Data is the new oil. In this unpredictable day and age, the insights derived from data are what guides organisations in the present and enables them to carve inroads into the future of growth.
In an exclusive webcast hosted by People Matters in partnership with Akrivia HCM, leaders from major companies that have successfully embarked upon the data transition shared their thoughts on key factors that sustain an organisation's ability to fully utilise this critical resource. Among the notable areas discussed were data literacy, a culture that embraces and supports the use of data, and getting past the stumbling blocks of data myths.
Data literacy: vision, proficiency, and future planning
“Data literacy is the ability of employees to read, work with, analyse, and communicate with data,” said Radhika Arora, Vice President and Group CHRO for Jakson Group. “It's a skill which empowers every worker in the organisation.”
That ability can be further broken down into three levels, believes Amit Sharma, CHRO of Volvo Group. The first is data literacy – being able to read and understand the data. The second is data proficiency, which involves being able to apply the data appropriately for various aspects of the organisation. And the third and highest level is data fluency, which comes when the use of data is so smoothly integrated into the organisation's processes that a state of unconscious competence has been attained.
At the organisational level, data literacy includes having a roadmap for a company-wide transformation while having the right structure for data governance and also simultaneously communicating that vision, said Ranjan Kumar, Chief Learning Officer of Akrivia HCM. This could manifest in several ways:
“A data literate organisation could be one which has mastered using data insights and analytics to increase the efficiency of its business operations, and also could be one which has created new operations, new opportunities, or might even require a change in the business models and also a new way of working,” he observed.
Building a data culture: mindset and leadership
To become truly data driven, organisations need to build a strong data culture. This calls for some important processes including a data-positive mindset among employees.
“Every employee in the company has to start thinking that the data which is available to him or her will add value,” said Radhika. In essence, she explained, people must first believe that the information they derive from the data is truly equipping them to make insightful decisions that will tangibly impact the business.
Next, the right infrastructure must be created. Most companies will have a variety of systems for their different business functions, ranging from HR to enterprise resource to customer management and project management, and an overarching system is needed to collate the data from all these systems. That is just the technological infrastructure; processes are also needed for the curation of the collected data, the setting of related targets, and the presentation of the data.
All this requires leadership. “It's the leadership who needs to set up that analytics operating model,” said Ranjan. “It's they who need to understand what are the desired insights and analytical capabilities while simultaneously restructuring the organisation for the kind of governance that they require. I would advise focusing more on data governance, the standards, the ethics and the levels of privacy and identifying the right business challenges, and the metrics from all the stakeholders in that business.”
Break the myths that hold us back
As organisations go about their transformation, they also need to be cognisant of the conscious or unconscious beliefs and prejudices that affect their decisions and may hold them back from making full use of the insights at their fingertips. Here are a few common myths around data literacy that the leaders warned against:
The myth that we will go back to the same old business models: Enterprises that cannot unlock the productivity inherent in technological change and advancement are the ones that fail and are replaced by their more agile competitors.
The myth that the future will be predictable: Successful enterprises are the ones that constantly change and adapt, updating and upgrading their operating models to incorporate the demands of the environment and the tradeoffs of changing workplace culture.
The myth that digitalisation and digitisation are the same: To simply implement the tools as a disconnected conversion of paper to online, without holistically changing the overall ecosystem and processes of the company, will get the organisation nowhere.
The myth that digitalisation is all about numbers: As powerful as data is, it only supports human judgement at the end of the day. Truly putting data to an appropriate use requires understanding of the story behind the numbers, the real people of whom the data is only a representation.
The myth that tools and training are enough to shift workplace culture: Digitalisation is a whole-of-organisation shift to a new way of working, and people will not adopt it automatically or just because they have attended training and been given access to new tools. Hence the leadership's involvement is critical along with careful change management.