In the future, when we look back on the current era, there’s a decent chance that it will be earmarked as the moment when big data first entered the world of business. While data has always played a role in driving key decisions for organizations, the scale at which it is doing so in 2022 is orders of magnitude bigger than ever before. It’s almost as if we’ve woken a sleeping giant that now looms large over strategic direction, operational choices, marketing campaigns, customer research, and so much more.
But as most of us realise, there is useful data and not-so-useful data. And merely having it at your disposal doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re able to discern between these two camps. It’s often only in the processing phase where we dig into the data and look for insights that we discover whether the data we’ve collected can actually drive us forward, rather than remaining a red herring.
What is data literacy?
These evaluations about the quality and usefulness of internal data are as much an art as they are a science. Everything is contextual and has specific implications depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some skills that we can pick up that allow for better interpretations of the data we’re looking at.
This skill is often called data literacy and is quite simply defined as “the ability to derive meaningful information from data”. In our modern world, this is incredibly important to get good at, and to instill throughout your organization as so much of business today relies on it. The more data literate your organisation is, the stronger your competitive advantage is in the marketplace.
How do you improve your data literacy?
There are three main components to improving your data literacy throughout your company:
- Leverage the right technology. You’re relying on your tools for data collection, cleaning, processing, and visualization – so it goes without saying that they’ll have an outsized impact on the value you can get from your data. Within the world of FP&A, the entire industry is working to make this easier and more efficient so that you can maximize the insight you’re able to extract. Here at Apliqo, we’re building tools that can automate much of this and deliver stunning visual depictions of otherwise complex datasets to help you make better decisions.
- Educate your people. Training your staff about how to work with data is also incredibly important. Many companies only think that this should apply to technical roles but, in truth, everyone in the organisation needs to understand the principles of working with data – because it has made its way into every sphere of business. Spend the time and effort educating your people and you’ll ensure better logic, workflows, and processes that ultimately lead to better decisions.
- Create real ownership and accountability. A dataset is only valuable if it is well-maintained and structured in a way that can be used effectively. The way you do this is by having clear accountability around every dataset that you rely on. Nominate an owner of each and tie incentives to key metrics so that they take the job seriously. This ensures consistency across the company and that high standards are maintained – which has knock-on effects for all the places where that data eventually gets used.
Just by focusing attention on these three steps, you’ll find that you can make your company-wide data literacy much more robust and enable better application of the insights you’re deriving. Here at Apliqo, our FP&A tools are built for modern businesses that want to extract the maximum value possible from the data within their organisations. If you’d like to explore what this looks like for you, get in touch today. We’d love to hear from you.