Data Literacy - The Road Towards a Data Driven Culture

April 27, 2021
By Jamie Webb

If you watch me perform DIY, it will quickly become apparent that the right tools in the wrong hands are ineffective. As my thumbs can attest to, a hammer in the wrong hands can deliver more damage than good.

Data Literacy - The Road Towards a Data Driven Culture

We are surrounded by more and more data in our everyday lives. Casual sports fans will have noted the prominence of stats surrounding every single possible action in a game, with many actively holding up their favourites against another in a battle of wills. At times, these are considered and thought-provoking debates – in other states, misinformed and lacking wider context. Bookmakers capitalise on this, advertising the stats available across betting markets.

It is clear that data has penetrated popular culture. This bleeds into the business world and there is no going back. But how has this happened? Moore’s Law, a prediction that computer processing doubles every two-year period has helped to increase the speed at which data tasks can be performed. Actions previously implausible outside of huge, dedicated facilities, have become a reality to the everyday user. The capability and scale of data storage options aligns to this, as yesterday’s “big data” can often now be referred to as “data”.

Data Literacy, is the measure of one’s ability to effectively understand, contextualise, interpret, and communicate data into meaningful action. The challenge is new, the majority of working age employees are ‘self-taught’ in this respect and many feel alienated in the shift towards a data driven culture. Pandoras box is open, adaptation is necessary and organisations need to support employees to develop accordingly.

Your ability to show analytical thinking, leverage data as an asset and plot next steps is a likely theme for QBRs. A puppy is not just for Christmas - data analysis is not just a quarterly exercise. To be data driven, you need the entire team to live by the data day-to-day, it is a progressive cultural shift that is required.

Maybe, just maybe, you and your team are adequately prepared to go all in with data, but are you confident your data is ready for you?

The wrong tools in the right hands will result in wasted potential. If your data is siloed, incoherent, lacking context or purpose, you will fall at the first hurdle. Trust is necessary to live by the data and if it is not transparently presented / reliable – gut feeling will overrule all decisions. It seems simple, but accessibility to the right data whenever you need it is fundamental to remain agile and focussed.

It is exactly why Business Intelligence (BI) platforms hold a firm place in the market, and why companies like Salesforce have taken note with the acquisition of Tableau in recent years, to stand alongside other market leaders Microsoft and Qlik. Having worked in the industry during my formative years, this was just a matter of time as a development in the marketplace.

Securing a BI platform license isn’t enough. Pretty visualisations alone, are not enough. We are searching for something greater – meaning. Yes, access is necessary. Yes, visualisations can help the interpretation of data. But everything must be created with absolute care to subtle details, an understanding of what the data is for and why it is going to be used. Data structure is immensely experience making or breaking in this regard. Everything starts with purpose and meaning, otherwise you could buy a beautiful painting for less.

When contemplating a new dashboard, always start with why. Are you attempting to understand the performance of emails within a nurture? Are you looking into your entire sales funnel to identify the attribution of marketing campaigns? Are you reviewing your marketing budget spend?

Take interest into each data source, understand what drives the data points and how these relate to one another. Think beyond the first question and appreciate the context that is required behind metrics available. Armed with a dashboard which achieves this, with the appropriate skills to interpret the data and the willingness to be driven forwards by it, you can be data driven success story, on track towards impressive results.

In closing, remember that data does not necessarily mean insight… and that insight does not always lead to the correct action being taken. Even the most informed decisions can lead to failure, but it certainly improves your overall chances vs a punt. Strategically, you will need to show some patience, resilience and focus to keep progressing your data driven culture.

With the right people, being given the right context, empowered by the right tools at the right time, you have a winning formula for success. Now don’t forget to give the post a thumbs up (like), and remember that you do not need suffer with a ‘throbbing thumb’ when it comes to delivering on your vision of data driven marketing.

Written by Jamie Webb – Senior Digital Marketing Specialist, CRMT Digital

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