The topic of data literacy seems to swirling around organisations at the moment and the push is to see how data literate they are and how they can get training to understand that.
Now, I have been around data for a long time, over 20 years in fact, and I consider myself to be data literate; that said it doesn’t mean that I’m brilliant at all aspects of data.
The chances are that if you’re reading this blog then you’re either wondering what data literacy is all about, or you’re trying to find out more about training or assessment for your organisation.
I could tell you to just look around and see how it looks? I could just say well you could ask people how literate they feel? I could say many things but that doesn’t really answer the question particularly if you’re not overly sure what data literacy really is.
If that’s the case then read on, because I will provide you with a little insight into what data literacy is and how it might be of help to you!
My belief is that all organisations need to have a good level of data literacy in order to function efficiently, perhaps be more competitive or simply more effective; to do this you need to know that data literacy is neither a quick fix nor some kind of silver bullet; data literacy is a feeling, an understanding or part of your culture. Typically its made up of three key areas:
Adopting data literacy could be a major change in an organisation, you need to understand what it’s about and determine how literate you feel your organisation is.
Then having achieved that you will need to understand about how you can make use of the information that you’ve gathered and you would, most likely, consider analytics as a way of achieving that; by using analytics we could ascertain the quality of the data we use and then determine which areas are not quite as literate as we had thought.
After that, having determined what and how we need to take that all important step and make the changes that we need to ensure that literacy is taken on board in the business and that we have a method of maintaining the level that we need.
Also don’t think that just because you say it’s a good thing, that people will just agree because they most likely will ask a whole lot of questions about how you know that. Don’t forget that attaining widespread data literacy comes at a cost. People will need to be trained to make sure they are as data literate as they need to be and that takes time. Finally don’t forget that although increasing the level of data literacy will undoubtedly deliver benefits, those benefits tend to intangible and undefined at the start of the initiative and if you’ve been around change programmes before you’ll know how difficult they are to drive through.
Data literacy doesn’t bring that on its own, however if you bring it into the mix of your organisation then you are taking one small step to being more effective and efficient and why wouldn’t you want that!