How to Transform Employees into Data Advocates

BrandPost By Dwight Davis
May 07, 2020
Technology Industry

While companies strive to manage mountains of digital data, they may ignore a key barrier to success: their employees’ data-related procrastination or anxiety.

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Credit: istock

Inevitably, as digital transformation unfolded across the globe, so did the influx of digital data. Trailing this phenomenon is a flood of solutions designed to help companies collect, clean, store, and analyze data.

While critically important, data management tools, systems, and cloud services often run up against a hard barrier: the discomfort and frustrations employees feel when working with digital data. As it turns out, data-averse employees can cause significant, and negative economic impact.

Employees suffering from data overload and/or data anxiety respond in a variety of ways, according to a worldwide, cross-industry study of 9,000 employees conducted by Qlik and Accenture. And their reactions can harm both their own careers and the bottom lines of their employers. Among the findings:

  • Three-quarters (74%) of employees reported feeling overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data
  • More than one-third (36%) reported spending at least one hour per week procrastinating over data-related tasks
  • 14% of employees reported feeling overwhelmed at least once each day when working with data, a percentage that rose to nearly half of employees on a weekly basis

The global study calculated that data-induced procrastination and stress-related sick-leave cause companies to lose, on average, more than five working days per employee per year. The productivity costs of these losses are far from trivial. In the United States alone, the costs exceed more than $100 billion annually, the study researchers estimated.

Reducing and Eliminating Data Stress

As companies become aware of this problem, growing numbers are launching initiatives to reduce data stress and improve the data literacy of their employees and, by extension, their entire organizations. Corporate data literacy can be defined as the ability to read, analyze, and communicate data and insights throughout an organization and, importantly, to make decisions based on good data rather than on hunches and conjecture.

To address this universal need, Qlik, along with founding partners Accenture, Cognizant, Experian, Pluralsight, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and Data to the People, launched an initiative called The Data Literacy Project. Among other activities, this community-based project offers a data literacy certification, a collection of 15-minute to 2-hour online courses, and conducts research to assess the data literacy of different countries and different industry sectors.

Although it’s generally risky to make predictions about technology trends, it’s safe to guarantee that the volume of digital data – and its importance to business success – will continue to escalate for the foreseeable future. Capitalizing on the value hidden in this expanding sea will require ever-more-sophisticated tools and technologies, including solutions that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning. But success will also require large percentages of employees to become skilled in working with data, and comfortable in doing so. Building corporate data literacy can help.

For information about how Qlik’s data solutions and expertise can help your organization analyze and synthesize relevant data and improve the data literacy of your organization, see.