Data literacy struggling to maintain pace with data growth

March 30, 2022

Skills shortages mean that it will become challenging to fill future emerging opportunities in the data industry.

Business data continues to rise in scale and spread across more platforms, but data literacy skills struggle to maintain pace. Most companies have the equivalent of an average of six platforms of data. While leaders are reasonably assured that their teams can analyse data, many employees are not as confident. New research concerning data literacy and management highlighted this pattern in several businesses worldwide.

The 2022 State of the Data and What’s Next report from Red Hat and Starburst explore how businesses gather and manage their data. Data Literacy: The Upskilling Revolution explored what skills people require to deliver data-focused strategies compared to the viewpoint of senior members.

The data literacy report from Qlik presented several predictions concerning how data-driven work will transform leadership teams over the next few years. Nearly all of the leaders surveyed stated that they intend to create and hire for these new data-focused roles within their organisation over the coming decade.

People are demanding data literacy training, but as in many work situations, there is a disconnect between senior leaders and their employees. C-level executives believe that over half of employees are data literate, while only 11% of employees agree with this statement. Furthermore, over 50% of senior leaders are confident in their data literacy, but 45% rely on their instincts rather than data to make critical decisions.

Employees are actively looking to improve their data skills, but the report suggests that only 27% have had formal training with practical experience. Individuals in customer service, finance, marketing and sales stated the need for data literacy exceeds the amount of training available today. People are also concerned that businesses fail to see the responsibility of supporting their teams with developing these skills. According to the survey, senior leaders tend to allocate training opportunities for people working specifically in data-focused roles but fail to recognise people working in other general fields.

This way of thinking can cause certain business areas to fall far behind, like HR and Procurement. This method can also create a decline in enterprise value, with the report suggesting that companies with higher data literacy skills can achieve a considerably higher value for their organisation. The report describes the efforts at PwC UK, which trained 17,000 of its 24,000 employees in data literacy and advocated a shift in the overall mindset of data.

The latest data report from Red Hat and Starburst indicates the scale of the ongoing learning challenge with data. Businesses have an average of 4 to 6 data platforms and up to 12 individual data systems. The complexity of systems increases as an organisation spreads its data over various platforms, and the risk of security heightens too. Respondents to the survey highlighted the automation of IT and data operations as the top priority to enable data systems to work together. Aside from the increase in data spreading across more platforms, the volume of information has increased rapidly.


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