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Making better decisions with data literacy

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Empowering organisations to make better decisions with data literacy

This article on data literacy was also published on Public Spectrum on 4th March 2024. Read it here.

In this age, data is critical. It is the lifeblood of business and a common element across every industry.  However, the capability of individuals to read, work with, analyse and communicate using data varies dramatically within organisations – even within those with high levels of data maturity.

Gartner defines data literacy as “the ability to read, write and communicate data in context. This includes understanding data sources and constructs, analytical methods and the techniques applied, and the ability to describe the use-case application and resulting value”.

So, what difference does data literacy make?

Let’s look at a few examples.

In healthcare, the ability to analyse, interpret and use patient data can mean the difference between life and death, or recovery versus prolonged illness. Clinical reasoning and decision support are influenced by a diverse range of objective and subjective data including laboratory tests, vitals, patient surveys and pathology results. Clinical intelligence cannot be gained without considering data analysis and interpretation of a wealth of data.

In environmental science, data informs increasingly complex global issues such as climate change. Yet the lack of a commonly shared data language may be contributing to the diverse interpretations of climate data and climate science concepts including causes, effects and solutions.

In the resources industry, how the workforce interprets data and associated terminology informs where to drill, how deep to drill, what to extract, what to import/export etc. If it is misinterpreted, economic prosperity, sustainability and liveability, safety and the environment may be at risk.

In the world of corporate and commercial governance, all board members and executives must, at a minimum, understand the data reflected in the financial reports and charts required to guide the strategic direction of their organisations. This is just as important as the ability to prepare a well-constructed business case for future investment based on concrete, accurate and relevant figures. 

Data literacy underpins each decision.

Poor data literacy can often hinder success

Across every industry, being able to recognise discrepancies in data, interpret visualisations and communicate confidently with data is paramount and the cost of not understanding the context of data is enormous. Despite this, building a culture of data literacy remains a challenge for most organisations. 

Recent research highlights that less than 21% of the global workforce feels confident in their data literacy skills, and 60- 73% of data is not even analysed.

With more and more employees expected to use data heavily in their jobs, improving data literacy should be of key importance to business and executive leaders.

So, how do we improve it?

As consultants, GWI is fortunate to support organisations on their journey towards becoming a data-literate workforce. We help our customers understand where their existing capabilities are, and give them a roadmap to uplift these capabilities and achieve their business goals.

GWI has worked closely with several organisations in a wide variety of sectors including local government, entertainment and financial services, to develop their data literacy.

Case Study: A data literacy journey for local government

Since 2021, GWI has supported a local Council to enhance data literacy capabilities across the organisation.

We first conducted a Data Literacy Assessment, in the form of a survey, to determine existing data literacy levels and identify gaps to address. These results informed the development of a robust Data Literacy Framework and Training Needs Analysis, which would support Council in reaching the target state.

Following this, GWI was engaged to provide a Data Literacy Training Program and Implementation Plan which included:

      • A roadmap tailored for different staff profile group

      • List of identified gaps in existing online training platforms

      • High-level design of training courses to fill identified gaps.

    GWI also designed a communications plan, including a checkpoint survey, tailored to each staff profile group, to measure data literacy uplift across the three-year program.

    The impact

    The Data Literacy Training Program will be rolled out to all staff with courses targeted to their specific staff profile group, providing them with the training they need to uplift data literacy.

    Improving workforce data literacy will ensure staff have the necessary skills to read, analyse, work with and communicate with data, enabling them to leverage high-quality data to make evidence-based decisions that improve services and outcomes for community members.

    Data literacy is integral to driving business value. Don’t let your organisation fall behind.

    GWI’s unique experience in the Data Literacy space will guide your organisation on the journey to becoming a full data-driven workforce. Read some of the work we’ve done and get in touch today

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