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Why You Need to Build Your Employees’ Data Literacy Skills

Why You Need to Build Your Employees’ Data Literacy Skills

Investing in data literacy can help you build a stronger brand, score higher on metrics like deal closes and boost customer satisfaction.

Sales reps spend all day reading e-mails from their customers and prospects. Marketers proofread the final copy before an ad campaign goes live. Customer service agents are constantly reading profiles, purchase histories, and product documentation as they provide assistance across multiple channels.

Basic literacy – the ability to read and write in a particular language – is fundamental to most knowledge worker jobs. Data literacy is quickly becoming equally critical to success in every business role.

Though definitions can vary, digital literacy generally refers to the skills that allow people to find, create, manage, share, and evaluate information through a variety of technologies. This goes beyond being able to write and send an e-mail or text message. It means you’re able to work comfortably with collaboration software, automation platforms, and unearth insights from raw data.

The increased proliferation of digital channels and associated tools has only magnified the need for digital literacy across the workforce. Just look at the results of a recent Tableau survey of 2,000 employees in 10 countries (including Canada). It found that 70% of employees are expected to heavily use data by 2025 (up from 40% when similar research was conducted in 2018).

The vast majority of leaders (82%) also said they expect all employees to have basic data literacy. No wonder that, according to recruiting firm Randstad Canada, data analysis is the No. 1 trending skill Canadian employers are looking for on resumes in 2023.

Of course, reskilling and upskilling your team is an investment, and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across Canada are grappling with considerable economic challenges this year. Helping employees build their digital literacy doesn’t have to be expensive, however, especially with free online resources like Trailhead.

Investing in digital literacy will also have a direct impact on many of the areas SMBs care about. If you need help making the business case, these are some of the reasons leaders should act now:

1. Data literacy helps deliver a better customer experience

Even if they’re still shopping in physical stores, providing a great experience to customers means leaning heavily on digital technologies. This can include everything from empowering associates with a mobile point of sale (MPOS) to manage transactions, to apps that let customers check inventory at other locations. All these technologies rely on having the right data at the right time, and people who can use it strategically. The story is similar across every other industry, from manufacturing to financial services and hospitality. Data literacy allows companies to understand how their customers are behaving, trends and patterns about their unmet needs, and whether operations are performing as they should to serve them. Business success is predicated on a great customer experience (CX). If you care about CX, you’ll care about data literacy too.

2. Employees with strong data literacy are more engaged and fulfilled

A company’s CX is only as good as its EX – otherwise known as the employee experience. This may sound obvious, but ensuring everyone on your team has the right skills will influence everything from motivation to overall culture and morale.

When employees are data literate, for instance, they can use the tools available to them to solve more complex problems. Data literacy can also make it faster and easier to find answers to customers’ questions, which makes both parties happier. Data literacy can also foster a greater sense of teamwork, even as more employees take advantage of hybrid work policies and aren’t in the same office.

3. Data literacy makes it easier to see the path to growth

Successful SMBs don’t just focus on the day-to-day tasks. They also keep an eye on key performance indicators (KPIs) that help them set realistic targets and reach them.

You need to be data literate to translate how a variety of metrics – from customer acquisition cost to churn, revenue and lifetime value – will affect your bottom line. That’s the only way to know if it’s the right time to launch a new product or service, expand into a new market, or hire more people.

Some businesses used to make these kinds of decisions based on intuition or gut instinct. Thanks to platforms that centralize and unify data like Customer 360, they can use their data literacy skills instead.

4. A data-literate workforce will be ready to harness future innovations

It’s not always easy to know what the “next big thing” will be. It could be a new digital device, an emerging digital channel, or a digital application that could transform an entire industry. What you can be sure of, however, is that there will likely be some kind of learning curve to adopt it.

Companies sometimes struggle because their employees need extensive training to wrap their heads around an innovative new product or service. Data literacy reduces the burden because it’s a transferable skill. In other words, once they’ve built data literacy to use a CRM or marketing automation system, it’s less of a leap to explore innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) or virtual reality (VR). These innovations are all based on data in some way, so employees are in a better position to get up to speed quickly.

5. Data literacy helps promote a data culture

We all want sales forecasts to be more accurate, for marketing campaigns to convert more customers, and for our service teams to help more people. Data literacy skills help in all these areas, and when you empower the entire team to learn them, you’ve got the foundation for a data culture. You’ll know an SMB has a data culture because it employs people who eagerly make use of new data, review it regularly, and fine-tune how they derive insight from it.

Companies like this get very good at predicting what’s to come in their business, avoid repeatable errors, and maximize productivity and efficiency.

If you want to build a stronger brand, score higher on metrics like deal closes, and boost customer satisfaction, you’ll want data literacy skills.

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