Upskilling for the world of 5G data – and beyond - The EE

Upskilling for the world of 5G data – and beyond

There are a lot of things being said about 5G right now. However, one thing is for sure, says Jordan Morrow, global head of Data Literacy at Qlik: it spells a new era of connectivity. An era that will open opportunities for new services, while also delivering more data, more devices, and more instant responses.

According to the analyst firm Omdia, 5G is expected to have a bigger impact on the global economy than previous iterations, contributing more than US$13 trillion (€11.17 trillion) to output worldwide by 2035.

Consumers can expect faster connections, streaming and downloads, improved customer experiences, and more support for emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

But with more data, comes greater responsibility. And are we prepared for this? To be successful in an increasingly digital world means becoming an organisation that is fully data-driven and operating in real-time – just look at the likes of Netflix, Disney and Zoom, which are succeeding even in today’s current climate.

Such enterprises are not only delivering services quickly and on-demand but they’re breaking away by merging data and analytics to provide impactful solutions, which demands technology that can handle data and enhance the way we interact with it.

We can introduce new technologies – 5G is one example, but also the likes of 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and metadata catalogues – but unless there is a heavy shift in how we approach working with data, we will not see the true benefits from them.

Being truly data-driven requires data literacy

Jordan Morrow

There are many organisations across sectors that are still struggling to achieve the digital transformation expected in Industry 4.0. Though data can be incredibly powerful when used across a business, too few companies are investing in their employees to use it effectively within their roles.

Our research found while 67% of the global workforce have access to business intelligence tools and 75% have access to data analytics software, just 21% of the global workforce are fully confident in their data literacy skills i.e. their ability to read, understand, question and work with data.

The main obstacle to succeeding in the digital world is not technology or data, it’s to do with people. Not only must organisations provide improved access to data and the tools to harness valuable insights from it, but also engrain stronger data skills and a new culture. This is the only way to empower data-driven decision making across the entire organisation to truly reap the benefits new advances can bring.

Without this understanding, organisations will stand still – no matter the all singing, all dancing technologies such as 5G at their fingertips.

Engraining data literacy into organisational culture

Changing the culture of an organisation is by no means an easy feat. It requires a shift of mindsets, where people not only accept that data is part of their roles, but they embrace and feel empowered by it. Businesses could get lost in the addressing data literacy, but there are three key areas a programme should focus on:

  1. Leadership– There must be leadership buy-in for any data literacy programme to succeed. That’s because they are best placed to set the tone and agenda for cultural change, marking how to measure it, conveying its progress, and extolling its virtues.
  2. Tailored learning– No person is the same and so businesses cannot approach a data literacy program with a one size fits all mantra. People learn at different speeds and in different ways, requiring leaders to provide for differing learning experiences that nurture data literacy growth across that spectrum.
  3. Curiosity, creativity and critical thinking– The “Three Cs of Data Literacy” form the foundational pillars of nearly all data literacy programmes. There should be a strong desire amongst employees to know, understand and engage in divergent and novel thinking. This is more likely to occur when the tenets of such thinking are embedded in every part of a data literacy programme.

Preparing for the world of 5G and beyond

As we embrace the next generation of technologies such as 5G, it’s essential leaders create a data literate foundation that will make investing worthwhile. The best place to start is by diagnosing where an organisation falls on the data literacy spectrum, then working holistically with a business intelligence (BI) partner towards making the necessary improvements. It’s no longer enough to drop tools on users and hope for the best. Without considering the human side of data and technology, leaders will not be able to deliver true impact to their business or their customers.

It’s easy to separate those organisations who have embraced the digital transformation Industry 4.0 has to offer and those that have not. They’ve realised only by connecting data together with analytics will they have a winning formula. And data literacy is an essential component of driving this forward.

The author is Jordan Morrow, global head of Data Literacy at Qlik.

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