Fuel your digital transformation by enhancing data literacy


By Sandeep Bhargava, SVP, Global Services and Solutions, Public Cloud Business Unit, Rackspace Technology

For the majority of Indian businesses, digital transformation became a matter of life at the outset of the pandemic. Many had to adjust their operations and workplaces in the face of lockdowns, remote work mandates, and supply chain issues, to name a few.

Digital transformation is still a matter of survival today but for different reasons. Enterprises are in a race with each other to innovate, improve processes, gain a competitive edge, and win market share. An IDC survey of Indian companies found that 95 percent of respondents have either retained their digital transformation budgets from last year or even increased them.

Key to the transformation enterprises are undergoing is the migration to the cloud. The cloud presents many benefits to organisations, such as flexibility, cost elasticity, greater scalability, and better speed of deployment than on-premises systems. Indian businesses recognise this according to an IDC estimate, as the local public cloud market is predicted to soar from USD 2.8 billion in 2022 to USD 13 billion by 2026. 

At the centre of cloud migration initiatives are cloud platform providers. These providers manage technical concerns such as server configuration, system and software updates, maintenance, and security. In doing so, they free enterprises to devote more time to improving their data assets and taking advantage of innovation opportunities.

Data democratisation is a boon but also brings challenges to businesses

One crucial pillar in organisations’ digital transformation, data literacy, is being neglected by many. Data is increasingly becoming more varied, available from more sources, and in enormous amounts.

With the rise of new business intelligence (BI) dashboards and other tools, along with the spread of capabilities that used to be available only in IT and business analyst roles, “citizen data scientists” are clamouring to explore data and develop predictive models on their own.

The expansion of data democratisation and self-service functionality is a shot in the arm for enterprises. But tools alone are not enough to produce high-quality insights. The spread of intuitive, self-service tools and applications can lead many to overlook the critical role of data literacy.

How data literacy advances organisational digital transformation

Data literacy has two goals. The first is to enhance the ability of users to analyse and interpret any data they are handling, as well as to share and communicate their insights. Gigantic amounts of data and high processing speeds are wasted if there is low confidence in the insights derived or if they do not lead to impactful decision-making. The second goal is to increase the accountability of those who collect, integrate, prepare, and protect data.  

Data literacy is the key to accelerating the acceptance of analytics. As more people outside of traditional data science roles are empowered to become “citizen data scientists”, they seek to challenge assumptions through data insights. Thus, encouraging and enabling people to practice critical thinking has to be part of any data literacy initiative. Critical thinking is necessary to evaluate results, ask additional questions, refine analytics models, and most importantly, determine whether the derived insights have merit for business decisions. 

Data literacy is also critical with the rapid maturation of AI/ML augmentation in business applications. With augmentation, prescriptive recommendations are delivered to users on business rules and data-derived insights in the context of their responsibilities and interests. These recommendations can eliminate the confusion caused by a flood of alerts. Through smarter data-driven notifications, frontline workers can prioritise workflows and processes according to need.

How to advance data literacy within organisations

One-way organisations can beef up their data literacy is to set up formal training programs for it. More importantly, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, programs should be calibrated for individual backgrounds, experiences, and responsibilities.

Another way to enhance organisational data literacy is to include data governance requirements in the subject matter. According to TWDI research on data modernisation and information integration, 35 percent of all respondents believe this is important for improving stakeholder confidence and trust toward data. 

Data stewards, or those with expertise in data and who can oversee both defensive and offensive data governance, can provide mentorship for other employees to improve data governance accountability. These can be done both in the context of the previously mentioned formal training programs, as well as informal activities for sharing best practices.

Data literacy as a pillar of digital transformation

With cloud computing adoption at the fore, organisations are entering a new data landscape and moving past the traditional focus on system configuration and IT budgets. They can now focus on tapping their data’s full business potential through scalable and elastic cloud computing. 

But to do so, organisations must match the power of modern cloud platform providers with data democratisation and a workforce of citizen data scientists. By expanding data literacy to non-data scientist roles within one’s workforce, businesses can unlock the full potential of their cloud computing initiatives.


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