Why Data Literacy Matters
Growing up in a multilingual country, I know firsthand how learning a second, third, or fourth language can help connect you to more people and experiences. For knowledge workers today, the ability to “speak” data, just as one might speak a new language, is an invaluable skill.
In the past, only a small group of data scientists and technologists worked closely with data, but now every team from sales to marketing to product design is data-driven. Data builds the foundation for digital transformation across all industries, and businesses with a strong data foundation rise to the top above the rest. To be successful, everyone within the organization needs data fluency, but the challenge is that data is one of the toughest languages to grasp—it’s abstract, intangible, and difficult to understand.
To keep up with this shift, organizations often think the solution is to invest as much as possible in new technology. However, people are the real key to extracting value and insights from data. Organizations that focus on investing in promoting data literacy—which Gartner defines as “the ability to read, write, and communicate data in context”—are better equipped to innovate and drive forward data intelligence. As AI and machine learning increasingly become an essential strategic asset, data literacy efforts that can contribute to confidence and trust in data will be more important than ever.
Data literacy often starts with the CDO, but in order to build a data-driven culture, it must become a priority for all employees. CDOs and data leaders must first make the case for why data is vital to across the organization, and then gradually introduce education efforts that promote data literacy over time.
Just like learning any new skill, data literacy is an ongoing process that requires continuous education. We’re excited that we just launched our second annual CDO Summer School, which provides guidance, training, and support for data leaders and aspiring CDOs. Through the program, we aim to equip the next generation of CDOs with the tools they need to kick off data literacy efforts at their own organizations.
We believe that data should be like water—clear, usable, and available to anyone—and offering education opportunities that are free and open to all is key to increasing data literacy. The courses and certifications available through Collibra University provide the necessary training to help data citizens to understand the opportunities, responsibilities, and rights around data in order to build a strong data culture.
Working with data in this way is new for many, and it’s helpful for people to continuously collaborate and learn from like-minded data citizens who have faced similar challenges. Each year, the Data Citizens conference brings together our growing community to share real-world applications and best practices. I’m proud of how much our community has achieved in the past few years, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves as we continue to support each other in the years to come.
At Collibra, our vision is to democratize data so that everyone can become a data citizen. Learning to speak data fluently doesn’t happen overnight—it’s an ongoing journey that requires practice and immersion. With the right leadership and education, data literacy can thrive at any organization.
Felix co-founded Collibra in 2008 and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. As its CEO, Felix is responsible for the company’s global strategy and has led Collibra from idea to conception to over 8 years of record growth. Before Collibra, Felix focused on Semantic Technology research at STARLab at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He holds a master in Computer Science and Software Engineering from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and a master in General Management from the Vlerick Business School.