Big data has become one of the primary drivers of modern business, but for companies to effectively utilize data for business strategy development, operational improvements and result evaluation, employees must understand that data. The online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Specialization in Information Systems program from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) will prepare you to strengthen and support business information systems and data literacy within your organization.
Promoting Organizational Data Literacy Is Critical to Your Success — and Your Company’s
Data literacy is the ability to comprehend, utilize and effectively communicate data within its relevant context. This includes understanding data sources, constructs, analytical methods and techniques employed, as well as the capacity to articulate the use case, application and resulting value of the data. For every individual employee and every workforce, data literacy serves as a fundamental element of digital dexterity — the aptitude and inclination to leverage business technologies.
While data skills have traditionally been confined to IT or business intelligence teams, their significance extends across departments and throughout the organizational structure. Cultivating a data-driven work culture necessitates collective company efforts.
Given that different departments and management levels often possess diverse skill sets and exhibit varying interests in specific data sets, their communication requirements will also differ. However, your ability to effectively communicate data remains universally advantageous in any role or pursuit, as it facilitates collaboration with colleagues and contributes to the overall value provided to the organization.
How to Communicate Data Insights to Employees and Stakeholders
Effective data communication is crucial for leveraging its potential impact. Consider the following strategies to improve data communication and empower others to utilize it:
- Tailor your data presentation to meet specific audience needs. Adapt your data presentation to cater to the varying requirements and interests of different organizational roles. CEOs may seek high-level insights, while frontline staff may need actionable specifics.
- Enhance your message with visuals. Combine visual elements with verbal explanations to enhance comprehension and retention. Incorporate charts, colors and photos to make the information more memorable and facilitate better understanding.
- Use data visualizations. Create visually consistent and easily understandable graphs and figures. Consistency in formatting choices, such as graph types and colors, avoids overwhelming your audience. Regularly sharing data through easily understood visualizations reinforces understanding and increases comfort levels.
- Present key takeaways upfront. Respect your audience’s time by immediately highlighting the most important findings. Follow a newspaper article approach, conveying essential information in the headline before providing specific details relevant to the audience.
- Address the how and why. Anticipate potential audience questions and be ready to provide answers. Explain the data collection process, statistical methods used and reasons behind specific choices. Proactively addressing these queries enhances credibility, even if they don’t arise during the presentation.
How to Establish Data Literacy Training Programs
Chief data officers and their teams must implement comprehensive training programs to tackle organizations’ data literacy and skill deficiencies. These initiatives foster a more data-driven company culture.
To spearhead this endeavor, start by identifying individuals with a natural fluency in data. Look within your company’s ranks of business analysts, data stewards and architects who effortlessly converse in the language of data. Find skilled translators who can bridge the gap between the data-centric realm and the business groups they serve. Next, pinpoint areas where communication barriers hinder the utilization of data’s full potential in achieving business objectives. Then conduct thorough data literacy assessments to identify gaps, using the results as a foundation for improvement.
Creating a vibrant and open learning environment that promotes engagement can improve data literacy education efforts. Forego traditional slides and presentations and explore alternative training methods such as interactive games and other creative approaches. Consider organizing a data literacy proof-of-concept workshop in areas where language barriers are prevalent. Encourage participants to describe real-life common use cases, as well as ones specific to your organization. Document the insights gained from these exercises, repeat them and share your valuable lessons with other groups to enhance awareness and comprehension of the data literacy gap.
Bear in mind that data and analytics leaders, along with their teams, must lead by example. Your broader mission is to ensure that data becomes the common language in your organization’s discussions regarding business outcomes. Act as a champion for data literacy and fervently advocate for the benefits of bridging the data literacy gap.
How to Measure the Success of Data Literacy Initiatives
Measuring the success of data literacy initiatives can be approached through several key indicators. One way is to assess the overall increase in data literacy skills among employees, which can be measured through pre-and post-training assessments. Tracking the number of employees who have completed data literacy training programs and evaluating their performance and confidence levels in working with data can provide insights into your program’s effectiveness.
Monitoring the adoption and utilization of data-driven decision-making practices across departments, as well as the incorporation of data literacy concepts into daily operations, can also indicate the success of your initiatives. Following training sessions and at periodic intervals, feedback surveys can provide qualitative data on their perception of the value gained from the training and the extent to which employees apply their newly acquired data literacy skills in their roles.
If you want to become a data leader and institute data literacy programs and best practices in your organizations, a great first step is earning your MBA in Information Systems online from UNCW’s AACSB-accredited Cameron School of Business.
Learn more about UNCW’s online MBA in Information Systems program.