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Data Literacy: A Potential $500m Opportunity for Enterprise Businesses

Written by Solomon Radley

Data Literacy: A Potential $500m Opportunity for Enterprise Businesses

Written by Solomon Radley on Feb 14, 2020 9:24:16 AM

Digital Transformation and Strategy

With research showing that data literate enterprises are worth USD $320-534 million more on average than their rivals, it’s time for data leaders to consider how they can release the value ‘trapped’ within their organizations

If a person can’t read or write, simple, everyday tasks become impossible. Imagine an employee trying to check their emails, schedule a meeting or edit a document without these essential skills.

CDAOs have long felt the same way about the ability to read, write and communicate with data. But, it’s only recently that people have begun trying to measure the true cost of poor data literacy in large organizations.

“Data fluency needs to improve so we can all speak the same language,” argues Debbie Henderson, former CDO at Queensland University of Technology. “Getting data recognized as a resource that’s on a par with physical, human and monetary assets would be a huge achievement.”

Business intelligence platform Qlik is one company fighting to earn data literacy the recognition it deserves.

A recent Qlik survey of more than 7,300 business decision-makers reveals that 94% of people who use data in their current roles believe it helps them do their jobs better. In fact, 85% of data literate people say they’re performing very well at work. That’s compared to just 54% of the rest of the workforce.

But the biggest revelation is the direct impact that having staff with the right data skills can have. According to Qlik's 2018 Data Literacy Index, enterprises with high data literacy levels are typically worth USD $320-534 million more than those without.

“If you want to make data a part of every company decision, you have three steps: the mindset, the skillset and the dataset” – Kshira Saagar, Group Director of Data Science and Analytics, Global Fashion Group

Research company PSB Research polled 604 decision-makers at enterprises across the globe with more than 500 employees to arrive at this figure. In doing so, the company has put a clear value on the importance of corporate data literacy for the very first time.

“Data literacy helps us to make accurate judgments and ensures our interpretations are logical,” Henderson explains. “To successfully become an insight-driven, data-driven or evidence-based you need to be fluent in the language of data.”

Why Data Literacy Drives Enterprise Profitability

PSB Research’s findings should be no surprise to anyone who’s attended one of Corinium’s global data and analytics conferences. Our events regularly feature presentations from CDAOs who have generated similar returns for their organizations.

But as companies progress along this path to data maturity, they quickly realize that hiring a CDAO, creating a data strategy and developing new data-driven capabilities isn’t enough.

Data literacy is the final piece of the puzzle. Without proper training, staff at all levels of the organization often struggle to get the most out of these new tools. Or worse, they may not even grasp why they should be excited about adopting new data-driven ways of working.

“There is a strong case for creating internal development programs to help staff use data more effectively through improved data fluency” – Debbie Henderson, former CDO, QUT

“We’re studying the impact of all this data on people and about three out of four people are overwhelmed by what they’re being asked to do,” says Jordan Morrow, Global Head of Data Literacy at Qlik. “Our job as leaders is to ensure that the right initiatives are in place.”

“People and their skills always matter,” affirms Henderson. “There is a strong case for creating internal development programs to help staff use data more effectively through improved data fluency.”

Of course, there are many ways to harness data and analytics to drive business value. So, what ‘data literacy’ means in practice will depend on what an organization does, and it will also vary from role to role.

But as the Data Literacy Index proves, the better the staff within an organization get at using data, the more productive they generally become. Given that such a large chunk of the workforce struggles with data literacy, the need for initiatives to improve things is undeniable.

That’s why data leaders must make data literacy a priority in 2020. Identifying knowledge gaps and developing data literacy programs to fill them is the key to unlocking the full potential of any data strategy.


This is an excerpt from our The Data Literacy Blueprint report. Claim your copy today to discover six ways data and analytics leaders can drive data literacy within their organizations.

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