As a business owner, it can be easy to feel surrounded and overwhelmed by data. After all, in our ever-connected world, data is everywhere and in everything; from the employee details you have on file to your company’s financial records.
Data is so universal that, for many, it’s almost become too vague to pin down what it is and how it can benefit your business. This is where data skills – aka data literacy - come in.
Data literacy is, quite simply, a phrase used to describe the ability to identify, understand, and analyse data in context. In essence, it’s about taking heaps of raw data and converting it into usable and actionable information that can benefit your business. And the benefits of having data literate employees can be measured on a company’s bottom line. Gartner says that by 2023, data literacy “will have become essential in driving business value.”
There’s a flipside, of course, as Gartner goes on to say that “poor data literacy is ranked as the second-biggest internal roadblock to the success of the CDO’s office.”
But as technologies like AI and machine learning become more common, the volume of data that businesses have to process is only set to increase. So, the need for data-analytically-minded people is skyrocketing.
Getting these people on board can be trickier than it sounds though, as the digital skills gap is real with the European Commission noting that 42% of Europeans lack basic digital skills. This is worrying when you consider that 90% of professional jobs in Europe require a basic level of digital knowledge. So, it's clear that this supply-demand imbalance needs correcting.
When it comes to data literacy, upskilling existing employees can be far more cost effective than hiring new already-trained staff. Training staff has other benefits too – especially retention. After all, 32% of employees reported that they changed their jobs in the last 12 months due to a lack of upskilling opportunities, according to data experts, Qlik.
Fortunately, the road to harnessing and deploying these data skills is right in front of you, specialised courses designed to take your team from data zeros to data heroes.
But not all businesses have the resources or funds to invest in extensive or tailor-made courses. So, we explored various online courses – requiring varying time and budget investment – that both business leaders and employees can get stuck into. Here are our favourites:
Time: Learn the essentials of data analytics in 1 month.
Cost: €590 upfront.
CareerFoundry offers a range of data analytics packages, from introductory to specialist courses. We really like this Introduction to Data Analytics Course because it’s flexible, hands-on, and gives you one-to-one time with expert mentors. It’s a good option for budding data explorers.
Facebook Blueprint: Work with data
Time: On-demand to suit your schedule
Facebook Blueprint hosts a range of courses designed to help busy business leaders top up their knowledge on certain subjects without a huge time commitment. The Work with data course hosted there is designed to introduce a range of data disciplines to those new to the subject; from understanding variables to spotting outliers.
Time: Various options depending on what you can fit in.
Cost: Depends, but it’s free to begin.
Datacamp’s motto is ‘data drives everything’, and if you head over to their unique website, you’ll see they offer a huge range of data and data-adjacent learning options – including coding – so you can tap into what courses suit you best.
Time: Flexes with the course.
Cost: Different options for different needs.
Dataquest prides itself on having real-world challenges and projects, instead of video lectures. If you, or your team, are looking for efficient, hands-on learning, they might be for you. Even better, you can sign up to their introductory package for free.
Time: Learn to your schedule.
The data literacy specialisation at Coursera is free, and lets you learn at a pace that suits your schedule. Set by the renowned John Hopkins University in Maryland, USA, the course starts with an introduction to data before walking you through measurement, regression models, and onto probability. A little more academic than the other options on this list, but good for a grounding in data literacy.
Time: 4-hours of on-demand video, 10 downloadable resources.
Cost: €84.99 for personal use.
Udemy’s ‘The Data Literacy Course: Learn How to Work With Data’ is a little more compressed than other courses on this list, but its brevity doesn’t take away from its impact. It’s positioned as the perfect starter course for a beginner – from understanding data terminology, through to how to interpret data. A quick tour through data literacy for anyone with a busy working schedule.
Explore even more digital learning tools with free interactive workshops, e-learning modules and in-person consultations as part of the Go and Grow Online programme.
It’s no secret that the right mix of digital tools can help a small business thrive. But understanding the tech trends that are shaping tomorrow will be crucial for riding out the waves of change that’s set to come.