Every department, from marketing and HR to product and IT, requires intensive use of data for day-to-day tasks. As such, employees will need far more data training than most organizations currently do.
Here has RTInsights, we write and talk about all the fantastic innovations happening in real-time streaming and analytics. We often focus only on the technical side of things: new businesses, new databases and new methodologies that excite us and open up new opportunities for organizations. But what about the employees who are expected to use all these new and very complex tools? Do they have the skills and culture to succeed in a data-rich, technology-hungry organization? Is there a data literacy gap?
These questions are part of what a survey by Tableau and Forrester Consulting aims to answer, which has revealed two alarming gaps in how large organizations are thinking about and working towards the future of “data literacy”.
- Decision makers think they’re doing better with data-driven training than they actually are.
- Decision makers say their organization’s lack of data skills directly equates to negative outcomes, like making quick and accurate business decisions or accelerating the pace of innovation, but also believe that employees should train in the more specialized knowledge of the data that unlocks this potential.
The study found that 82% of leaders expect their employees to have basic data literacy skills, which the study defines as what is needed to “understand, explore, use, make decisions and communicate using data. While that might sound reasonable, only 40% of employees surveyed (the survey was split 50-50 between administrators and employees with at least 3 years of experience) said they were actively taking on-the-job training. job for the same data skills.
See also: Skill-based hiring could solve technical staff shortages
This is a dangerous gap between assumptions and reality, and it will only get worse in the years to come. The study found that the need for basic data skills has seen the greatest increase in demand over the past three years – more than project management, communications or IT skills – and Advanced data skills are now expected to be the most in demand over the next three years.
Every department, from marketing and HR to product and IT, requires basic data skills, and the survey shows that by 2025, almost 70% of employees are likely to use data in a meaningful way. intensive in their daily tasks.
This increase in demand requires a lot more data training than most organizations currently do, which is another area covered in the survey. 47% of organizations in the survey offer formal training for basic data skills, and just 33% do the same for the more advanced skills that will soon be in high demand. Skills in using data visualization tools or statistical data tools are most common. Yet only 27% of employees said they had received training on “basic ability to read data outputs relevant to my role.” In the majority of organizations, data training is delivered to people in traditional data roles, not the entire workforce.
Enter the second disconnect: Generally speaking, decision makers believe employees should take the lead in learning about data. This is inconsistent with the expectations they place on employees and the perceived risk of not developing fast enough.
Therefore, departments, teams, and individual employees design their own data skills programs. The most common way to do this is to follow colleagues who have more advanced skills through relevant data-related work. When department/team leaders attempt to launch a new data training initiative, they lack support, primarily in terms of budget, from decision makers at the Director, VP, or C-level.
So the common refrain you might hear from technology leaders that employees are unfairly reluctant to become a more data-driven organization doesn’t show up in Forrester’s data. The survey revealed that many employees were reluctant to request more training or actively complained about the quality of existing training for fear of retaliation for a lack of basic skills. Blaming them for not speaking up is tantamount to blaming the victim.
What can organizations do to create a data-friendly culture?
We talk about this exact problem in our new eBook, The RTInsights guide to streaming analyticswhich covers the technical aspects and cultural challenges around adopting flow analysis for the first time. This is the only guide where you will learn the pros and cons of DIY, local development and cloud. and how easily your culture can eat your brand new breakfast streaming strategy in an instant.
Forrester argues that enterprise-wide skills training is the way to go, especially if it involves outside expertise from consultants, technology vendors, or data literacy experts. By coordinating top-down, with the required budget in place, organizations can spread soft data skills while helping each department contextualize new skills for their domain.
Ravi Mistry, Football Intelligence Manager for City Football Group, says: “What you want to do is help your employees: show them how technology, data, all those different things can help them do their jobs better and help to almost fall in love. with what they do.