Data Literacy

What is data literacy, and why does it matter for your organization?

What is data literacy?

Data literacy is the ability to read, work with, analyze and communicate with data. It’s a skill that empowers all levels of workers to ask the right questions of data and machines, build knowledge, make decisions, and communicate meaning to others.

Why is data literacy important for your business?

IDC, global provider of market intelligence, forecasts a ten-fold increase in worldwide data by 2025. Increasingly, data-driven organizations will produce data literate employees that contribute more to their roles and help businesses sharpen their competitive edge in an aggressive global economy.

It’s a strategy that can transform your business, while building loyalty with a workforce that’s energized and empowered by your investment in their professional development.

More resources:

“Large enterprises with strong corporate data literacy have shown up to 5% higher enterprise value — $320 - $534 million.”

  • Image displaying the number 24%
    Business decision makers confident in their ability to use data
  • Image displaying the number 32%
    C-suite leaders viewed as data literate
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    16 to 24-year-olds who qualify as data literate


Data Literacy: The Upskilling Evolution

Based on insights from influential industry experts and a global survey of over 1,200 executives and 6,000 employees, our latest data literacy study found that the data literacy crisis shows no sign of slowing down as the gap between expectation and reality continues to widen. Revealing the pressures on organizations and individual employees as we continue to move toward a data-oriented and automated workplace, the study helps you understand the upskilling requirements needed to take full advantage of data – now and in the future.

Data literacy in today’s enterprise

Nearly every business is dealing with an incredible amount of data. But collecting it isn’t the same as understanding it — and we’re facing a critical skills gap. Low data literacy is holding many teams back, and stalling data analysis and digital transformation initiatives across the enterprise.
  • Business leaders

    Gartner promotes data and information as the second language of business. Yet new research shows that business leaders are struggling to understand and work with data themselves. And that’s leading to widespread deficiency in data confidence.

    “In a recent Censuswide survey on behalf of Qlik, of more than 7,300 business decision makers, just 24% consider themselves data literate.”

    Without data literacy, leaders can’t thrive in today’s analytics economy nor can they drive any cultural change toward leading with data across their organizations.

  • Employees

    Employees without the skills to work with data are struggling to match the performance of their data-savvy colleagues. This isn’t surprising given the vast amounts of information being produced every day.

    “Despite 92% of business decision makers believing it is important for their employees to be data literate, only 17% report that their business significantly encourages employees to become more confident with data.”

“The more empowered employees are to read, write, analyze and argue with data, the more they will be able to contribute to their roles and the future of their organizations.”

Data Strategist and Best-Selling Author, Bernard Marr

How data literacy can advance your career

Qlik's recent survey showed that the vast majority — 85% — of data literate employees say they’re performing very well at work, compared with just 54% of the wider workforce. This represents a significant opportunity for businesses to transform existing cultures without much resistance from their employees.

Workers willing to invest more time and energy into improving their data skillsets

Illustration of global data literacy rates by country.
  • 94% of people using data in their current job role agree that data helps them do their job better.

  • 82% believe that greater data savviness would give them more credibility in the workplace.

  • 78% would be willing to invest more time and energy into improving their data skillsets if given the chance.

5 critical data literacy challenges for business leaders

Maintaining competitive advantage means that every employee in an enterprise — not just the data scientists — must be data literate for them to effectively contribute to the organization. Yet research has identified vast inequalities between people who feel empowered and proficient in using data, and those who don't.

1. Workforce resistance

Large organizations are built on years of tradition. Raising awareness that the business is moving to a data-driven culture will be critical to success.

2. No data champion

Because resistance may come from the top, data champions need a seat at the table such as a Chief Data Officer (CDO) or Chief Analytics Officer (CAO).

3. Lack of governance

Enterprises are experiencing unprecedented levels of data production and consumption, which is why leadership must be responsible for data governance to ensure insights are properly vetted.

4. Employee insecurity

21% of 16-24-year-olds rank themselves below average in their confidence using data. The opportunity for businesses to leverage young people’s digital savvy as students enter the workforce is enormous.

5. Organizational silos

Data literate employees typically join IT or BI teams, and are often isolated from business decision makers. Establishing forums for these employees to share knowledge is critical to enhancing skills across the organization.

Illustration showing the seven elements of the Qlik data literacy program.

Discover how Qlik can help drive data literacy in your organization

We’re on a mission to provide the education, technology, and business strategies that create a data-literate world — where everyone can speak the language of data, and use it with confidence to make discoveries that change the game.

Regardless of the size or focus of your business, you can develop an in-house program by following our 6-step approach. As teams cycle through the program, literacy will deepen across the organization, and you'll enjoy a workforce that’s energized, empowered and loyal.

  • Principle 1: Foster a culture of humility and curiosity

    Go beyond the data. Develop non-technical skills like curiosity, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration to gain different perspectives and challenge your own assumptions about the data.
  • Principle 2: Encourage employees to put training into practice

    Reach a point where people instinctively analyze and question the data that’s in front of them to drive in-the-moment insights, smarter decisions, and action.
  • Principle 3: Bring everyone on the journey

    According to Qlik’s latest global study, 59% of employees globally say they want to become more data literate. Everyone from the intern to the CEO should feel empowered.
  • Principle 4: Focus on the desired outcomes

    The first step to effectively using data is understanding and being clear on the problem you want to solve.
  • Principle 5: Measure the impact of your efforts

    Demonstrate real value by tracking employee satisfaction and retention. This can offer a short- term measurable analytic before other KPIs can be measured.
  • Principle 6: Adopt a systemic perspective

    Empower different areas of the organization to work together to support each other on the journey. Connect the dots and see how and where data literacy can strengthen the business.
  • Principle 7: Decide what technology can meet your business needs

    Closely evaluate what can work best for your business and its specific needs. Match the technology to the processes and goals of your own company, rather than what’s popular.

Education and Adoption Program

Our industry-leading Data Literacy Program offers comprehensive education and consulting options as well as technology and training support for university students through the Academic Program.

Organizational Benchmarking

Understand your organizations’ comfort level using data, and benchmark your enterprise against its peers.

Leadership Workshop

Enable leaders to develop strategies that transform their organization to be data driven.

Individual Assessments and Certification

Our comprehensive exam is designed to validate your expertise, and is available remotely.

Instructor-led learning

Immersive, hands-on training courses delivered by world class instructors.

Self-paced learning

Online learning modules, videos, reference guides and quizzes offer broad-based skills development.

Data Literacy Program

Drive adoption with product-agnostic consulting. You’ll work with our Data Literacy Advisor on implementing a successful Data Literacy Program leveraging our proven 6-step adoption framework.

The right technology for a data-driven culture

Central to our mission is to build technology that can raise data literacy for people at all levels of an organization. Qlik Sense® removes the roadblocks caused by mountains of disorganized data and the limitations of linear, query-based data exploration — accelerating data literacy across the organization. 

  • All data, in everyone’s hands

    Want the most value from your data? Give everyone in your workforce access to it. Qlik Sense takes raw data from all corners of your enterprise and transforms it into analytics-ready information anyone can access and explore.

  • Freedom to explore

    Qlik Sense’s one-of-a-kind Associative Engine connects every piece of data with every other piece. Now, anyone can dive in and explore information without boundaries, discovering hidden insights as they go. No queries, and no waiting required.

  • Human curiosity, amplified

    Curiosity can lead to effective insights, but combine it with the power of AI and there's no limit to what we can discover. Qlik Sense taps into our natural intuition and sharpens its power with machine intelligence. This is true augmented analytics. You’ll call it more brain power.

Data Literacy Success Stories

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