Imagine working in a restaurant where the head chef speaks Italian, the managers converse in French, the waiters understand only Portuguese, and none of the staff members knows a common second language. Besides there being an obvious communication gap, there would be an absence of strategic thinking and effectual managerial systems, culminating in a poor output of results. In today’s digitally transformative society, a similar mayhem is likely to ensue in a corporate lacking data literacy.

Absence of data literacy is one of the biggest challenges faced by companies that strive to foster a successful data culture. According to a Qlik, 76% of key decision makers surveyed lack confidence in their ability to read, understand and analyse data. Data and analytics are valuable skills which are guaranteed to help enterprises achieve business value. However, a shortage of suitable resources to make an organisation more data savvy leads to confusion, thereby inhibiting the company’s overall growth.

In this piece, we endeavour to address a few pointers to make organisations more data literate in a simple, systematic and practical manner:

Create a workforce assessment of current data literacy: For enterprises to design an effective data literacy programme, they first need to ascertain their employees’ current skillsets and perspectives in relation to data. This would be useful not only for formulating an effective plan but also in learning about their opinions in relation to the subject. Through assessing everyone’s comfort levels with data, it would be possible to identify grey areas and take a suitable call. Thus, testing your employees’ current levels of data literacy is an essential precursor to formulating an effective programme.

Plan a thorough data literacy programme: A Qlik report on data literacy and strategy discusses how the implementation of a solid data literacy programme is imperative. Following the assessment, you’d have information on your employees’ existing skills, therefore making it possible to chart out a programme with participants, material required to be covered, the budget and its potential duration. As discussed in our blog on data culture, it is useful to have data catalysts and experts within the company who would be instrumental in aiding the formulation of this programme with their expertise.

Ensure that there is adequate and appropriate data governance: According to Gartner, though executives theoretically understand the interlinks between people, processes and technology, they do not ‘speak data’ as a common language. Having an authority that ensures that the relationship among people, processes and technologies remains seamless goes a long way in developing and maintaining a data literate organisation. Quality data governance also ensures that the right education is provided to employees who are in the process of upskilling themselves to be more data literate.

Conduct regular competency tests following initial training: While training employees in being adept with data-driven processes is crucial, it is equally important to keep an eye on their competencies, progress and weaknesses. In this regard, it makes sense to have a test every couple of months to ensure that employees of the organisation are on the same page with respect to current data trends and practices. It would be worth conducting evaluations on parameters such as basic data analysis, interpretation, visualization, presentation, decision making and application. Through this, it’d also be easy to identify employees or departments that require special guidance with respect to understanding data practices.

Make data easily available to all departments: One of the main reasons most companies fail to achieve the required amount of data literacy is owing to the lack of data democratisation. Confining data to a select few makes it appear obscure and mind-boggling to other users. It is vital for data to be not only understandable, but also accessible to everyone in the company right from the c-suite to all other departmental members. In doing so, the importance of data is automatically made apparent and its insights can be derived to make more informed decisions.

It is therefore evident that implementing an effective data literacy strategy begins with a company understanding the importance of a data driven culture and its power in decision-making.

If you wish to learn more about any of the topics discussed here, do shoot an email to David.fitzpatrick@clearstrategy.ie.