How to improve data and business literacy in your company?

In the current era dominated by data, companies are drowning in information but thirsting for insights. This dichotomy has led organizations to leverage advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to refine decision-making across various aspects of their operations. A crucial starting point for gaining a competitive edge lies in enhancing data literacy and business literacy. In environments that prioritize data-driven decisions for growth, a significant divide exists between the business-oriented mindset and data-centric thinking. Bridging this divide is essential, as neither side can achieve its full potential in isolation.

Businesses are increasingly dependent on data for decision-making, requiring close collaboration, and effective communication between business leaders and data teams. A notable challenge arises when analysts display a lack of business language proficiency, hindering their ability to align their reports with business objectives and answer crucial questions, often leading to additional work. This article highlights the importance of both data and business literacy in overcoming communication barriers and unlocking data's true value, by also proposing a pathway toward enhanced communication.

Beyond Traditional Approaches

The traditional practice of business requesting analysis, analysts generating reports, and executives making decisions often results in a disconnection. Misunderstandings typically occur when the delivered information fails to address the 'why' and 'so what' questions underlying the data, leaving business users without the context necessary to translate dashboards and reports into informed decisions and actionable business outcomes.

Illustration of the process of how information from the dashboard is translated into reports, information is extracted from the reports to make decisions and create a business outcome.

Language, Not Just Terminology: Empathy is the key

The challenge extends beyond mere terminology, touching on differences in communication styles and perspectives. Business leaders seek simple, actionable insights, while data scientists are drawn to the complexities and innovative possibilities their field offers. Bridging this gap requires empathy and a deep understanding of each other's 'languages' to facilitate effective translation. One of the real issues is limited perspective. Both sides need to adopt a holistic view, considering the multidirectional flow of information and decision-making processes.

A conversation between a businessman and a data scientist. Neither understands the other, each is talking about something else.

Understanding the Distinctive Worlds

Business Personnel: Known for their focus on clarity, action, and results, yet often lacking in advanced statistical analysis and nuanced communication skills.

Data Scientists: Excel in critical thinking, aware of limitations and potential biases, but may fall short in understanding business management and effective communication.

Closing the Communication Divide

Data Teams: Enhancing their business literacy to comprehend business perspectives on ROI, improvements, and correlations.

Business Teams: Acquiring data literacy to understand the possibilities, limitations, and uncertainties data presents.

Innovative Solutions and the Bridge Builders  

Analytic Translators – play a crucial role in fostering empathy and ensuring clear communication between business and IT, blending technical expertise with operational knowledge across various business functions.

Data governance software – emerges as a key tool for bridging communication gaps, and enhancing transparency, accountability, and collaboration across the organization.

The Role of Data Governance in Bridge-Building

Unify the way you manage data: Data governance software provides a unified platform for managing data assets. This includes definitions, standards, policies, and procedures. By centralizing these, both data and business teams have access to the same information. This makes it easier for them to understand the rules that govern data use and management.

Data democratization and transparency: Data governance software plays a critical role in promoting transparency by documenting data lineage, ownership, and usage clearly and concisely. This transparency helps business teams better understand where data comes from, how it is transformed, and who is responsible for maintaining its quality, integrity, and access. By promoting accountability, data governance software fosters trust between data and business teams.

Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity: Data governance software is designed to improve collaboration between data and business teams. It offers a range of features that enable efficient workflow management, data stewardship, and collaboration. By using these tools, cross-functional teams can work together more effectively, communicate feedback, and resolve issues on time. The software helps break down silos and foster collaboration between teams, ultimately aligning the efforts of data and business teams toward common goals.

A conversation between a marketer and a data scientist. The data scientist has prepared a dashboard, but due to poor communication, he is only now discovering that the report is not needed at all.

Create a unified language for both worlds – Creating a common language, such as a comprehensive business glossary, can help bridge the gap between data and business. For instance, the term "active data customer" highlights this divide, with different interpretations across departments. Marketing might define it as someone who consumes services, even for free, while Sales might focus on paying customers. For the control department, it could even encompass users who don't consume services but still have outstanding debts. This lack of a unified definition can lead to misinterpretations of reports and differing insights sought. Establishing a common language around "active data customer" could streamline communication and align perspectives across departments. It empowers data teams to create reports that are aligned with business needs, fostering clarity and collaboration across both domains to improve organizational effectiveness and decision-making. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that everyone is on the same page when discussing some business terms.

What else will help you collaborate with your colleagues from the other world? Frequent Iteration and Context

Feedback loops: Don't wait until the end of the project. Frequent iterations and feedback ensure alignment with business needs. A few minutes to clarify is better than weeks of rework.

Context is king: Understand the business context behind every request. What are the goals, challenges, and desired outcomes?

Concluding Thoughts

Data and business literacy are not opposing forces; they are complementary skills needed for true data-driven success. By fostering empathy, communication, and understanding, we can build bridges between these two worlds and unlock the full potential of data to drive better business outcomes. There will always be a gap between these two worlds, but it can be minimized with the right approach and the right tools to maximize efficiency.

Discover how Dawiso can transform your organization's data management and decision-making processes. Schedule a demo today and take the first step towards a future where data becomes wisdom.

Petr Mikeška
Dawiso CEO
Petr Mikeška
Dawiso CEO

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