Do You Speak A Second Language?

With the ever-growing increase of data, individuals need skills in data literacy, but this doesn’t just mean analytical skills; we need to speak the language of data.

Have you ever traveled the world, to a faraway destination, excited to see the local sights, eat the amazing food, and enjoy the new culture? Traveling the world can be one of the most exciting things that we can do! Unfortunately, at times, we run into a common barrier that can frustrate us, limit us in our pursuits, and make our travel become an experience that does not live up to our expectations: language.

Languages all over the world are beautiful; the fact that we can communicate to others in so many ways amazes me. At the same time, language presents barriers, and unfortunately – frustration at times. The inability to communicate can throw off entire trips, projects, and many other things. Currently, we are finding a new language, the language of data – and although it has been around for decades, it is causing frustration, barriers, and can even cause the disruption and impedance of data and analytical strategies. Valerie Logan of Gartner, recently published “Getting Started With Data Literacy and Information as a Second Language: A Gartner Trend Insight Report remarks “The increasingly pervasive nature of data makes it crucial for all employees to learn to ‘speak data.’” It is becoming more and more vital that everyone have the ability to communicate and speak the language of data in-order-to see successful data and analytical projects. Why is the ability to speak data becoming crucial not only in business, but life in general?

I want you to imagine again that you have just run an in-depth analysis of your organizations data, and through this analysis you have found great insight that can bring value to your business unit.Along with your business unit, maybe more importantly, this insight will bring value to the overall organization. You put together a strong case and present it to your audience. Very quickly, as you are presenting, you notice the audience doesn’t seem to be paying close attention, some seem to be off day dreaming or have a glossed over look in their eyes. Why is this? Because the audience didn’t understand the terminology and language of data, they were lost, and the great insight you found is also lost.Has something of this nature happened to you before? Have you talked to someone and they didn’t seem to gather anything you said? As I have spoken to many different organizations, across different industries and countries, this is a very common issue within the world of data! Organizations need to have a common language spoken with data, as it will help to overcome these barriers and issues. What can be done to create this common language?

Tips for the Language of Data:

  • Simplicity – Keep things simple, leaving out the jargon of data, analytics, and statistics.
  • Data Dictionary – create a common data dictionary that all can utilize. This will help set in stone the common terms and phrases the organization should be using.
  • From Valerie at Gartner – Explore how your employees speak, place your data and analytical language in their common ways to converse. This will help the culture to thrive and absorb the language of data.
  • Transparency – Create transparency in the analyses you perform, allowing others to understand and what is happening.
  • Practice, practice, practice – When we see children learn a language, they go for it. Practice constantly, trying out the new phrases you are learning.
  • “Be wrong” – When learning a new language, don’t be afraid of being wrong. Along with practice, trying the new phrases without fear allows you to see if you are right or learn how to utilize the terms correctly.
  • Mentor – If you speak the language of data well, they help others to do the same.

Overall, speaking the language of data is one of the most important things an individual or organization can do in-order-to have success with data and analytical strategies and initiatives. Not understanding data, information, or the software being used, puts a quick and detrimental halt to the work; work hard to overcome this. Wherever you are in your data literacy journey, take the time to learn and grow within the language of data. Doing so can help you to become data brilliant.

Read on as @analytics_time describes data and why it is a crucial language.


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