Data literacy: how can organisations improve this skill in 2018?

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Data and analytics are key to every organisation, enabling us to analyse question after question to find new insights and identify the most critical obstacles to overcome when it comes to business.

Considering the complexity and scope of today’s data, as well as the speed of business today, old-school analytics methods and models are insufficient. As data becomes more democratised, allowing people access to their own data and the ability to analyse it, the need for greater data literacy is on the rise with data analysts and data scientists in demand now more than ever.

In fact, according to a recent PwC study, 69% of employers will demand data science and analytics skills from job candidates by the year 2021.

LinkedIn has also recently reported that statistical analysis and data mining, as well as data engineering and data warehousing, are among the top hard skills that companies need the most. As demand from employers grows, the urgency to fill businesses with highly skilled data enthusiasts becomes more critical.

But there’s a reality gap. The same PwC report cites that only 23% of college graduates will have the necessary skills to compete at the level that employers demand. As such, it’s clear that employers will need to upskill their staff’s data skills and literacy.

That’s why, when it comes to internal training, identifying those key skills and the tools needed to support their people’s development is vital to the future of employees and, in turn, the business.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to bolster data skills and foster a culture of data analytics in your organisation. Here are four key points to consider when it comes to improving data literacy:

1. Hire new roles

When it comes to improving data literacy, it’s important to have staff in place who are able to lay the right foundation and act as data evangelists for the business.

However, in some cases, a gap forms between a CIO and the business while reconciling security and governance versus speed to insight. With that, the C-suite is becoming more accountable for driving a culture of analytics within the business.

The more your employees understand your company’s data from a variety of business perspectives, the better positioned they’ll be to understand context and a big picture perspective when looking at their own data.

For many, the answer may be to appoint a Chief Data Officer (CDO) or Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) to lead business process change, overcome cultural barriers and communicate the value of analytics at all levels.

In this new data era, the role of the CDO/CAO is outcome-focused and more targeted towards driving business results than ever before. The role also ensures proactive C-level conversations happen on the development of an analytics strategy from the get-go. This, in turn, will prove highly valuable for organisations looking to develop data training internally.

2. Bring in external experts

Organisations might not always have experts or resources available internally to deliver a workshop on topics such as data literacy. This is why looking at external voices provides a great opportunity to explore more diverse subjects.

Bringing the entire business together for a monthly meeting is a great opportunity to invite a diverse range of external experts – from business partners to NGOs – to share key learnings and present examples of how data analytics is supporting their work.

Doing so means employees walk away with a fresh perspective that helps them tackle challenges and develop new ideas. By way of example, at Tableau we often invite customers and charities to come and share their data story with the team. As a result, employees leave feeling inspired and excited about new ways to approach business challenges.

3. Try cross-department training – with a data perspective

Employees with adaptable and collaborative working environments tend to be more productive and efficient with their work. The same thought goes for internal training.

One way to achieve this kind of environment is by implementing cross-department training. What’s more, considering each company discipline, for instance marketing or finance, has its own set of unique data terms and datasets.

Data analysis is increasingly used to drive business decisions, and for employees at every level, this is no longer a nice to have, but a need to have.

The more your employees understand your company’s data from a variety of business perspectives, the better positioned they’ll be to understand context and a big picture perspective when looking at their own data.

This will allow employees to improve their data proficiency levels within their role and outside of their current responsibilities. Additionally, it can be motivating for employees to learn how processes work throughout the business, from start to finish, and how they contribute to the final results.

4. Self-paced training

In many cases, small businesses don’t have access to endless resources dedicated to training. And while in-person training will always remain a preferable method of employee development, when resources are tight, it’s important for employers to be flexible in their approach to training.

This means being aware of the latest online training tools that are available via videos, webinars and whitepapers, as these are an effective way of upskilling your employees’ data skills.  

Take data analytics as an example. There are a number of online training videos and courses that allow employees to learn at their own pace, when it’s convenient, and then apply it to their day-to-day work.

Ultimately, the workplace is changing. Data analysis is increasingly used to drive business decisions, and for employees at every level, this is no longer a nice to have, but a need to have. As a result, employers will be wise to invest in adequate training for staff. This not only adds value to a company, but also benefits the long-term development of employees.

 

About James Eiloart

James Eiloart

James Eiloart is Tableau Software’s SVP EMEA. James has spent the past 4 years with Tableau leading the business in EMEA. 


With more than 28 years in the software industry, building and leading international sales teams and strong partner ecosystems, James has held executive positions in sales, channel, strategic alliances, and marketing. Prior to Tableau, James was SVP Global Sales at Alterian.  He has also served in executive positions at E.piphany and Remedy and crafted his sales skills at Compuware. 
James is a graduate of the University of Leeds and holds an BSC (Hons) in Data Processing. When he can escape the demands of his wife and 4 children, James plays golf, badly.

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23rd Feb 2018 17:56

Great Article James, Self-paced training is a great point. Having access to ways to improve your workforce can be difficult. Would love to read any other articles you may have on this subject. I am working to build out my thoughts here http://www.nickstephan.com. Once they become more refined I can submit to author an article on here.

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