What is Data Literacy and How It Can Help You Achieve Business Intelligence

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Data and analytics are growing increasingly important across all industries. This growth comes with new and strategic challenges for organizations as well as data and analytics leaders. Companies do not want to be one of those businesses lacking in sufficient AI and data literacy skills, impacting their business value. They need to take full advantage of all the advanced business intelligence (BI) techniques, which include machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). They need to then use these to empower all business users and make them more data-driven. This makes the culture of strong data literacy across the entire organization a must.

The biggest challenge today is that most businesses do not necessarily understand the importance of data analytics, and at the same time analysts and other data professionals may not have the understanding the impact data has on a business. Now that data and analytics are becoming increasingly important as assets to organizations, all employees need to learn and understand data and use it when it is relevant to their job role.

Literacy has become more than just reading and writing. There are a lot of skills that employees need to learn and master to solve problems in the organization.

What Do We Mean By Data Literacy?

Data literacy can be defined as the ability to read, write and communicate all data as information. This has to be done in context. There has to be an understanding of data sources and constructs as well, along with various analytical methods and techniques that are put to use. Employees also need to possess the ability to describe the use, application and resulting value of the data.

To build an organization that is data-driven, enterprises have to be able to quantify the business value of their data. This means organizations need to know the business outcomes that will result in when they take action on their analysis. Enterprises also need to nurture a mindset of data-driven decision making across the organization. They need to empower their employees and hand them the information they need as well. Companies should also be able to define and communicate all ethical considerations that come with data such as: 

  • Transparency
  • Data protection 
  • Integrity.  

The first step in making data discovery and analysis easy to understand, it needs to be made accessible to every employee in an organization. This is why data literacy is a must in companies. Employees need to know what their data is showing them and they need to be able to analyze all data visualizations presented to them and make the right insights. They need to understand the trends that are showing completely and then know how to act on them.

The Importance of Data Literacy

Most organizations are still at the stage where they are trying to make sense of the data presented to them. At the same time though, there is a new trend of emerging data-focused companies that do more than record their transactions or recommend new products. These companies have started using their data to predict as well as influence the consumer’s actions in the future.

To be able to achieve this, the entire company needs to be data literate, so that they can support fact-based decision making and at the same time enable their users to explore and experiment with data so that they can discover more opportunities in the future.

Every single employee needs to be able to understand where the data relevant to them comes from and how it was analyzed, interpreted and visualized to gain the maximum amount of benefit from it. This data can greatly benefit the company once the valuable and meaningful data has been separated from the massive amount of total data generated. Data literacy is honing this skill.

Traits for Building Data Literacy

Provide Widespread Access to Data

Most departments are still excluded from getting access to data in their organizations. Data has been provided to the board of directors and the C-suite in the past, and also marketing teams. If companies want to create an organization that is data-literate, employees need to have access to data without going through an intermediary, like the IT team. Companies need to learn how to properly identify all the sources of data that can be used and make it accessible via internal data services.

Leadership by Example

Managers have essentially been making decisions for the company based on their experience and their instinct, which is why just providing them with access to data will not ensure that they utilize it. There has to be a new mindset created, and it has to be taught through example. Managers and other employees in leadership positions need to encourage their subordinates to back their opinions, ideas and future strategies with relevant data.

A Platform for Sharing Data

Employees also need a platform where they can view the data collected, manipulate this data and share the results with colleagues. Confining data to desktop applications such as Excel can be limiting. It can lead to inconsistencies over a larger scale, the data received can become out of date, and employees can even get conflicting results while looking at the same figures.

When there is one common platform available where all employees can view, analyze and share their data, it becomes the single source of truth. This means all employees have access to the latest information, new policies can be enforced much more easily when it comes to security and governance. All of this is possible when the data available becomes stored centrally as well as managed centrally.

Critical Thinking

All employees need to learn how to analyze their data critically and make appropriate use for it when it is relevant because the analytics they make are only as good as the underlying data that is being used. They need to make sure they use the latest data and that it is not incomplete or insufficient in any way for them to draw insights from. They need to identify all shortcomings critically and act on them accordingly. Using incorrect data will only lead to making decisions that impact the organization negatively and it will be a huge waste of resources as well.

