Data-literacy gap could cost Indian companies up to ₹33,216 crore in productivity, says report

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 26, 2020 Published on February 26, 2020

The lack of data literacy among employees could cost Indian companies up to ₹33,216 crore in lost productivity, according to Accenture and Qlik’s report titled ‘The Human Impact of Data Literacy’.

Conducted on behalf of the Data Literacy Project, the report states that employees’ struggle to comprehend and analyse data could lead to lack of productivity, affecting business value.

Accenture and Qlik’s global survey of 9,000 employees, including 1,000 in India, concluded that local companies lose an average of more than eight working days (69.5 hours) per employee annually, due to data stress.

The report focusses on the importance of data and the factors hindering companies from being entirely data-driven. It talks about the attitude of employees towards data and emphasises the skills required to work with data and how confident workers are in implementing the same.

Data in decision-making

Despite nearly 83 per cent of employees recognising data as an asset, only a few use data in decision-making, the report said.

India has the highest data literacy level globally, according to the report. More than 46 per cent of employees were confident in their data literacy skills in regard to their ability to read, understand, question and work with data.

“Interestingly, while more than half (53 per cent) of the employees trusted their decisions more when based on data, four in five (80 per cent) frequently refer to a “gut feeling” rather than data-driven insights when making decisions,” it said.

The report also emphasised the reluctance to work with data as an important factor contributing to the lack of data usage in decision-making.

Data stress

According to the survey, 85 per cent of employees reported feeling overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data, the highest percentage globally, while 47 per cent of the employees surveyed stated their willingness to find an alternative method to complete the task if available, without having to use data at all. Seventy-four per cent said that data-overload has contributed to workplace stress.

Employees in India who identify as data-literate are at least 25 per cent more likely to say they feel empowered to make better decisions and are trusted to make better decisions. Furthermore, more than half (53 per cent) of the employees believe that data literacy training would make them more productive. This is the highest percentage globally.

A research study commissioned by automation platform, Automation Anywhere, and conducted by OnePoll revealed that data entry followed by managing email traffic and coordinating between IT systems, while filing digital documents such as PDFs and spreadsheets in the right folder, are the most hated tasks among office workers.

Data literacy training

One of the ways to boost productivity, the report said, is by conducting training programmes to improve data literacy in terms of application.

Jordan Morrow, Global Head of Data Literacy at Qlik and Chair of the Data Literacy Project Advisory Board said, “Despite recognizing the integral value of data to the success of their business, most firms are still struggling to build teams that can actually bring that value to life. There has been a focus on giving employees self-service access to data, rather than building individuals’ self-sufficiency to work with it. Yet, expecting employees to work with data without providing the right training or appropriate tools is a bit like going fishing without the rods, bait or nets – you may have led them to water, but you aren’t helping them to catch a fish.”

“Encouraging and enabling data literacy ensures that our organisation is prepared for the future,” said Francis Rodrigues, Senior Vice-President - Business Insights, Data Labs & Innovation from HDFC Life. “At HDFC life, we created a CARE Framework which guides how data is used - C stands for communication to understand the business objective for using data; A is deciding access levels to the information; R stands for record-keeping of who is using the data; and finally E is for education to promote and enable the business to use data. For us, strategically managing and using our data has been fundamentally linked to customer experiences and outcomes, with value seen across the business. We know that with continued training, our teams will be empowered to make better business decisions.”

Published on February 26, 2020
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