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What is Data Literacy?

Data literacy is the ability to read, work with, analyze, argue with and use data. We now live in a data-driven world. Data is everywhere and is constantly collected about everything. That means that data literacy is a critical capability for success at the enterprise level today.


Data is used for many things — like making predictions on spending patterns or using big data to understand how your next investment will perform. But how can you know if you can trust the data? Understanding how to work with data can help you make better business decisions. Data literacy includes a set of skills that enable professionals to understand how data are collected and used in practice. This includes what kinds of questions can be asked about it; what kinds of answers might be possible; how those answers might change over time; who can access this information; who decides what gets collected or not and so on. Data literacy shares many similarities with critical thinking: Both involve problem solving using evidence from multiple sources (such as documents or statistical tables) as well as determining whether these sources are reliable enough for their purpose without being misleading in any way. This article will explain data literacy in an enterprise data governance framework and suggest some methods of building data literacy in your organization.


Data: Many Uses, Critical Importance


In today’s enterprise, data has numerous critical functions. Data is used in many different ways, such as:

  • Decision making: Data is at the heart of everything we do. It helps us make informed decisions on what we need to do next.

  • Communication: Data helps us to tell stories and share ideas with others in an engaging way so they understand what you are trying to say, or why they should care about a particular topic or issue.

  • Researching questions that need answers can be answered through data analysis: This can result in new insights into how things work and why people behave differently than expected under certain business conditions (e.g., why does one group respond better than another group when given the same stimulus?).


Thus, Data literacy has become a key component of many organizations’ culture, including their recruitment and development practices. Data-literate employees are more likely to be engaged in their work and more successful at solving problems. This can translate into higher productivity and better decision-making for your business. Data literacy helps employees make better decisions by giving them access to relevant information that can aid them in making informed choices based on objective facts rather than opinions or gut feelings. The ability to analyze large amounts of data quickly allows people to spot trends, patterns and anomalies that may not have been apparent before they were able to analyze the data together.

Data literacy is not a standalone concept; it is part of an overall culture shift toward a data-driven enterprise. By implementing a data-literate culture, organizations can improve their business outcomes and become more competitive in their industries. Enterprise Data Literacy (EDL) refers to the ability of an organization’s workforce to understand and make intelligent use of its enterprise data assets. EDL encompasses all levels of an organization — from executives who set strategies based on insights gleaned from their enterprise analytics platforms down through the rank-and-file employees who interact with these systems daily. EDL has three key areas:

  • Data trustworthiness — ensuring that your data is accurate and trustworthy by using rigorous controls throughout its lifecycle so that you can be confident in your decisions.

  • Data usability — making sure your employees have access to all relevant information in one place so they can easily find what they need when they need it.

  • Data intelligence — using technology tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate tasks within your enterprise so employees can focus on higher-value activities like analysis and interpretation rather than administrative work such as report generation or manual data entry.”


But how can you know if you can trust the data?


In order to make better decisions with data, you need trust in the information that you’re using. The bigger your enterprise grows, the more data becomes available — so it’s crucial that you know where each piece comes from and whether or not it’s reliable. If there’s any doubt about the validity of your information sources or processes, then your company could suffer serious consequences down the line if not corrected immediately. Data Trust is the ability of a person or system to understand data, determine if it is trustworthy, and use it for a specific purpose. Data trustworthiness refers to the confidence level that you have in the accuracy, correctness, and completeness of your data. It also includes knowing whether the source is credible and trusted, as well as whether the data was collected legally.


Does the source have a history of providing reliable information? If so, what kind of history do they have? Have they been consistent over time? Do they provide other sources to verify their claims? If not, why not? Do they cite sources for their claims or are they vague about where their information came from?


Have others verified this information? If so, how did they verify it (for example, using different sources) and what was the outcome of their verification process? Did they find any discrepancies between those sources and their own findings? If so, how did these discrepancies affect their conclusions about reliability/trustworthiness? What were those conclusions?


Ideally, the answer to many of these questions about data trustworthiness are answered with automated tools that you can rely on, reducing the time spent verifying trust and boosting focus on using data to make business decisions.


So How Do I Build Enterprise Data Literacy?


Data literacy is a skill that anyone can learn. It’s not just for the techies and data experts of the world, but something that everyone should know how to do. Data literacy is an essential tool for understanding the world around us—especially as technology continues its rapid pace of change.


Alex Solutions is the perfect technology to enable your workforce to get data literate quickly, boosting productivity at every business level. Alex is an Enterprise Data Platform specifically designed to democratize and consumerize data, allowing a flourishing data culture to be built in any organization. By unifying the entire enterprise data and application system in a single platform, everything your people need to become data literate is found in one place. Alex automated data discovery and profiling makes any data, anywhere in the organization available at any time, creating visibility and accessibility. Simply consulting our “Google-like” advanced search bar allows responsible people to find the right data. From here, they can view world-leading automatically profiled, rich metadata of data quality and trust metrics, placing data objects and systems in  their business context.


If your workforce is familiar with social media or streaming websites, they can use Alex. Accessibility is core to the design of Alex, which enables both business and technical users to understand and use data with minimal risk and maximum value. Simple governance is native to Alex through the ability to easily configure policies and assign responsibilities around data. The Alex Intelligent Business Glossary combats the complexity of multi-cloud, global business by acting as a single source of truth and center of collaboration for your enterprise. With all data and processes defined and trackable across the enterprise, governance decisions can be made on a sound basis. Onboarding time is radically reduced by providing people and teams with an enterprise-wide common language and configurable automated workflows.


No one person or department is responsible for data culture or literacy. More and more, data governance is part of everyone’s responsibilities at work. Alex is built to facilitate seamless collaboration around data. With a rich suite of social features allowing individuals and teams to work together, data and insights become shareable and actionable. Alex is truly scalable to your enterprise, so adding new applications and systems or conducting migrations will never mean that you lose your existing knowledge and literacy.


Alex Solutions was built with the future of enterprise data in mind. Achieving a winning data culture and organizational data literacy won’t be possible without the right technological base. Our platform is the single, simple and social solution to data literacy deficits in any industry and at any scale. If you want to learn more about how Alex can get your workforce data literate fast, request a free personalized demonstration from our friendly, expert team:


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