All members across the organization need to also think critically about the way they interpret their results. They need to avoid creating a confirmation bias or drawing conclusions from data that is inconclusive or too little as well. 

When there is an entire enterprise looking at the same data, it can completely change the company’s output. Employees just need to know how to use data properly so that they can design their products or services in a better manner and improve their efficiency. There are affordable and powerful tools available for organizations to turn this into reality. Employees need to know how to efficiently assess the value of their data and interpret it properly. They do not need to be data scientists to gain value from their data, only data-literate.

How Data Literacy Has Become Crucial for Business Intelligence

When companies make data literacy a top priority, they can improve their business intelligence strategies. Businesses need to treat data like it is their second language and ensure that all employees are well versed in it. For an enterprise in today’s modern environment, data has become a necessity. Companies need to start relying on data to drive all their business decisions. Data-driven insights need to become a core function within all team members, which is why they need to be able to communicate and understand at least the basic analytics. 

When organizations are not data literate or have poor data literacy, it can act as an inhibitor to their business growth and they will lose their edge over those competitors who have already made data a top priority.

The Increase in Growth of Data Collection and Analysis

There is a growth in the number of models and new business intelligence platforms in recent times. This is because a lot of enterprises have started to collect more data than ever before, so these platforms were created to help companies use the data and act on it. This data-driven era is unlike any other before and it has no chance of slowing down and organizations do not want to be left behind in this process.

Bridging the Skills Gap

Companies need to make sure their employees are trained properly. They need to undergo programs and lessons and they need to be taught how to read data and analyze it. Programs created to educate data scientists are slowly making their way into schools, but all existing employees need to be trained to make them data literate as soon as possible as well to fill the gap and make every employee literate. 

A lot of teams already have to interact with data on a regular basis. This is why there has to be a way to bridge the gap in the skills and ensure that all employees can become their own self-serving analysts. One way for companies to do this is by investing in new and upcoming technology that will simplify all complexities that come with big data sets and analytics for the average business user. This way all data gets democratized. This means that data will the technology will work across the entire company. Each department will still have technical needs and requirements even if it is not a technical department, and if the company’s existing business intelligence tools are not made to serve every department in the organization, the data will become less likely to be used and adopted. The technology adopted by companies needs to bridge the gap between all regular employees who have minimal experience with data and all skilled data scientists.

More Powerful Means of Data Storytelling

With the progress of the data revolution, there is a consequent rise in the need to improve data literacy. There are automated tools available for enterprises that enable all members of the organization to scale their data expertise, something that is becoming increasingly more essential to achieve company-wide data literacy.

Data needs to become more accessible and at the same time, it also needs to become easier to understand. To make data literacy a phenomenon across the company a real possibility, businesses need to use natural language generation (NLG) technology to generate automated written analytics which is created directly inside the company’s data visualization tools. This way there are real-time insights created in a way that everyone can understand, which is the written word. Employees can now simply read the data and comprehend it when they use the power of data storytelling.

Conclusion: A Look into the Future of Data Literacy

To be literate in data has now become one skill that all companies are looking out for in their organization, even in lieu of their technological advancement. As of now, what reports indicate is that the majority of all executives in a higher position, their employees, other students in university and the wide workforce, in general, is not yet confident with reading and understanding data. This is why there are more and more initiatives and resources that are being made available to the masses so that it encourages a greater fluency in reading, interpreting and analyzing data across all enterprise systems.

For this to become a possibility, companies need to promote data literacy across their organization, which means they need to make it a norm and build a culture around it. Organizations need to create cultures that are data first, intuition later. This way all employees are encouraged to use data in all aspects of their job roles. Their statements will always come hand in hand with the strong support of factual usage in all their decision making. This culture will also celebrate curiosity as well as critical thinking in their employees.

To efficiently create this type of work culture in a company, the enterprise will need to right technology and the right people. The biggest shift will now take place in the recruitment processes for future employees, where data literacy will slowly become a must. Companies will definitely need to hire employees that are data-driven and can master the use of data available across their organization.

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