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Why data literacy will serve you well in the workplace

By Nancy Nzalambi | August 9th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Since digital transformation is the name of the game lately, data is an ever growing organisational asset presenting endless possibilities on how we can employ data-driven strategies.

Data literacy means being comfortable in using information at your disposal, analyse it and allowing it to form actionable insights for decision making.

Data skills aren’t just for scientists and researchers. When you have a good grasp of these skills, or even by just having the basic ability to read and use data, you will be able to ask the right questions, make the right decisions, and add value to your organisation.

Going into the future, organisations will not just be good at collecting data, they will need to put the data they collect into use.

Why does it matter?

Just as different generations learnt to work with computers, evolved to using the Internet, we will also need to refine and improve on using data. It is important for employees and management to have a shared vision in line with the objectives of the organization.

The use of data is becoming more influential as it helps employees understand the why of their organisation’s initiatives. With data, companies can make evidence based judgement on on-going projects, and explore new profit making ventures for development; not just to avoid losses but with the objective to upscale winning gains.

To solve client needs, improve on service delivery and operations and make better talent acquisition, companies need to immerse more in data.

Return on investment

Your salary is an investment. Your company has invested in your skill set to help steer the organisation forward. While some may feel engulfed in routine, data literacy can give you an upper hand in adding value to your organisation.

It is not uncommon for organisations to hire data experts to help in interpreting big data for the employees. When you become the data go-to guy, your company will be motivated to invest more in your skill set. You will have given your company an edge over data breaches and overcome data deficiencies.

Data strategist Bernard Marr says: “The more empowered employees are to read, write, analyse and argue with data, the more they will be able to contribute to their roles and the future of their organisations.” With most organisations only having a handful of data literate staff, it is increasingly becoming comprehendible that data literacy is a quick win with long term gains.

Numbers don’t lie

In order for companies to maintain a competitive advantage in the market, executives need to be excellent at taking the right decisions. Data-driven decision making gives a dependable source of truth.

Employees are able to synthesise what is valuable and let go of what is not. It is also important to reason with data to lessen the instances of misalignment and misunderstanding.

Why is data literacy untapped?

Even with its numerous advantages especially in business growth, data literacy remains hugely untapped.

Most companies appreciate the use of data, relying on data to make decisions. However, many people — including senior business executives — tend to trust gut instinct over data-driven decision. What this could mean is that, either data collection lacks validity and reliability or the lack of data analysis skills is negatively impacting our attitude towards data.

Why? Working with data is presumed to be tiresome. Additionally, poor data can bring crippling effects to an organisation. But thanks to the constant advances in technology, it is becoming easier and more affordable to work with data.

You do not have to learn complex computer coding language, but if you can learn to interpret analysed data and relay the derived insights, you are a step ahead. It also means that you can interpret data so that the results are useful and actionable.


Data literacy Data Workplace
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