Tableau’s research reveals lack of investment in data literacy

Forrester surveyed more than 2,000 executives, decision-makers, and rank-and-file workers.

Enterprises in Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) understand the broad and deep value of improved data skills and literacy. Yet, APJ decision-makers and rank-and-file workers surveyed disagree sharply about the adequacy and reach of existing data skills training. Nearly 80 per cent of the region’s decision-makers (Singapore decision-makers: 78 per cent) say that their department successfully provides its workers with needed data skills. However, less than 40 per cent of regional employees (Singapore employees: 37 per cent) believe the same.

In the global survey, Forrester surveyed more than 2,000 executives, decision-makers, and rank-and-file workers in 10 countries including Australia, Japan, and Singapore. Respondents work at global companies with 500+ employees.

Singapore organisations have the highest data skills expectations out of all countries surveyed globally 

Singaporean decision-makers and employees recognise that data literacy is increasingly crucial for personal and organisational success.  91 per cent of decision-makers in Singapore surveyed expect basic data literacy from employees in every department — including product, IT, HR, and operations, compared to the global figure of 82 per cent. Basic computer and data skills were the top two skills decision-makers in Singapore highlighted employees should have fully acquired today

Expectations for data literacy for employees are only increasing. By 2025, close to 70 per cent of employees in APJ (Singapore employees: 66 per cent) are expected to use data heavily in their job, up from 38 per cent (Singapore employees: 36 per cent) in 2018. While business leaders and employees agree that data skills are increasingly essential to understand and act on the vast amounts of data their organisations produce, that awareness doesn’t translate to investments in data skilling.

“It is encouraging to see businesses in the APJ region recognising the critical role data plays in staying competitive. But the value of data can only be realised when all people – not just traditional data-focused roles – are able to draw insights and turn them into action, fast. Businesses today must translate this recognition to commitment by investing in their people through training and development. Only then can they capitalise on the enormous opportunity in our high growth region and drive success,” said JY Pook, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific and Japan, Tableau at Salesforce

Employees empowered with data skills are more likely to stay but, according to results, organisations are not investing enough in training

Data literacy has a positive correlation with employee retention. 83 per cent of employees in Singapore surveyed say they’re more likely to stay at a company that sufficiently trains them with the data skills they need.

However, many workers feel under skilled. Only 35 per cent of surveyed employees in Singapore believe their organisation has equipped them with the data skills they need, 36 per cent of those surveyed in APJ shared the same view.

This could be attributed to the fact that only 28 per cent of organisations in Singapore make data training available to all employees – the lowest of all markets surveyed globally – with the onus to train people usually falling to department heads or team leads. In comparison, 37 per cent of APJ organisations opened up data training to all employees.

Compounding the issue, the survey revealed that 41 per cent of Singapore’s decision-makers offer training only for employees in traditional data roles (e.g., analytics, data science) – the highest of all markets surveyed in APJ and globally.

While the regional and local data literacy skills gap is clear, so is the opportunity

The disconnect between decision-makers’ beliefs and the reality employees face may result in steep costs for businesses, but also presents an unprecedented opportunity to build a data-driven organisation.

“We’ve seen a 96-fold return on our data investments. Data culture is more of a journey than a destination. Celebrate your wins along the way but always look to improve. Data’s value is the existential: the existence of your business,” said Clive Benford, Data Officer Director, Jaguar Land Rover. “If you don’t become a data-driven business, I don’t think you’ll be here in 20 years. The long-term value is existence.”

Damien Joseph, Associate Professor of Information Technology at Nanyang Technological University’s Nanyang Business School concurs, saying: “We have long known that data-driven decision-making results in higher levels of productivity and profitability. The results of this study continue to show the benefits of data literacy and data training in the form of better decision-making, greater customer experience, and improved employee retention. For an organisation to still resist a data-driven culture is sabotaging itself.”

Even small training investments can boost business performance, employee retention and innovation

Forrester found that upskilling initiatives, formal and informal, can produce clear benefits for employees and businesses alike including improved performance, customer and employee satisfaction and employee retention.

Across the board, employers highly value data-skilled employees — viewing them as making better and faster decisions while being more productive and innovative. Employees in Singapore agree: 86 per cent believe they make better decisions, and 81 per cent make faster decisions, when they use data. Across APJ, employees have indicated increased employability (49 per cent) and pay raises (48 per cent) as key motivations for improving their data literacy levels.



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