Data Transformation

Data Literacy: A Key Skill in The Future Workplace

author Josh Miramant December 31, 2019

In a world driven by data, it is imperative for industry leaders to develop strong Data Literacy within their organization. Data Literacy represents the ability of an organization’s personnel to “identify, understand, operate on, and use data”. The benefits of investing in such a skill are two-fold. On the one hand, it enables accurate, data-based communication among the employees of an enterprise. On the other hand, it allows turning data into action and eases the decision-making process. 

Early efforts to define the term have related it to existing models, such as information literacy and statistical literacy. We propose a more pragmatic definition, inspired by the realities of the fourth industrial revolution

Data Literacy is a fundamental business need

From the health and public sector, to finance, insurance and manufacturing, the progress of a variety of industrial sectors has been driven by big data. Moreover, constant technological advances make it increasingly affordable to acquire and store data from a variety of sources (industrial equipment, online platforms, smart IoT devices, etc.). This gives us the certainty that big data is still going to be one of the key pillars leading the industrial revolution for many years to come.

However, having the data is different from understanding the data. It is crucial for businesses that wish to stay ahead to make use of the big data available to them. Investing in data literacy enables employees to read, understand, analyze and argue based on that data. That is, in our opinion, a key skill to have in the modern workplace.

The positive impacts of data literacy have been identified by The Data Literacy Index, a report that aims to quantify and rank businesses according to their data literacy skills. It turns out that companies already investing in data literacy empower their workers at all hierarchical levels. Below are some common benefits and the practices used to achieve them:

Impact on the productivity of data-literate employees

  • Business analysts, data scientists and data engineers all rely on specialized software that enables them to easily manipulate data. Having access to specialized data tools is a way to make sure that data-literate employees become productive with their daily tasks (from handling and visualizing data, to preventing data breaches and optimizing deployment pipelines). The report has found a positive correlation between the use of specific data technologies and corporate performance.

Impact on business growth opportunities

  • Employees directly responsible for business growth rely on storytelling, visualization, and critical thinking when working with data. The report found that democratizing access to data and ensuring training in data and analysis for such roles is common for organizations at the top of the data literacy ranking. This translates in the long run to more business growth opportunities.

Impact on data-driven decision making

  • Executives are responsible for maintaining a competitive advantage and for taking the right decisions. In this sense, Data Literacy skills enable them to turn data insights into correct decisions and perform their job at the highest standard. The report shows that creating a structure that supports data-driven decision making is the focus of the top data-literate organizations.

Getting started with Data Literacy training for employees is now more accessible than ever. Online data literacy training courses, educational guides to data literacy and proven tools are easily available for all enterprises. The Data Literacy Project is a global community that aims to develop data literacy beyond the workplace and provides everybody with the opportunity to become a data literate citizen.

For the enterprise still deciding whether or not to invest in data literacy skills, we point them at the data: and the data says that the top-performing companies are the most data-literate companies. Cut your financial and time investment in half by beginning your data journey by contracting an expect from Blue Orange Digital. Industry-leading data strategies and direct steps to start making your data work for you. No barrier to entry, come join us.


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