The Human Impact of Data Literacy

Photo: Kevin Ku

#WorkTrends: The Human Impact of Data Literacy

Jordan Morrow joined Meghan M. Biro for the January 24, 2020 #WorkTrends podcast sponsored by Qlik. The topic: data literacy. It may sound simple enough, but it’s far from it. Meghan notes that 60% to 73% of all enterprise data is never analyzed. “Data remains a value that’s trapped by our own lack of understanding,” she said as she introduced Jordan. As global head of data literacy at Qlik and chair of the advisory board for the data literacy project, Jordan has long been involved in studying data literacy and had a lot to say about why we aren’t using data the way we could — or should. He came on to talk about the recent findings of a Qlik / Accenture report on the human impact of data literacy — and why globally, organizations miss countless opportunities because their employees aren’t trained to better use data. The report found that just 21% of the global working population are fully confident in their data literacy skills. In other words, the data on data literacy is pretty clear. There’s a huge productivity gap caused by our lack of data literacy.

In part, Jordan pointed out, we don’t know how to use data because we either think it needs to be isolated from any human experience, or we’d rather just go with the human experience and leave out the data. The truth is, we need both, he said. “To realize true potential with data, you need to combine the human element with the data and technology element.” 

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Meghan said, and asked Jordan if our current state of data illiteracy surprised him. It didn’t, he said — he’s been watching this evolution for years, and added that we’re way behind in terms of how we educate our young talent, not to mention students in schools. And of course data literacy should be taught in schools, both agreed. And in general, we need to stop worrying about people making mistakes as they learn to use data. Curiosity, creativity and critical thinking all have to be developed from a young age, Jordan said, and then we’ll be on our way. “Let them muddy the puddle,” he said. It’s all part of embracing technology, embracing change, and becoming comfortable with this new way of approaching information. And it will certainly get us to the future of work faster.

Listen to the full conversation. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. 

[23:19] Data and analytics is not going to slow down. So the companies that want to succeed into the future have to embrace data literacy. They have to, so you have to have those skills.

You can find Jordan Morrow on Linkedin and Twitter