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Advance your data-driven journey – improve data literacy

1 September, 2020

“By 2023, data literacy will become an explicit and necessary driver of business value, demonstrated by its formal inclusion in over 80% of data and analytics strategies and change management programs.  Gartner 2019

In a data-driven company, data, facts, and insight are made available to everyone throughout the organization and are part of the company culture from the top-down and the bottom up.

So what does this have to do with data literacy?

Let´s say you are a data-rich company and has taken a strategic decision to advance your digital journey. If you are like most companies, you start with a small pilot project, and from this first learning experience, you progress your journey and mature. However, at some point or the other, you will find that you have a big problem. You realize that too few in your organization know how to interpret data, draw insights, and ask the right questions in their problem-solving. Well, this means that it is time to invest in boosting your employees’ data literacy (the ability to read, write and communicate data in context) and their skills in problem-solving. Read more about the data-driven and digital journey at Pedab.com.

Data literacy may sound … not to everybody’s taste … Stay calm, I am not talking about teaching your whole organization how to create mathematical formulas and building statistical models. What I am talking about is about leveraging the human curiosity that every one of us possesses and encourage iteration, experimentation, and exploration, in the organization.

“Leaders should support and encourage experimentation with and the use of new analytical tools, models, and techniques – enabling a wider range of insights and services …” Deloitte

Everybody needs to have a general ability to ask the right questions and understand what data is relevant

“Transform their enterprise by prioritizing cultural change and fostering a data-driven orientation”, says Gartner. And this must include most if not all employees, as data skills are becoming essential for almost every role in every organization- not just for business analysts and data scientists. Again, not everybody needs to be able to test hypotheses using A/B tests or validate data, but a general ability to ask the right questions and understand what data is relevant will significantly contribute to the company’s transformational journey. In a Forrester blog, Jennifer Belissent writes:

“With the use of data in decision making still stuck below 50%, it really is time to raise our game and really promote data literacy.”

Over time, the organization will get used to using data in all-important decision making. And not only will the employees look for data (that supports or contradicts something), they will also be skilled enough to interrogate the data as opposed to simply accepting it. Josh Bersin and Marc Zao-Sanders write

“As AI becomes a more critical component of business, modern professionals have a growing need to understand how to challenge the outputs of algorithms, and not just assume system decisions are always right.”

I firmly believe that by leveraging the human curiosity that every one of us possesses and boost the data literacy, major gains can be achieved in innovation, workplace democratization, and enrichment of the customer experience.