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GRAPEVINE, Texas -- In its campaign to champion data literacy, Qlik now offers a free data literacy certification that enables people -- both customers and non-customers -- to document and demonstrate their data literacy skills.
The need is there, according to Qlik research. Only 24% of employees worldwide are confident in their ability to read, work with, analyze and argue with data. Qlik's data literacy report also shows that 36% of business leaders are willing to pay more to data-literate employees.
"Increasing numbers of companies are realizing that a lack of data literacy is really holding them back from getting the most value out of their data," Forrester analyst Martha Bennett said in an interview at Qlik's Qonnections 2019 user conference. "Having a certification that allows people to prove that they have that skill sets an important signal."
Qlik introduced the data literacy certification program at the conference May 13.
A 70-question, two-hour examination measures performance in data skills that support better business decision-making in a digitized workplace, according to Qlik. This includes hard skills, such as understanding and interpreting data, as well as soft skills such as creativity, problem-solving and communicating. Successful candidates receive a certificate and a badge for their LinkedIn profiles, resumes and CVs. The certification is available now.
Martha BennettForrester analyst
The Qlik data literacy certification program could be useful, said Constellation Research analyst Doug Henschen.
"The data literacy [certification] announcement is a nice, proactive initiative, but it has yet to be seen whether it will be sustained and successful in broadening adoption of BI and analytics in general and Qlik software in particular," Henschen said.
Data literacy is becoming a necessity
The data literacy certification offering is the latest to come out of the Data Literacy Project, a program Qlik and several partners launched in the fall of 2018.
Since then, the need for data literacy has increased and it's becoming an imperative for all organizations, said Jordan Morrow, global head of data literacy at Qlik.
"It's vital to stay ahead of data and analytics trends, and expanding the Data Literacy Project allows us to provide valuable resources to all organizations around the world," Morrow said in an email. "The certification is a great achievement because it provides a tangible way for individuals to show and verify they are data literate, helping their organizations succeed more with the valuable asset of data."
Other analytics vendors are starting to tackle data literacy initiatives as well. Last fall, Qlik competitor Tableau partnered with AVADO to address the United Kingdom's data literacy skills gap. The two introduced a suite of data training programs and interactive courses designed to prepare a wide range of workers for the demands of a data-fueled economy.
Data literacy roadblocks
Organizations face many challenges executing data and analytics strategies, including data literacy.
"One of the biggest challenges is helping organizations get out of the habit of using 'gut' feel and experience to drive decisions," Morrow said. "Helping the culture understand that the right approach is a combination of two elements -- intuition and data -- is crucial. Also, getting organizations to go beyond embracing the cultural aspects and move to implementation remains one of the largest challenges, especially for larger organizations."
Despite these challenges, better data literacy at an organization is within reach, according to Morrow.
"Organization-wide data literacy is achievable and is key in helping an organization's culture evolve and succeed," Morrow said. "It's important to keep in mind that not everyone needs to be a data scientist, but everyone needs to be data literate."
Bennett echoed that, adding that she expects more to come from Qlik and its data literacy initiative as the vendor refines its approach.
"There are different levels of data literacy and not everybody needs to have the same degree of proficiency in the different elements that make up data literacy," she said.