While there are many ways to define data literacy, it suffices to say that it is essentially the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, such that one can analyse, work with, and understand its business application.
Although increasing amounts of data are vastly helping organisations predict and control its next move, it has created new strategic challenges for growing businesses. This is because such a great reliance on data necessitates that everyone across departments is data literate. This can be illustrated with an example:-
Imagine an organisation where every team spoke a different language, and there was no common medium to converse in. If no one outside the department understands what is being said, it would be impossible to communicate business value and bring everyone on board on why specific technologies matter. This is how a data-driven business would function without data literacy.
Unfortunately, as much as 50% organisations lack sufficient AI and data literacy skills to successfully derive value from data. These companies will struggle to match the performance of their data-savvy competitors who have made it a core competency in their organisations.
With businesses becoming more data-driven, the basic ability to understand conversations about data and “speak data” as a common language could become a prerequisite. Regardless of where your organisation falls on the scale of data literacy, here are five ways to foster a data-driven culture across your organisation:-
Conduct Data Literacy Assessment
To begin with, conduct tests to assess the current state of data literacy across each department of your organisation. This will lay the groundwork for the next steps by outlining the different levels of data literacy and help draw a plan for fostering it across the board.
You can take a free assessment here, the outcome of which will govern the next steps.
Make It A Core Business Issue
The challenge in most organisations is that employees do not often understand the value data and analytics can bring to their businesses. Thus, the importance of data as valuable organisational assets should be drilled in all employees. Furthermore, they should be able to understand how to use this information relevant to their role.
This means that lack of data literacy should be positioned as not just a technical issue, but a larger business one as well. A good start for an organization to help its employees create information-driven mindsets is by clarifying why their data matters and how it is being used.
Educate & Train Your Employees
Against this backdrop, identify a common data language and educate your employees on the same. This includes training them on how to use data to improve the performance of the organisation. One way of doing this is by creating a formal data literacy program. Such a program would deepen learning across the organisation and empower employees as they cycle through the program.
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However, be sure to start small and understand the size and focus of your business when choosing these programs. But first and foremost, acknowledge the fact that data literacy cannot be achieved overnight. Time and patience should be afforded to the non-technical teams.
Expand Access To Data
Once privy to a handful of executives in an organisation, the accelerating pace at which data is generated is seeing a shift in this model. Today, data is largely democratised such that more employees have greater access to it whereby they can draw insights of their own from it.
This helps companies keep a competitive edge by deeply exploring the ever-growing number of reports and discovering promising insights from these. Sharing data with a broader audience will also quickly filter out content that is valuable and help weave a clear narrative around the findings.
However, access to data that is sensitive should still be restricted. This will ensure that the integrity of your organisation is maintained and that confidential data will not be mishandled.
Starting a data literacy initiative may feel like a herculean task, but the payoffs will make it worthwhile. If implemented successfully, it will bring about a cultural and mindset shift, whereby organisations can improve their functions and uncover future opportunities.
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Anu is a writer who stews in existential angst and actively seeks what’s broken. Lover of avant-garde films and BoJack Horseman fan theories, she has previously worked for Economic Times. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org