The value of data literacy in today’s information economy

Data literacy is becoming an increasingly popular term these days but very few are aware of its impact on our jobs as business owners and industry professionals. To be data literate, one should not only be able to read and interpret information coherently but also to question the validity of this data. Many organizations put the data in the hands of experts and managers instead of empowering employees of different hierarchical levels. This undermines overall business efficiency and disables workers from sorting out the unreliable from reliable sources.

How stressful are statistics?

According to a survey, conducted by the leader in data discovery Qlik, only 17% of workers prove to be fully confident in their ability to read and argue with data – a statistic that showcases the growing need for organizations to establish data awareness campaigns for their employees. You can read all about the survey here.

The survey shows that data literate employees in an organization by job level are mostly directors (31,5%) followed by senior executives (32,3%). Knowledge is power, but entry-level professionals (15%) and manual workers (10,2%) still seem to have far less control over data, as revealed by the research.

According to 18,1% of the surveyed, only a small number of people within their organization feel empowered to use data in their daily work, while 10% claim to have never had a data literacy training on any of their jobs and are thus unfamiliar with the specific policy of data use within an organization. 70 % of employees confess that if given the chance, they would like to improve their data skillset.

A graphic representing statistics derived from a survey based on the value of data literacy

Data literate employees by gender

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Percentage of data literate people by job level

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Percentage of employees willing to learn more about data literacy

The value of data literacy for employees

Raw data can be intimidating. Before you dive into any set of data, you need to fully understand what insights you are looking to extract from the data. Employees who are data illiterate lack confidence at work, become more vulnerable to errors and are less productive. They are unable to evaluate the arguments of managers and clients and thus fail to make data-driven decisions based on solid arguments. This calls for emergency educational programs on data literacy that organizations need to adopt – from establishing the culture of а data literate society to continuous fostering of the employee skill set.

There is a distinct connection between job performance and a good grasp of data. Workers need to have the appropriate skill set and domain expertise in order to perform well at work. They need to feel empowered and proficient when using data in their jobs. Good knowledge on the subject helps improve their overall efficiency, product understanding and customer relations.

Why companies need to be data literate?

Business owners need to recognize sooner the benefits of data literacy education for their employees. It can be intimidating if you don’t feel confident in knowing what you should know and be able to read it – knowledge about data gives stability of businesses that their processes are running smoothly, credibility of their services before their customers and last but not least, a quicker and more informed decision-making power, especially in dynamic environments.

Technology has provided us with multiple sources to access and process data. Organizations that neglect the importance of data literacy will fall behind businesses who decide to bring more value to the table by integrating data platforms into their work. Gathering, processing and storing data is not enough anymore – organizations now need to contextualize numbers and charts and convert them into actionable insights that convince and empower.

What role will data analysts play in the future?

Organizations have to prepare for current and future business and workforce needs, driven by the complexity in the use of data analytics and the growing need for data discovery. Data illiteracy holds people and businesses back. That is why a substantially higher rate of organizations will start to invest in people with data-driven approach.

The LinkedIn Workforce report shows that a data analyst will continue to be the most sought-after job profile over the next five years. Moreover, recruitment of data developers and data engineers is expected to rise significantly – 700 000 recruitments by 2020.