The role of data literacy in corporate success

Understanding the underlying principles of data literacy is critical. [iStockphoto]

Data literacy is one of the most fundamental topics in today’s technology transformation world.

For any organisation aspiring to be data-driven, understanding the underlying principles of data literacy is critical. Gartner defines data literacy as “having the ability to understand, share common knowledge of and have meaningful conversations about data”

In recent years, there has been a notable trend of data being elevated to a highly valuable resource, with various monikers such as the “new oil” and “new gold” being attributed to it. Every day, we consume and produce data at home, on the move or at our workplaces. Yet many organizations lack the necessary resources and skills to convert data into value.

These resources extend beyond tools; they include the need to foster awareness on the need for data literacy. Ultimately this will unlock vast opportunities to those ready to walk this journey of data literacy.

People ask themselves questions about what the future of data will be like. Shall I retain my job? Will human interaction cease to exist? Will robots take over business processes? All these are valid questions to ask.

It is true, that there will be an evolution of jobs that we have never imagined. Despite all these uncertainties, evolution must prevail, and more jobs shall be created.

In a 2021 article titled “Impact of data and analytics on the future”, KPMG examined how changes in data and analytics impacts the way corporate services operate. The article showed that there is need for good data governance and mastery of data management to be a key part of any organisational structure to empower corporate services tackle the challenges they face.

It also argued that good investment in analytics’ tools is a good place to start. However, without good understanding of the different levels of analytics, such heavy investments might end up in a pitfall.

The world of analytics has its foundation on four levels: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive. To appreciate this, there is a need to have clarity how an organisation has viewed data and analytics historically. This vision will empower organisations to explore these four levels efficiently to be ahead of the pack.

Embarking on a journey to harness the full potential of your data may raise fundamental questions such as: How do you get started as an organisation? How can you get the best out of your data?  A deep understanding of tools, technologies and the data held by organisations is necessary for the journey towards data literacy.

With the emerging necessity for organisations to incorporate tools to empower their workforce, it is equally crucial for the workforce to possess the skills and readiness to utilise these tools for better output. To this end, it is important to engage collaboratively with organisations data custodians, assisting them to effectively unleash the power of these tools.

In addition, to position your organisation as one that is data driven, the foundation of the journey is in developing a data governance strategy. The strategy development process starts from defining clear roles and responsibilities for data management, to setting guidelines for data quality, security, and privacy.

It is also critical to align this strategy with the overall business goals and to foster a culture that values data as a key asset. An organisation that successfully embraces and implements this approach, ensuring its data governance strategy is responsive to changing business needs and technology trends, is bound to secure a competitive advantage, making it well-prepared for future challenges and opportunities.

- The writer is a senior data and analytics consultant with KPMG Advisory Services. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of KPMG.


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