Have you heard of the data science skills gap? If not, you are likely going to in the near future. The fact is, this is something that is growing. Also, more organizations are starting to list these skills gaps as being a significant barrier to their overall digital transformation efforts.
In most cases, when an organization discusses a lack of skills, they are discussing operational skills. However, a recently commissioned Data Literacy Project has highlighted the real scale and impact of this problem.
After a survey of a few hundred decision makers, which was created and conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, it was discovered that only 24 percent of all senior decision-makers were able to pass the data literacy test. This isn’t something that can be blamed on a generational problem, either, as the study discusses that among digital natives data literacy was only at 22 percent.
The Variable Picture
The data that was accumulated offered even more granularity to the findings across both industry and geography. For example, Singapore has emerged as being the most data literate country that participated in the survey. Another country that scored well was Europe, with France, Germany and the United Kingdom all trumping the United States.
The argument could be made that the nations of the EU scored higher due to the intense amount of focus that was placed on data by the newly enacted GDPR regulation. This is something that came to fruition in May of 2018, with the aforementioned report also citing a higher recognition of how important data is among the European executives compared to their peers from other places in the world.
These listed differences matter, though, as the data has suggested that the missing data literacy can actually cost a company or organization a few hundred million dollars in total lost value, while higher data literacy has also been linked to a better gross margin, return-on-equity, and return-on-assets.
The Gap of Knowing-Doing
Despite the fact that many executives do value what data offers their business, there are few who are doing anything about it. The fact is, most of these individuals aren’t literate themselves, but they aren’t supporting their employees or encouraging them to be data literate, either.
The data has shown that only about 17 percent of businesses are actually encouraging their workers to become more comfortable and confident with data, and only 34 percent are offering any type of training for data literacy. Also, only 36 percent of companies have stated that they would be willing to pay higher salaries for individuals who had these data skills.
For many, this represents a huge, missed opportunity, as a former report revealed that the total number of employees who wanted to invest in improving their overall data literacy was high. It was Indian employees that led the way, with 95 percent of total employees eager to improve their overall data literacy, but there were similar numbers that were recorded elsewhere, as well – including 82 percent of all American employees and 76 percent of German workers.
Improving Total Data Literacy
There were several tips provided in the report as well, which highlighted what organizations need to do to improve their overall data literacy. These include:
Understanding your total data literacy level: This is vital to understand, as you need to know where you are beginning your data journey. There are tools provided by the Data Literacy Index which shows organizations how to assess overall data literacy, with businesses having the ability to compare their efforts against others in their industry and their country.
Communicate data’s power: If your organization believes that data has the ability to transform your business, then you have to communicate this so that employees are not in doubt. This is not something that needs to be done just with mission statements, but through success stories of the way data has helped to improve the business overall.
Provide individualized training: It’s suggested that even with few employees being trained, those who do receive data training often state that it was not relevant. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and the training needs to be customized when this is an option.
You can then use this as an ongoing process of renewal, which is the perfect way to respond to the ever-changing data needs that an organization has. When you have a clear connection between financial performance and data literacy, it can benefit your company in multiple ways. For most businesses and organizations, this is a process that is not able to begin soon enough. Data literacy is not a passing trend, as it is going to shape the way businesses and organizations perform and whether or not they are successful both now and in the future.
Data Needs to Be Understood
In order to understand your company's data, you'll need the right talent on hand. Organizations hire entire teams to be able to read and interpret the data they have so that they can take advantage of that information. If you're looking to hire professionals to help you sift through important data points or looking to find a specific role to add to your team, contact ICS and we'll partner with you to find the right fit. Click below to start down the road to data literacy.