How future-focused organisations are enabling their data teams to drive innovation

Digital skills shortages in 2023

The digital skills shortage is reportedly costing the UK economy £12.8bn per year, with 55% of organisations facing skills shortages. Data is at the centre of many businesses’ digital transformations but recruiting and retaining the most qualified data experts is difficult in the current economic climate.

46% of businesses have struggled to recruit for roles that require data skills and to remedy this problem. Businesses have to look at their expectations from their people and leverage those with the strongest data experience to work on impactful projects. The alternative is you risk losing them to employers with the scope to offer them more.

Driving Company-Wide Data Literacy

To maximise the potential and value of your data teams, businesses need to improve their overall data literacy. Data teams find themselves under increasing pressure due to the overall data health of organisations being poor. The average employee should and can have a good understanding of data and how to use it effectively for their work. With a higher level of data literacy across your organisation, your specialists and experts can focus on high-value, impactful projects to feed their interest and benefit the wider business.

Understanding data literacy

The Gartner definition for data literacy is “the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied, and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value.”

It is your employees’ ability to make the most of and utilise the latest technologies and related data effectively for improved business growth and outcomes. Striving for company-wide data literacy is essential to keep your dedicated data professionals focused on their more impactful projects and to empower your wider teams to derive and get the most from data.

Achieving Data Literacy

Traditionally organisations take a centralised or decentralised approach to driving cultural change in their organisations. These methods have their benefits, but we’re strong believers in the effectiveness of the Hub-and-Spoke method for delivering high levels of data literacy and developing the culture your organisation requires.

Rather than working in disconnected silos of expecting the data team to jump in when required in different departments, you ensure there are experts, specialists and data champions in every department. The method works around the “Hub”, which is the central data team, with proprietary control over the company’s data tools, standards and processes. The “Spokes” are your trained and knowledgeable data experts dispersed throughout your different departments, such as marketing, finance and operations. This method drives data literacy and allows the data team to innovate and drive business growth.

This organisational method is beneficial in several key ways:

  •   Breakdown bottlenecks: with experts in every department, there are no hold-ups or bottlenecks as data is accessible, understood and ready to use without constantly requiring the data team members’ input.
  •   Consistency: with a highly-trained central data team, you can be assured of the quality of your data and the controls in place.
  •   Decision-making: relying upon pure data ensures business decisions can be fact-based and backed up by truth, driving quicker and more reliable decision-making.
  •   Culture: transforming your organisation’s culture is much easier with experts in every department championing and data-literate future.
  •   Cost: with a shared understanding of your business data and the ability to use it freely, there is less time and money wasted on multiple systems to share the same information.

With a proven lack of data skills across UK businesses, it is vital to act to equip your people with the skills necessary to remain competitive and futureproof your business.


Getting your people engaged with data

Data gives your business a competitive edge, and your data employees are obvious believers in the power of data literacy. However, your wider team may not be so keen. To develop a truly data-first culture, you need your wider teams on board, engaged and interested in using data and maximising its value.

A recent report by ThoughtSpot found successful companies are enabling their frontline workers with better data insights to drive their decision-making. When employees are equipped with data skills, this report also showed that their companies had higher customer and employee satisfaction rates and higher productivity. Giving your people the skills to better understand and utilise your business data helps show them its value. Central to this is how you discuss data, the training you offer, and your commitment to ensuring all departments have their data champions.

Technology alone cannot show your employees how valuable your business data is. A shiny new SaaS platform will not show them how to use and interpret data. You need digital literacy training and skills development for this. Training empowers your people and equips them with the knowledge to utilise and analyse data appropriately for their roles. Your training programmes are further enhanced by your commitment to cross-functionality and data literacy across the company, with shared learning across different departments. While you may have some available-to-all data training opportunities, you should also ensure your data experts have access to the latest technologies and skills development programmes. This provision allows them to promote and spearhead data competency in their departments.

As your standard level of data literacy improves, your central data team can focus their efforts on the more meaningful and advanced projects. Data analytics and data engineering projects give your best data talents something interesting to engage with that can also be used to strengthen your organisation’s capabilities.

While initial engagement and interest in data may be low, the more accessible you make it and the more tools you give your employees, the more they will come to appreciate and understand its value.

Equip your people with essential data skills

Data literacy is a fundamental skill set for the new-age worker, whether they know it or not. Employers must push for a data-driven culture in their organisations, and accessing scalable data skills development programmes is a core part of this.

Corndel offers a range of strategic, scalable data skills development programmes funded by the Apprenticeship Levy. With Level 3 and Level 4 programmes, you can access the level of data skills training your employees need and push your commitment to a data-driven future for your business. Our Digital & Technology Solutions Professional Degree Apprenticeship is an effective way of providing your employees with advanced-level skills to power up and future proof their careers. The programme meets the growing digital and data demands of the modern workplace whilst also building technical expertise. The programme is ideal for recognising and supporting your top performers and giving them a springboard to advance and succeed in a wide range of in-demand IT and data roles.

While initial engagement and interest in data may be low, the mor accessible you make it and the more tools you give your employees, the more they will come to appreciate and understand its value.

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