Data Literacy

What is data literacy?

Data literacy describes the ability to understand and work with data, which involves reading, writing, querying and communicating it in context. This involves the ability to correctly read and interpret graphs, charts and reports, the ability to evaluate data sources and an understanding of the analytical methods used to prepare the data.

A data literate individual knows what data is available to them, how they can combine it, what kind of information they can gather from it and how to communicate their conclusions. This means that they can generate meaningful and ideally actionable information from the data they read, without having to go through complex statistical analysis or performing analytics themselves.

Why is data literacy important in the workplace?

Getting the right data to the right people at the right time is absolutely key to business success, making data literacy an essential skill. However, there is clearly a lack of data literate workers at the moment: an Accenture survey revealed that only 21% of workers were fully confident in their data literacy skills. This lack of data literacy extends all the way to the top of organisations. According to a Deloitte survey from 2019, 67% of those in management positions say they are not comfortable accessing or using data from their tools and resources.

This is particularly concerning as organisations increasingly employ data analytics software that rely on the user to have the ability to interpret and understand the data. Poor data literacy in an organisation renders these tools ineffective. While most larger organisations have IT and data specialists, data literacy is crucial in many departments, including marketing, HR, development and sales, as we all interact with vast amounts of information daily.

As the demand for data skills exceeds supply, data literacy skills are a valuable asset in any organisation and can give individuals a competitive edge over other candidates. Data literate workers make data-driven decisions, making them more effective and driving business growth, and they can reliably use and interact with data analytics and business intelligence tools.