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A Guide to Promoting Good Data Literacy

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DataQuest – by Srinivas Reddy

A Guide to Promoting Good Data Literacy

Digital business requires organizations to ‘speak data,’’ and good data literacy empowers them. Data is a crucial asset in today's AI-driven world. According to IDC's FutureScape 2024 research, companies are gearing up to invest more in data assets, but is that enough? While companies widely acknowledge the importance of becoming insights-driven, many struggle to make it happen. It's not because of the scarcity of data or tools, as there aren’t any, but because having loads of data won't automatically translate into success. The real challenge lies in leveraging data insights for impactful business decisions. This is where data literacy comes into play. In this respect, certain foundational aspects can guide enterprises in promoting good data literacy.

Building the case for data literacy through a mindset shift

Data literacy isn't just a skill-based investment. It's a strategic necessity for thriving in today's digital landscape, and promoting good data literacy begins with a revolutionary mindset shift. A recent NewVantage Partner survey reveals that 91.9% of executives find culture as a primary obstacle to data-driven success. To counter this hurdle, we first need to change how we think about data.

Leaders must reimagine data as a new ‘core capability’ steering how a company competes, innovates, and operates. The key point supporting this mindset shift lies in realizing that data-driven decision-making can lead to gaining a competitive edge and unlock future possibilities in an evolving digital era.

Data literacy program

Empowering your workforce with the right skills is fundamental to establishing data as a language. According to the latest Gartner survey only 44% of data and analytics leaders feel confident in their teams’ abilities. An effective data literacy program can bridge this gap, but crafting a successful data literacy program goes beyond technical training and analytical skills. It demands a strategic approach.

Tailoring training programs to individual roles and domains is imperative to ensure every team member has the skills they need to thrive. However, it doesn’t stop there. The teaching methodologies used in a data literacy program also need to evolve because data can be complex and abstract, making traditional methods ineffective. Incorporating storytelling as a teaching technique can bring data to life. It makes data more understandable for everyone by contextualizing it in a relatable manner, facilitating increased grasping and retention of complex concepts.

Establishing Data Center

Making data ‘easy’ for everyone in the company to understand is essential for promoting data fluency. Different enterprises may use different terminologies compared to the industry standards. This can lead to confusion, hindering the development of data as a language. In this context, establishing a centralized data hub serving as a common repository of terminologies used within a company can be a game-changing strategy. It helps in fostering a unified understanding of data, promoting data as the shared common language, which further helps in breaking down silos and fostering cross-functional collaboration.

Building new competencies

Robust structures such as analytics centers and communities of excellence lay the groundwork for building a data-fluent workforce, but there is more to it. It is about creating a culture where everyone is fluent in data. This means hiring and retaining talent with data expertise and upskilling the current employees. The evolving landscape demands defining new roles like data engineers, citizen data scientists, translators and coaches. This must be complemented with revamped human resource approaches and professional development practices to promote a data-fluent environment.

Aligning data with Business KPIs

Aligning data with business Key Performance Indicators isn’t just a business necessity but a critical measure of a company's data maturity. Think of data as a compass guiding a company toward its goals. The higher the data maturity, the better the clarity about the organization’s success trajectory.

Defining data-driven success indicators offers a clear and objective perspective on performance, allowing agile adjustments and informed decision-making. Employees with strong data literacy skills can easily interpret metrics, infer data-driven actionable insights, and comprehend their implications for the business.

A Road Ahead

Amidst the evolving landscape, our approach towards data also needs a transformation.  By strategically planning and implementing data literacy, organizations empower their workforces to be fluent in data-driven decision-making. This is crucial for the company's success, helping it align insights with performance goals and become more flexible, scalable and competitive.

Original article here.

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