People-centric data strategies: five steps to achieve

By Mike Capone, CEO, Qlik

Organisations have undergone a significant evolution in their use of data this past decade. 

Where mitigating risk was the main focus, the C-suite priority has turned to empowering the workforce to extract greater value from data. 

New research from Qlik and Accenture looking at the Human Impact of Data Literacy revealed the majority of global employees are now expected to read, communicate with, and use data to inform their decisions on a weekly basis. 

However, many companies struggle to close the gap between this vision and the workforce’s ability to deliver on this in practice. An Accenture study from last year found only 32% of business executives were able to realize tangible and measurable value from data. 

To harness data’s potential, here are five practical steps any enterprise leader can implement today:

  1. Appoint a data champion responsible for delivering tangible results

To identify opportunities that align and tangibly impact the wider company objectives, the C-suite must appoint a data champion, typically a Chief Data Officer or the Chief Information Officer. They must act as a data ambassador across the organization, working with stakeholders to identify opportunities to maximize data use, along with executing a change management plan to transform processes as needed. 

  1. Get prepared

Just as you wouldn’t commit to organizational restructuring without a thorough analysis, you can’t embark upon a data strategy without an accurate understanding of the current state of data-informed decision making across the business.

Work with senior stakeholders of each department and the data champion to understand whether every employee has access to the necessary data and tools, along with assessing current and ideal data-related skill levels for every role. 

  1. Give people the right tools for the job

Work with the Chief Information Officer to ensure the data tools serve the needs of each user. Not only will these tools look different across skill levels, but they must be easily integrated into existing working practices to encourage adoption. 

  1. Invest in upskilling your workforce

The true benefits of data are realized when everyone in an organization is comfortable and confident using data. Yet, we’re facing a significant data literacy skills deficit: just one-fifth of the global workforce report they are confident in their ability to read, communicate with and make decisions using data. 

While data literacy training is a critical investment for enterprises, just one-third of executives of global firms previously reported their company provides it. As such, it presents an opportunity for market differentiation to improve the firm’s competitive edge. 

  1. Move with the opportunity

To better inform process and decision making, leaders have two critical responsibilities: first, they must ensure this process becomes ingrained in the organization’s DNA so data is always used effectively to improve competitive advantage. Second, they must ensure employee skill levels, access to data and tools are continuously reassessed to ensure they deliver on new opportunities.

For more information on business topics in Canada, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief North America

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