Data literacy and business success: what’s the connection?27 Aug 2019 | by Brett Mundell
Data literacy could be a critical component of being able to benefit from digital transformation. Let’s take a closer look at why data literacy matters.
Becoming a digital business is a key priority for many organisations, but it’s not easy.
Our experience in helping hundreds of customers adopt enterprise software highlights a number of hurdles to overcome: selecting the right system and implementation partners; keeping implementation projects on track and on budget, and managing and communicating change effectively.
Another risk many small to medium businesses face is embedding powerful tools that lay the foundation for ongoing change without also developing their team to take full advantage. In particular, poor data literacy is a top internal roadblock to success.
Success in a digital economy requires digital skills
Late last year, the Australian Government launched a Digital Economy Strategy entitled Australia’s Tech Future that outlines how our country can embrace technological change to share in the benefits of a growing digital economy.
They’re keen to ensure Australia doesn’t miss out the estimated $315 billion economic boost that digital innovation can deliver (according to CSIRO’s Data61).
Developing Australians’ digital skills through training and education is a key pillar of the strategy because:
- most jobs of the future will require the ability to use technology to communicate and find information (at a minimum); and
- a lack of digital skill is a key barrier to businesses adopting new technologies.
As well as upgrading to modern, cloud-based solutions and exploring emerging technologies, the strategy recommends that businesses identify the skills and capabilities they need to further harness the benefits of digital technology.
Given the enormous amount of data being generated (a lot of which is managed by businesses) through online channels and internet-connected devices, your employees’ ability to understand and act on data is important.
Data is critical to capitalising on technologies
Data literacy is a key development area businesses will need to prioritise—regardless of industry—to remain competitive and reap the benefits of their investment in innovative technologies.
Annette Slunjski, Managing Director of the Institute of Analytics Professionals of Australia, argues that businesses that are not data-driven within five years will cease to exist. She says one of the biggest issues for Australia is the cohort of workers who aren’t data literate and won’t be able to find new jobs if their positions are disrupted by automation.
“Data understanding and data literacy education is an organisational imperative to be part of the emerging data economy,” Slunjski argues.
A recent study into corporate data literacy around the globe found a proven correlation between levels of data literacy and performance: equating to higher enterprise value of up to $500 million for organisations whose workforce fall in the top third for data literacy. Despite this, just 34 percent of firms currently provide data literacy training and just 17 percent ‘significantly encourage’ their team members to get more comfortable with data.
Global consultancy Gartner believes that 50 percent of organisations will lack sufficient AI and data literacy skills to achieve business value by next year. They expect many organisations will initiate competency development in this area from 2020 to address the deficiency.
Gartner define data literacy as: “the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied — and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.”
To foster data literacy across the whole enterprise Gartner recommends that businesses run assessments to identify knowledge gaps, establish a shared language around data, and facilitate opportunities for people to learn and practice ‘speaking data’ on a regular basis.
Turning information into action: how to connect the dots
Drawing the right conclusions from data and taking the right actions as a result, are key areas where improved data literacy can significantly boost your business. Data-driven decisions and the work of following through is primarily done by real human beings.
However, the functionality and usability of the systems you introduce to help people interpret data should not be overlooked.
Powerful enterprise systems that combine a unified database with in-memory processing, in-depth reporting, analytics and associated business intelligence capabilities give companies of any size the ability to:
- extract the right data from large volumes of big data (structured and unstructured)
- interpret data to provide useful insights, forecasts and drive alerts and automation
- present insights in visually appealing formats and on any device to make them accessible.
Enterprise-wide software systems need to collect, co-ordinate and structure data in formats that are easy for users to consume. This data has to be accurate and timely and should be collected from across the business and other relevant sources. Interpretation and action is made easy when based on great data.
Robust analytical capabilities can provide valuable information: connecting analytics to action is where the skills and knowledge of your employees come in.
Truly integrated systems that are successfully embedded within your organisation, combined with good processes and data literacy, helps you mature into a digital business leader.
Such a set-up also helps you close the loop—collecting and sharing data about the outcomes of actions taken and feeding this back into a shared knowledge base—enabling more parts of the business to learn and optimise going forward.
Are you ready to adopt innovative enterprise solutions to build a business that’s more capable of leveraging data? We can help: call 1300 045 046 or email [email protected].
Brett has more than 20 years of business software sales and company management experience. Brett has been involved in more than 300 ERP projects. His passion is customer satisfaction, making sure every client is more than just satisfied. Brett wants our customers to be driven to refer their friends and peers because we offer the best services and technology available and because we exceeded their expectations.