Data Literacy – Start at the Top

Data literacy is vital to organizations, and starting at the top is vital to implementation

As organizations try to deal with the deluge of data they are presented with in the current analytics economy, a lot of individuals are asking: how do we deal with data literacy and implement a strategy to empower our workforce? This is an important and vital question.

Data literacy needs to be implemented correctly and with a strong strategy and framework; herein lies a key to strong data literacy implementation: the role of executive leadership and the Chief Data Officer.

A simple Google search of the term Chief Data Officer, will pull up many articles on the importance of CDOs, defining their roles, and so forth. The Chief Data Officer is a newer role to the executive suite, but plays a vital role to the success of data strategies and vision within organizations. A recent Gartner report states “The CDO is a senior executive who bears responsibility for the firm’s enterprise wide data and information strategy, governance, control, policy development, and effective exploitation.” Along with these responsibilities, the CDO has a role to help drive, implement, and empower organization’s workforces with data literacy. How can a CDO accomplish this? Below are a few things to consider.

Vision & Strategy

As we can see in the definition provided by Gartner, the Chief Data Officer is in charge of the effective exploitation of data, meaning getting value and insight from the organization’s data. To do this, the Chief Data Officer needs to enable the organization with data literacy power. The first step to ensuring the proper implementation of data literacy exists, the CDO must set in a place a proper vision and strategy for data literacy itself. By creating a proper vision, the organization will see there is full buy in by the leaders to create a data literate workforce.


After the CDO creates a vision and strategy to implement data literacy, the CDO needs to create a communication plan to share with the organization the importance of data literacy, the vision and strategy that is set forth to accomplish this, and a steady plan of transparency to the organization on data literacy itself.


The CDO can’t build and drive the data literacy strategy by themselves. The CDO should enlist the help of different leaders throughout the organization who can help ensure support and strength towards the data literacy strategy. This doesn’t necessarily have to be people leaders. The leaders chosen can be leaders within the world of data literacy, those who possess strong skills to read, work with, analyze, and argue with data. This team of “support” can help permeate out the vision, strategy, and rest of the data literacy program.


One of the key components of the vision and strategy set forth by the CDO is the need to have proper learning in place for all individuals in the workforce. When implementing data literacy in the organization, the CDO should invest in proper learning activities and curriculum to ensure everyone is empowered to uplift themselves in data literacy. A key to learning is understanding that each individual does not need to be a data scientist, but empowered with data literacy. The CDO will help enable this through the data literacy vision, strategy, and program set forth in the organization.

Overall, organizations need to have executive leadership buy in with data literacy to ensure it flows and works through the organization properly. By having an executive with a seat at the table, like the CDO, organizations are expressing their desire to succeed in the analytics economy and data revolution. To ensure your organization is ready, start by ensuring there is executive buy-in at the top. When this buy-in occurs, have leadership build a strong strategy around data literacy and then implement. Doing so can help organizations utilize the data necessary for future success.

#DataLiteracy implementation strategy is key to proper adoption, and starting at the top can be crucial to a proper data literacy journey.


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