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How Data Literate Is Your Organization? Here’s How to Find Out

Publication date: 17 November 2021

As companies are placing more and more emphasis on data for running the organization, data literacy is gradually becoming an essential skill every employee needs to have. About 90% of business leaders cite data literacy as the key to company success. However, only 25% of employees feel confident in their data skills.

In addition, recent research indicates that data science lags behind even other tech-oriented disciplines, like digital marketing and user experience design. As evidence suggests, even though data literacy is critically important, companies continually struggle to build these skills.

In this article, we pinpoint what data literacy is precisely and how to improve this skill within your company.

What is Data Literacy?

MIT professor Catherine D’Ignazio and research scientist Rahul Bhargava describe data literacy in a paper as the ability to:

  • Read data – comprehending what data is and what it represents in the world.
  • Work with data – the ability to create, acquire, clean, and manage data.
  • Analyze data – the skill of filtering, sorting, comparing, and performing other analytic operations on data.
  • Argue with data – use data to communicate a message or a story to an audience.

In order to be data literate, “you have to be verbally literate, numerically literate, and graphically literate,” says Miro Kazakoff, MIT Sloan senior lecturer.

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How to Assess Data Literacy at Your Company

Assessing and improving data literacy within a company is a complex process. You can begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How many people in your business can interpret straightforward statistical operations such as correlations or judge averages?
  • How many managers can construct a business case based on concrete, accurate and relevant numbers?
  • How many managers can explain the output of their systems or processes?
  • How many data scientists can explain the output of their machine learning algorithms?
  • How many of your customers can truly appreciate and internalize the essence of the data you share with them?

Here are a few recommendations that will help you improve data literacy within your organization.

How to Improve Data Literacy in Your Company

Make data literacy an organization-wide priority.

It’s important to note that data literacy is not a technical skill but a professional one. That’s why you need to make it a priority in the entire company, not just specific departments. Encourage all of your employees, including marketers, salespeople, operations personnel, and product managers, to improve their data literacy by hosting various engagement sessions.

Everyone learns differently.

Every employee is different, even when it comes to their learning preferences. While some may benefit the most from hands-on exercises, others may prefer self-led courses. Since data literacy is a skill that needs to be taught, it is important to keep the training or workshops continuous, right-sized, and in the right medium.

Reward data-driven decision-making.

Good work and hard work should always be rewarded. Take your current company processes and add mechanisms that will reward data-driven thinking. For example, you can reward your managers with faster project approvals or larger budgets when they make data-driven instead of intuition-driven proposals.

Making a switch and becoming data-driven can indeed be challenging. But, you don’t have to do it alone! Whether you are building a data-driven enterprise from scratch, improving existing KPIs, or still trying to connect the dots, we are the team of business intelligence experts in your corner.

At HICO-Group, we offer a holistic approach to customer solutions for business intelligence. We are masters in working with KPIs. From KPI identification and planning to building future-proof data solutions, we implement state-of-the-art BI concepts customized for your company’s needs and market. 

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