South African companies are not taking data literacy seriously enough

With spending on data and analytics projects projected to rise above $200bn in 2020 the need for a data literate workforce has never been more important. Gartner’s 3rd annual CDO survey cited poor data literacy as the second most significant roadblock to data and analytics project success and yet companies still grapple with how to tackle the issue.

“We discuss this with our clients all the time,” notes Nik Eveleigh, Principal Consultant – Data & Analytics, iOCO. “Companies are placing strategic emphasis on self-service analytics and data driven decision making but they are not focusing enough on bringing their people along for the journey.”

Infrastructure and license costs, complexity and other technical factors have traditionally been major inhibitors to success in the data and analytics space, but with tool-sets becoming increasingly feature-rich and intuitive, subscription models becoming the norm and a general shift towards the cloud the nature of the problem has changed. This, Eveleigh believes, has led to major vendors placing greater emphasis on the cultural aspect of change than ever before.

“The best tool-sets are all incredibly powerful and versatile and so vendors are now having to differentiate themselves by driving a cultural agenda. Tableau Blueprint is a step by step guide to building a data culture, is underpinned by training material developed by Qlik. Every leading player understands they now have to focus on people.”

This process of reinvention is not restricted to tool-set vendors. Established consulting houses plying their trade in the realms of business intelligence, data and analytics have long relied on providing technical expertise to clients, often in partnership with these same industry leading vendors who are now shifting their focus. For consultancies to stay relevant in this changing world they too need to adopt a far more balanced approach – a suggestion that Eveleigh strongly agrees with.

“The notion of simply selling a software license and then placing a technical expert at a client to build reports and dashboards ad nauseum is outdated. At iOCO we’ve been aware of this for some time and our focus is on those areas where we can bring true value to our customers.”

“We are data people – culturally and technically – and we understand the value of data literacy both to ourselves and to those we partner with. Helping people to navigate a tool-set, or to understand and view their data with confidence has always been at the heart of what we do – data literacy is just a nice term to encapsulate it. We don’t believe you can buy a box of data literacy, so we haven’t tried to build one. Our approach is simple. We partner with clients to help them define and realise their data goals. Our data literacy assessment helps shape a solution road-map that is tailored to each client’s unique data landscape, is mindful of both cultural and technical challenges and speaks to our core areas of consulting expertise.”

“When our clients succeed, we succeed – and we believe a confident, empowered, data-literate user base is critical to this success.”

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