How higher Data Literacy can transform your business

Pankaj Muthe, Academic Program Manager, APAC, QlikData’s growing importance is driven chiefly by its abundance. With our lives now playing themselves out just as much on the digital sphere as they are in the real world, every action we take – every decision we make – has become a data point.
Businesses are increasingly looking to leverage this access to information to significantly enhance their end-user service delivery, as well as to optimise their internal operations. As a result, data has emerged as one of the most important enterprise resources today, if not the most important.
In contravention to common belief, however, enterprise data is not about how much information organisations can accumulate. Rather, it is about how they can use the available information to further their business objectives.

The true worth of enterprise data lies in extracting actionable insights that are locked deep within data toenable swifter, more accurate decision-making at the point of need. It is all about finding connections between disparate datasets to unearth hidden value – value that would otherwise have gone unrealised – and to power narratives with hard factual information for better outcomes.
Doing so, in a world where we are inundated with data from all sides,is nearly impossible without a data literate workforce. Businesses today need professionals who can read, work with, analyse, and question the available information, more than ever before.

According to the recent Data Literacy Index report commissioned by Qlik, up to $500 million in enterprise value remains unrealised due to the low levels of data literacy within the global business ecosystem.On the other hand, organisations which have embraced the core principle behind data literacy – that everyone who manages data should be comfortable working with it – are already reaping significant benefits that data has been driving for them.

How greater data literacy has helped organisations become more effective and efficient
To understand how higher levels of data literacy can help modern-day enterprises, let us take the case of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary in the UK.
With several thousand calls received on a weekly basis, the need to nurture an organisation-wide culture of data literacy was apparent.The county realised that, in order to serve and protect the community more efficiently, it needed its police officers to be more confident while handling the data generated.
This was achieved by dividing the entire police force across the county into small teams and launching focused data literacy training initiatives. Internal data literacy champions were identified and encouraged to share their knowledge and skills within their teams. The data from the various training modules was also used toidentify individuals who needed more support and handholding with regards to their data literacy competencies.

The push towards greater data literacy and democratisation enabled police officers at the Avon and Somerset Constabulary to make smarter decisions. By understanding, challenging, and applying data, they were able to identify trends and spot risks, which in turn helped them to protect the community in stronger ways.

Higher data literacy helped key stakeholders in the county to manage officer workloads in a way that not only positioned them to react to possible criminal incidents, but by preventing the said incidents in the first place. Collaborations and knowledge sharing between different precincts also became easier, more streamlined, and value-driven. Crime rates went down significantly and the 999 emergency response became swifter and more accurate, even as case resolution rates increased.

Something similar was done by Nemours Children’s Health System, a US-based non-profit children’s healthcare system. With the company having access to massive volumes of EHR data from across the country, it decided to leverage this information to enhance its quality of patient care and clinical research, as well as to improve positive medical outcomes.
The challenge it faced, however, was that a large percentage of its workforce didn’t even know what data they had access to. To address this situation and to improve data literacy across the board, Nemours developed a unique initiative called the Data Swagger Sessions. Through curated tutorials, the company was able to raise awareness on how data can help individuals to take better decisions and generate timely, actionable insights that can improve their performance.

The data literacy initiative empowered Nemours’ citizen developers and citizen analysts with the skills they needed to take ownership of available data. It additionally allowed them to add greatervalue by not only providing in-depth answers to queries presented, but by anticipating related questions around the original query. This helped in accelerating problem-solving and allowed the right data to be provided to the right user at the right time.

Evaluating outcomes also allowed Nemours to build novel evidence-based clinical pathways and standardise work processes, which in turn reduced clinical risk and enabled the delivery of more efficient and effective end-patient care. Higher data literacy also allows for a deeper view of various operational aspects, helping the company to plan ahead, take better decisions, minimise operational expenses, and swiftly identify and capitalise on emerging opportunities.

There is no denying that technology is unleashing widespread transformations in the way organisations operate. With artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation becoming increasingly integral to businesses processes, businesses need to quickly build data literacy skills within their workforce.

Thanks to the growing familiarity that we share with technology today, we don’t often pay heed to the fact that we are currently sitting in the eye of the perfect storm. The shape that our tech-led future will eventually take, however, depends upon our readiness at present– not sometime in the distant future, but right now. And there is no area where we need to be more ready than that of data, the lifeblood of modern-day organisations.