‘Data literacy’ can separate signal from noise

By : |July 12, 2017 0

An IDC report states that by the year 2020, there will be four times more digital data than all of the grains of sand on earth. While, a McKinsey report states that about 90 percent of the digital data ever created in the world have been generated in just the past two years, and only 1 percent of that data has been analyzed.

While this Digital world has its good and bad which has given birth to a new kind of vigilantism as well. Digital vigilantism as a process is not very complicated but its implications certainly are. And who knows it better than us Indians, we have seen more than one cases of vigilantism in the recent past.

It is an act where citizens are collectively offended by other citizen’s activity, followed by a a planned retaliation on mobile devices and social platforms. You may term it as an user-led violation of privacy that not only transcends online/offline distinctions but also complicates relations of visibility and control between police and the public.

In the wake of these facts on digital vigilantism, we decided to interact with Dan Sommer, Senior Director, Global Market Intelligence Lead at Qlik and a former Gartner analyst. However, Dan Sommer highlighted the importance of ‘data literacy’ over ‘data vigilante.’ The latter, he believes, holds the future to information activism in precise terms.

Dan thinks, ‘data literacy’ is just emerging and is the next big thing which needs to move up the value chain over the coming years. We need to start early, right from high schools and colleges and Qlik is going to play a major role in it. We all know that a lot is happening in the world of data and we are surrounded by it, and he says, it has become challenging to separate signal from the noise.

Data literacy is the ability to utilize analytics tools to read and understand data, which is fast becoming an important and sought-after business skill in today’s world. Dan feels that the changing trends of data fragmentation creates an urgent need for data literacy to give rise to serious Information Activism:

Growth & Fragmentation of Data

The huge explosion and fragmentation of data are going to multiply only with time. It is on your desktop, externally on different clouds, in different systems, mobiles and similar other devices and all of it is equally fragmented. Due to this perceptible shift, organizations are witnessing a change in their users’ data consumption behavior, as they increasingly prefer decentralized, external data sources to centralized, internal ones.

Growth & Fragmentation of Computing

With the fragmentation of data, there is ‘fragmentation’ of computing methods around it also. The smart devices are going to grow exponentially, which will lead to a simultaneous increase in the number of ways in which the data computation can take place. That is why, numerous ways of data computing have now evolved like machine learning and neural networks. But, the fragmentation of data and computing methods can only be deduced if there are well equipped data scientists. Therefore, Dan stressed in order to fill the gap there is a need to empower people with the capability to analyze data, to obtain deeper layers of information that can aid in effective decision making.

Explosion of Access

There is ready access to tools like Google and its analytics which has, in turn, encouraged a data-driven decision-making process. There are others, who provide the portfolio of Cloud-based and on-premise solutions. Hence, there is also a growing trend of allowing easy access to meet customers’ growing needs from reporting and self-service visual analytics to guided, embedded and custom analytics, regardless of where data is located.

Growth of Data Driven Skills

But, these skills need to be honed and given direction, someone needs to shine light on the data. There is a need for a governance of data, data models that can move up with agility and flexibility. Infact, Qlik’s integrated data governance capabilities can help companies and governments to derive better data insights and mitigate business risks.

That is why Qlik believes a rise in data literacy will result in higher number of data analysts and data scientists which in turn will lead to ‘information activism’ and activists. There is a big difference in being data-driven and being an expert at analyzing that data.

Dan says, “Data is never perfect and it is an individual’s intent to the discovery that can lead to its development. In the process, there can be an individual growth pattern to it which can help the person to scale from an executive to a CEO level.”

Despite all of the data we have, there is a big gap of people who can analyze and micro-analyze the same. The more we enter the digital age, we need to focus more on data literacy just like we need literacy.

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