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Some organizations need a little help with data literacy – getting their feet on the ground. Maybe they can’t seem to move the bar in terms of using data to make decisions. Or they sense their employees struggle to understand; they’re not so self-assured when it comes to data. Others lack resources and talent needed to deliver timely insights or to scale existing internal efforts.

The report Data Literacy Matters: The Writing’s On The Wall presents Forrester’s data literacy framework which components of a comprehensive data literacy program.

The second report in the series on data literacy, “Build A Data Literacy Curriculum of ACES (coming soon),” will addresses the question of external training. Organizations who need guidance on building a data literacy program can turn to:

  • Peer exchanges. As data and analytics leaders recognize the need to build data literacy, they can be reassured to know they are not alone. Forrester’s Leadership Board program offers a Customer Insights & Analytics Council, which brings together leaders from across roles to accelerate innovation with data and analytics. Board.org, a membership-based executive community, launched Data Board to bring together chief data officers and other data leaders across companies for confidential, nonvendor peer engagements. These peer exchanges help leaders better understand how data can be used and offer opportunities to share how they do it. And they can do so without worrying what others think.
  • Data literacy specialists. Several organizations help design and deliver data literacy programs. The Data Literacy Project was founded as a consortium of partners to promote a better understanding of data. The project recently launched a data literacy certification. Dataliteracy.com also offers certification exams, as well as scheduled online and onsite courses open to the public and private onsite training for company-wide literacy programs. Data To The People, headquartered in Australia, offers individual and organizational assessments to benchmark data literacy, as well as a full curriculum to develop “Databilities”. My upcoming report, “Build A Data Literacy Curriculum of ACES,” includes descriptions of about a dozen data literacy training providers.

  • Data and analytics tools vendors. The major vendors offer training programs, mostly focused on users of their tools. User group meetings offer extensive training on new features and functions as well as creative ways of developing expertise. At a recent Alteryx Inspire event, attendees were invited to take part in an escape room, where they were challenged to solve an enigma using Alteryx tools. Tableau Software’s Makeover Monday publishes data sets and challenges users to build creative new visualizations, with a gamified approach that provides incentives to experts to demonstrate their data prowess and share ideas.
  • Insights service providers. Data and analytics services providers like Capgemini, KPMG, and Tiger Analytics offer access to advanced data and analytics skills, methodologies, and technology not always available internally — as well as the change management needed to build insights-driven organizations. These providers help build centers of excellence and establish processes to drive an insights agenda. When asked about the primary benefits of a service provider engagement, 36% of insights services decision makers said, “The providers are more effective at organizing and coordinating stakeholders in our firm,” and 35% said, “We can use established best practices of our providers.” That includes helping them expand data literacy.

In addition to the training providers above, many of the companies I’ve spoken to also rely on online courses through Coursera or EDx. For example, HarvardX has a whole series of training for data science including a Professional Certificate Program in Data Science and courses such as Data Science: Capstone, a project that applies principles from multiple courses.

Courses are not just about the technology. MichiganX offers Data Science Ethics to keep data scientists and the decision-makers they support from being dangerous or getting themselves and their companies into trouble.

Edx also includes courses from vendors like NetApp and Microsoft as well as the LinuxFoundation. While the vast majority
of courses are in English, Spanish is well represented as is Chinese with courses from TsinghuaX.

Stay tuned for more research on data literacy, including some games to make it all more fun.

(This post originally appeared on the Forrester Research blog, which can be viewed here).

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