What is Data Fluency?

Today’s guest author is Ana Peacock. Anna is an award-winning marketing and communications director based in Birmingham, AL covering the latest in tech and healthcare.

Data Fluency and Its Impact Across Industries

Now more than ever, understanding and interpreting data is rising to the forefront of all industries as a critical skill needed to produce thoughtful decision-making and drive success. Data fluency is empowering educators, businesses of all sizes, athletes, non-profits and every sector in between to strengthen relationships, become more profitable and boost collaboration and productivity.

What is data fluency and how is it different from data literacy?

By definition, data fluency is the ability to interpret, communicate and apply data. Previously more commonly referred to as data literacy, data fluency takes the concept a step further by focusing on one’s ability to tell impactful stories with the information. Think of it this way: data literacy describes an individual’s ability to understand the subject whereas data fluency showcases their competency by way of implementation, problem solving and explanation. While some use the terms interchangeably, industry professionals are now setting the stage for the understanding that literacy is a precursor to fluency and they are co-dependent upon one another.

Who should be thinking about data fluency?

Simply put, everyone. Gone are the days of looking through the narrow lens that the topic is reserved for data scientists, business analysts or those in tech positions. Now leaders across the globe are accepting the reality that it’s imperative across all levels of an organization. From top to bottom, data fluency does more than just increase one’s understanding of the organization’s role and impact within their industry. It has the power to build synergy across teams by laying the foundation of organizational success.

For human resources, data fluency is critical in reducing employee turnover, simplifying recruitment and closing the talent gap. Similar information has the ability to provide frontline employees with the tools needed to reduce errors, better manage tasks and make more informed decisions. On the other hand, leveraging data within the C-suite is imperative to strengthening processes, increasing ROI and enhancing the customer experience. As a result, team members across departments have a better understanding of the organization’s goals and experience improved communication.

How can we make data more approachable?

It’s no secret that data can be overwhelming, especially to a new adopter. With its increased relevance for employees across all sectors, there are a number of factors at play to ensure data remains an approachable topic. Nearly half, 46%, of all organizations committed to data-driven decision making have invested in data fluency skills. But where should you start?

  1. Promote a data fluent culture.

Businessman explaining data fluency to other employees
Building and cultivating a culture that values sound decision-making backed by solidly sourced data is key to promoting data fluency and starts with leadership at the top. While fostering this type of atmosphere can be done in a number of ways, a few recommendations include:

  • Making relevant data readily available and accessible
  • Providing actionable data-driven insights
  • Offering easily accessible training opportunities
  1. Prioritize upskilling.

At first glance, upskilling may seem like a one-sided approach that benefits the employee disproportionately over the employer. A bit more digging in a post-COVID world that has reshaped the workforce, paints a different picture that proves upskilling drives employee retention and happiness, in turn, increasing an organization’s ROI and profit. 62% of CEOs surveyed by LinkedIn are prioritizing upskilling as a way of not just improving performance, but showing employees their value and desire to retain them by prioritizing their growth and preparing them for advancement. With all levels benefitting from data fluency, upskilling data skills are a proven worthwhile investment that employees want and all organizations need.

  1. Incentivize employees to utilize data in meaningful and impactful capacities.

Empower teams and individuals to put their knowledge to the test and find solutions to your organization’s problems by using data. Creating problem solvers at all levels can yield powerful and actionable solutions. After all, skills only matter if they’re used and acted upon. Offer opportunities to share findings and highlight those bringing improvements and new systems to the forefront.

  1. Encourage micro-learning opportunities.

Providing microlearning is an important part of growing data fluency in an enterprise
With an average attention span of just over eight seconds and a number of things competing for our thoughts every minute, it likely comes as no surprise that science is continually making a strong case for microlearning. Shorter bursts of learning sessions have proven to reduce cognitive overload, increase content retention and improve engagement. These factors make a subject like data fluency even more digestible and less intimidating for a new student.

Data fluency is not new but the way organizations are thinking about it and implementing it is becoming more innovative. With AI-driven platforms creating curated learning experiences, QuantHub’s learning environment provides a welcoming space with over 40,000 learning resources and 5,000 mapped data skills for individuals, corporations, educators and more.

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