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Why Data Literacy is Important for Your Business (& How You Can Get Started)

By Emily Wilson • July 17, 2020

In today’s fast-moving business environment, it’s understandably tempting to make decisions based on personal opinion, gut feelings, or groupthink, especially when those options feel like all you have at your disposal. But training and emboldening a data-literate team – from your technical to non-technical employees – can open doors to new, creative approaches, new ways of thinking, and ultimately, new paths toward growth and success. 

It’s useful to think of business not as people vs. data but as people + data working together to deliver value. For the latter to become a working reality for your business, everyone in all roles must be data literate, meaning to have the ability to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data. This is an increasingly accepted set of fundamental skills needed by all members of an organization. 

“For most corporations, data-driven approaches are gaining momentum across functional areas and interaction with analytics (and technical teams) is becoming more important for a broad set of workers,” said Metis Sr. Data Scientist Javed Ahmed. “Non-technical professionals need insights from data to make decisions, and it is dangerous to outsource too much of this process to a technical team which may have less domain expertise.” 

Javed's point is well taken. A data-literate workforce results in better and more confident decision making in all departments, ensuring that everyone is empowered to use data and combine it with their expertise. Data literacy has also been known to lead to a new flush of creativity, often among those who had never before meaningfully considered the role of data in their lives or work. Wider access to data, and the ability to understand and work with it, leads to an overall increase in data-driven decisions, an ability to notice patterns and potential projects, and the knowledge of when and how to discuss these topics with in-house data scientists. 

But for a data-driven culture to take hold where you work, it has to permeate the organization and be championed by the leadership team through their actions and expectations. This cultural shift requires the constant asking and re-asking of the question, “What data supports or contradicts this decision?” coupled with the long-term investment in employee professional development toward data literacy.

Want to learn more about what steps you should take in order to foster a data-literate workforce? Start by diving into two important aspects of Data Literacy: Purposeful Metrics and Meaningful Visualizations as we host a free two-part training series on August 5th and August 12th. Learn more and register here

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