Pandemic Exposes Data Literacy Crisis

A quarter of businesses still make decisions without using data

The pandemic has exposed an alarming shortage of data literacy skills among business decision makers, according to new research. Now more than ever, it is essential that leaders understand the strength of data skills across their teams, says Questionmark, the online assessment provider.

“It is crucial that managers introduce excellent data literacy training to ensure everyone can make the best possible decisions. For that training to be meaningful, leaders need a clear read on the strength of data skills across the organization.”

Data literacy is the ability to understand, apply and communicate with data. It is an increasingly vital business skill. By next year, 90% of corporate strategies will explicitly mention the ability to analyze data as an essential competency.1 But according to a new study, half of business leaders in the UK believe that the pandemic has exposed poor use of data across teams.

Just three in ten United Kingdom (UK) business leaders said their companies were using more data since the start of the pandemic. A quarter confessed that decisions were being made without data to back them up. Data is often not shared between teams and when it is, workers do not understand it sufficiently.2

The problem goes far beyond the UK. Additional research found that the consequences of employees being overwhelmed by data have cost the United States economy $109.4BN.3

Neil McGough, General Manager of Questionmark, said: “The shift toward doing things digitally during the pandemic means that most businesses have more access to information about their business processes than ever before. If they know how to understand it properly, they can dramatically increase their decision making and efficiency. But if workers don’t know what to do with the data, employers will be left sitting on untapped potential.

“It is crucial that managers introduce excellent data literacy training to ensure everyone can make the best possible decisions. For that training to be meaningful, leaders need a clear read on the strength of data skills across the organization.”

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The Questionmark Data Literacy by Cambridge Assessment test enables employers to measure data literacy skills across the workforce. The results indicate which team members can understand, apply, communicate with and evaluate data in their job role.

The assessment is aimed at anyone who might benefit from better understanding data. It covers:

  • Understanding data and data visualizations
  • Applying knowledge of data to understand its implications
  • Evaluating the quality and appropriateness of data
  • Communicating data appropriately and effectively
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