Why Businesses Need To Put People And Data Literacy At The Heart Of Their Data Strategy

In India, every seven-in-ten employees is struggling under the increased workplace pressure on account of data-overload.

Data is fast gaining traction in various industries across the globe as a critical business currency. Recognizing the value of data analytics as a strategic advantage, enterprises are proactively mining business intelligence to boost their productivity and profitability. This, naturally, begs the question: How effective is it really?  

In one word, the answer is very. Market studies have time and again linked data literacy to improved business performance. But the truth remains: organizations have barely scratched the surface when it comes to converting the immense potential of predictive analysis into tangible business outcomes. For the most part, the main challenge arises in the form of the massive skill-gap that is inhibiting employees from extracting value from the deluge of data.  

According to recent research, “The Human Impact of Data Literacy,” conducted on behalf of The Data Literacy Project, by Qlik and Accenture, working with data was a major pain point for nearly 80 per cent of over 9,000 workers surveyed globally. It further noted that the inability to translate data into actionable insights led – and continues to lead to unfavourable outcomes for not just companies but for employees as well.  

The research showed that companies are losing billions in terms of productivity. In India, every seven-in-ten employees is struggling under the increased workplace pressure on account of data-overload. Therefore, now more than ever, it has become necessary for organizations to understand how to survive and thrive in today’s rapidly transforming data-driven business ecosphere. 

Lost in Non-Translation: Top data challenges faced by the modern workforce 

Today, capturing data is no longer a challenge for modern organizations. The challenge lies in converting and making accessible the vast stream of information into strategic avenues for accurate and effective decision-making. Why? Because to become truly data-driven, organizations need to have employees who can argue, engage, analyze, and work with data with ease and efficiency. However, the number of employees who can effectively apply data-mined insights for making decisions is few. As per the report, in India, less than half (46%) are fully confident in their data literacy skills. 

Inadequate data confidence among the workforce can prove detrimental to the overall organizational output and growth. The following are the three main ways in which this is happening in the current data landscape: 

1. Widening gap between data appreciation and employee adoption 

The report paints a highly contrasting picture when the quantum of data being generated today is compared to the percentage that is being actively leveraged to inform decision-making. While most employees (83%) felt that data comprised a key business asset, four in five workers (80%) often relied on their 'gut feeling' while making decisions. Interestingly, 53 per cent of respondents reported that they trusted their decisions more when data was involved. 

2. Rapid digital transformation behind spiking workplace stress 

A staggering 85% of employees in India found it overwhelming to work with data while seven-in-ten respondents cited data-overload as the main contributor to increased workplace stress. This caused close to half (49%) of the workforce to procrastinate and 27 per cent to completely avoid doing data-related tasks. 

3. Shrinking workplace productivity because of inadequate data skills 

The research found that due to stress related to the inundation of information, along with technology issues, companies in India annually lose an average of over eight working days (69 hours) worth of productivity per employee. This amounted to a loss of billions of dollars every year. 

Against this backdrop, what can organizations do to mitigate losses and sail to success in the data deluge? 

Data empowerment: A step towards success in the data revolution 

The first critical step that the management can take towards data transformation is generating awareness across all verticals about the need for acquiring advanced skill-sets. It is only when people can meaningfully converse with data will they be able to glean value from it and use it to make decisions.  

In fact, the same report highlights that data literate employees were 25 per cent more likely than their peers to say that they feel empowered while leveraging data to drive improved and more reliable decision-making. Further, more half (53%) believed that data literacy training would serve to enhance their productivity at the workplace. 

The onus of bringing about this change is on the senior management itself. To generate value from data, they must first understand its need and the competitive advantage that it can bring. It is only then that they can introduce and implement the necessary resources, processes, and methodologies within the organization to enable employees to become – and feel – data empowered. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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