible enough to accommodate your people’s pace.   

  • Talk data  

Data is the new language of business today.  

As it becomes a pervasive element across organizational departments, knowing how to speak data grows to be imperative. Employees are encouraged to do so by actively engaging in conversations that tackle data, as it impacts their jobs significantly now more than ever. 

  • Quantify business success to data literacy 

Key executives' buy-in can be secured if business goals are achieved through the shift to a data-oriented culture. There needs to be a clear relationship between the business outcome and the literacy training, and it should have the evidence to support that the training really made an impact in reaching a particular objective. 

  • Trust your people 

Hone your team by letting them make decisions. These may not be crucial or management-level ones, but entrusting them to deliberate matters that have an impact is a good exercise for them to make a judgment based on the available data.  

When your people are equipped with the appropriate knowledge level, they are empowered to address any question or make necessary decisions. To add, it also results to higher productivity and accelerating growth because of the confidence they get from data and insights. 

  • Lead the way 

A key component of how to improve data literacy is the support it receives from the company leaders. The top executives need to be actively participating in the initiative for it to be successfully implemented from the management all the way to the front-end employees. 

Aside from that, it’s also a good idea to democratize the approach by improving access to data. With this system, employees can harness data and fully use it to fulfill their roles. 

 

Understanding data literacy — what it is and how it’s developed — is a stepping stone to fully integrating it within your organization. Augmenting it with education, support and necessary tools, you can build your momentum towards a fully data-literate workplace and works towards maintaining it for the long haul.  

D&V Philippines delivers top-notch business analysis and reporting services to CFOs, businesses and professional services firms. We have in-house analysts who have wide expertise in handling your data and help you use it for your leverage. Download and read our guide The Rising Frontier: Harnessing The Power Of Business Analytics to know more about data analytics in business or schedule a free consultation with us to discuss how we can be of better service. 

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