What is Data Literacy?

Data literacy is the ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data. Similar to literacy as a general concept, data literacy focuses on the competencies involved in working with data. Workforces that foster data-literate environments are successfully closing the data literacy gap and as a result are disrupting entire industries, fundamentally changing expectations, and exceeding service levels. 

Data Literacy in the Workforce and the Data Literacy Gap

Gartner had predicted that by 2020, 80% of organizations would initiate deliberate competency development in the field of data literacy to overcome extreme deficiencies. This has become even more critical to businesses today as they continue to adjust to the remote settings of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advanced data literacy makes an organization faster, smarter, and better prepared to succeed in a data-driven environment. However, many organizations struggle to create a data-literate workforce.The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) assessed the data-interpretation and problem-solving skills of adults in 23 countries, and found that the United States ranked 21st out of 23 countries participating. The data literacy gap does exist, but there are immediate ways to resolve the data literacy problem.

Where are you in your Data Literacy Journey?

The information below should act as an indicator of where your organization may be in your data literacy journey. Can you answer any or all three of these questions?

  1. Can you read data?
  2. Can you write data?
  3. Can you speak data?

1. Can you read data?

You as an individual contributor can analyze, interpret, and accurately translate and communicate data to others. You question the quality of data when analyzing any data piece brought forward to you. The organization you are in has data literacy established throughout the enterprise and does not solely limit data to data science and analytics teams. The organization makes continuous investments in data literacy.  

2. Can you write data?

You can read and conduct data analysis and subsequently can share out in written or presentation formats. You can accurately present and tell a story with data. Your organization inherently values data and makes its data easily accessible in a high–quality format. 

3. Can you speak data?

Beyond reading and writing data, the organization is data literate and has prioritized its data as a core value of the workplace. You and other employees recognize the importance of data and make sure to speak to it in all problem solving and work session use-cases. The organization has MDM and leading data technologies within the enterprise. Employees and stakeholders alike use data in decision-making. Decision-making is rooted in data and is from insight-driven rather than instinct-driven. 

Understanding the current data skillsets and data literacy of yourself and fellow employees is required for enterprises to successfully proceed through the ten-step roadmap and achieve the goal of fostering a data literate workforce. After you have answered the questions above, you have already made headway in the following data literacy roadmap in step 1 of assessing your data literacy status. Continue with our data literacy roadmap, below. 

Data Literacy Roadmap

As your organization starts to put an emphasis on data literacy, there are various steps to consider as you build out a roadmap.

Get started by watching this on-demand webinar, presented by Alissa Schneider, Sense Corp Data Governance Practice Leader. This webinar examines the fundamentals of data literacy, why it’s important in today’s marketplace, and the steps you can take to enhance data literacy in your organization. 

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