What is data literacy and why do we need it?

So what is data literacy? What better way to gain a proper understanding of the term than to consult an expert? As can be explored further in Priyankar Bhunia’s article, James Fisher, VP Global Product Marketing at Qlik, offers his understanding of what the skill entails. He says that:

“Data literacy spans a broad set of processes in the analytics workflow. It is the ability to read, work with, analyse and argue with data.”

Alright, so it doesn’t just involve understanding data. To be literate, you also need to have enough confidence to question data that is not acting in the way that it should. And sure, there is no way to know everything. And to detect anomalies in vast amounts of data is borderline impossible. Rather, literacy assists the analysis process, allowing for the human element of critique to be involved.

It’s spreading across the world

As the importance of this skill is becoming more widely recognized, countries around the world are adapting. One such example is Qlik’s own Academic Program spreading to 50 universities across India, with the goal of improving the data skills of this emerging market. (Read more about this here.) Another is seen in The Data Lab’s efforts to increase the understanding of data throughout Scotland, launching dedicated training programs.

But business intelligence has been around for a while now. So why does it seem like people are valuing data literacy now more than ever?

What will be the role of data analysts in the future?

In a way it makes sense. Yes, the business intelligence industry has been flourishing for some time now. However, a more recent development is automation. Although processes involved in business intelligence and data analysis have always been somewhat computer-driven, this has increased and continues to increase daily. With this, a new question has begun to surface- What will be the role of data analysts in the future?

This is where data literacy comes in. As emphasized not only by James Fisher, many experts believe that the human element will still be essential within the analysis process, regardless of the level of automation that we reach. So perhaps this is why people are ramping up their efforts. We can see a glimpse of what the future of business intelligence is going to be, and to fit in, we all need to be data literate.

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