E-Handbook:

How to develop a data literacy program in your organization

Don't let a lack of data literacy hold you back on analytics

Self-service business intelligence is now the dominant form of BI, and citizen data scientists do advanced analytics work in many organizations. Both approaches involve business analysts, executives and workers in BI and analytics applications. But if those users aren't data literate, they may just be wasting their time -- and their employer's money.

Data literacy is the ability to understand data, work with it to generate useful information and communicate the analytics results to others. The growth of self-service BI especially is driving organizations to create data literacy programs to ensure that business users have the data knowledge and skills they need.

In many cases, it's still a work in progress. Only 20% of the 395 respondents to a 2021 TDWI survey said they thought their organization was fully data literate. Common barriers include a lack of analytics skills and an organizational culture that doesn't value the use of data, TDWI analyst Fern Halper wrote in a report about the survey. She also cited technical issues, particularly data silos and inadequate data management and analytics tools.

Halper recommended formal data literacy training and more casual options, such as lunch-and-learn sessions and office hours. Online portals that contain information about data literacy and software documentation are also helpful, she said. And so is getting executive buy-in for a data literacy program as part of an overall BI and analytics strategy. It's a lot of work. But, she added, "the effort is worth it."

This handbook examines data literacy in more depth and provides additional insight and advice on why it's important and how to create a solid framework for data literacy in an organization. It also explores how investments in data literacy can help improve data quality and integrity.

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