Data Literacy

What is data literacy, and why does it matter for your organization?

What is data literacy?

MIT defines data literacy as the ability to read, work with, analyze and argue with data. It’s a skill that empowers all levels of workers to ask the right questions of data and machines, build knowledge, make decisions, and communicate meaning to others.

Why is data literacy important for your business?

IDC, a global provider of market intelligence, forecasts a ten-fold increase in worldwide data by 2025. Increasingly, data-driven organizations will produce data literate employees that contribute more to their roles and help businesses sharpen their competitive edge in an aggressive global economy.

Data literacy will transform your business and put you in the lead, helping you build loyalty in a workforce that’s energized and empowered by your investment in their professional development.

Why is data literacy important for your business?

Why everyone should be data literate | TEDxBoise
Jordan Morrow, Global Head of Data Literacy, Qlik

“Large enterprises with strong corporate data literacy have shown up to 5% higher enterprise value — $320 - $534 million.”


Business decision makers confident in their ability to use data


C-suite leaders viewed as data literate


16 to 24-year-olds who qualify as data literate

Is your business data literate?

Data Literacy in today’s enterprise

Nearly every business is dealing with an incredible amount of data. But collecting it isn’t the same as understanding it — and we’re facing a critical skills gap. Low data literacy is holding many teams back, and stalling digital transformation initiatives across the enterprise.

Business leaders

Gartner promotes data and information as the second language of business. Yet new research shows that business leaders are struggling to master data literacy themselves. And that’s leading to widespread deficiency in data confidence.

“In a recent Censuswide data literacy survey on behalf of Qlik, more than 7,300 business decision makers, just 24% consider themselves data literate.”

Without data literacy, leaders can’t thrive in today’s analytics economy nor can they drive any cultural change toward leading with data across their organizations.


Employees without data literacy skills are struggling to match the performance of their data-savvy colleagues. This isn’t surprising given the vast amounts of information being produced every day.

“Despite 92% of business decision makers believing it is important for their employees to be data literate, only 17% report that their business significantly encourages employees to become more confident with data.”
“The more empowered employees are to read, write, analyze and argue with data, the more they will be able to contribute to their roles and the future of their organizations.”

Data Strategist and Best-Selling Author, Bernard Marr

How data literacy can advance your career

Qlik's recent survey showed that the vast majority — 85% — of data literate employees say they’re performing very well at work, compared with just 54% of the wider workforce. This represents a significant opportunity for businesses to transform existing cultures without much resistance from their employees.

Workers willing to invest more time and energy into improving their data skillsets

94% of people using data in their current job role agree that data helps them do their job better.

82% believe that greater data literacy would give them more credibility in the workplace.

78% would be willing to invest more time and energy into improving their data skillsets if given the chance.

Five critical data literacy challenges for Business leaders

Maintaining competitive advantage means that every employee in an enterprise — not just the data scientists — must be data literate for them to effectively contribute to the organization. Yet research has identified vast inequalities between people who feel empowered and proficient in using data, and those who don't.

1. Workforce resistance

Large organizations are built on years of tradition. Raising awareness that the business is moving to a data-driven culture will be critical to data literacy success.

2. No data champion

Because resistance may come from the top, data champions need a seat at the table. The roles of Chief Data Officer (CDO) or Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) are becoming critical to ensuring data literacy in organizations.

3. Lack of governance

Enterprises are experiencing unprecedented levels of data production and consumption, which is why leadership must be responsible for data governance to ensure insights are properly vetted.

4. Employee insecurity

21% of 16-24-year-olds rank themselves below average for data literacy confidence. The opportunity for businesses to merge digital confidence with data literacy as students enter the workforce is enormous.

5. Organizational silos

Data literate employees typically join IT or BI teams, and are often isolated from business decision makers. Establishing forums for these employees to share knowledge is critical to enhancing skills across the organization.

Discover how Qlik can help drive data literacy in your organization.

We’re on a mission to provide the education, technology, and business strategies that create a data-literate world — where everyone can speak the language of data, and use it with confidence to make discoveries that change the game.

A blueprint for data literacy

Regardless of the size or focus of your business, you can develop a data literacy program by following our 6-step approach. As teams cycle through the program, data literacy will deepen across the organization, and you'll enjoy a workforce that’s energized, empowered and loyal.

Step 1. Planning and Vision

Step 1. Planning and Vision

A strong data literacy program starts with a formal discussion to define your participants, funding and adoption timeframe.

Step 2: Communication

Step 2: Communication

You'll craft a thoughtful communication plan describing why you are putting the program in place, and conveying your leadership's commitment to it.

Step 3: Workforce Assessment

Step 3: Workforce Assessment

You’ll introduce participants to our data literacy assessment tool to help determine their comfort level with data. Learning roadmaps for each level will follow.

Step 4: Cultural learning

Step 4: Cultural learning

Your program will improve data literacy through learning that weaves into the existing culture over time as it continues to prove its value.

Step 5: Prescriptive learning

Step 5: Prescriptive learning

Our prescriptive learning roadmaps offer a “buffet” of data literacy resources for individuals to choose according to their learning style and available time.

Step 6: Measurement

Step 6: Measurement

You decide the kinds of metrics that will be used to evaluate the program, and how frequently progress should be measured — and celebrated!

Ready to learn more?

Our data literacy adoption framework is designed to help enterprises implement successful data literacy programs across the enterprise.

Access the best data literacy resources and experts to drive success

The Data Literacy Project is an independent global community that aims to ignite discussion and develop the tools we need to shape a successful, data literate society. Access a powerful ecosystem of resources and experts to help you drive success in your digital transformation.

Education and adoption

Spread data literacy throughout your enterprise

Our groundbreaking Data Literacy Program was developed to empower the entire workforce by bringing data literacy to everyone in your organization — regardless of role or skill set. Choose from a full range of educational options to improve your data literacy, and even become certified. Most of our offerings are free.

In addition, we also offer a robust Academic program to help educate and train the next generation of experts leading with data.


Our individual assessment will reveal your personal data persona, then provide the recommended resources and support you need to advance your data literacy.

Instructor-led learning

Immersive, hands-on training and full day classes delivered by world class instructors, onsite at your location.

Free, self-paced learning

Free data literacy courses, online learning modules, videos, reference guides and live webinars offer broad-based skills development.


Our comprehensive data literacy exam is designed to validate your expertise, and is available remotely.

The right technology for a data-driven culture

Central to our mission is to build technology that can raise data literacy for people at all levels of an organization. Qlik Sense® removes the roadblocks caused by mountains of disorganized data and the limitations of linear, query-based data exploration — accelerating data literacy across the organization.

All data, in everyone’s hands

Want the most value from your data? Give everyone on your workforce access to it. Qlik Sense takes raw data from all corners of your enterprise and transforms it into analytics-ready information anyone can access and explore.

Freedom to explore

Qlik Sense’s one-of-a-kind Associative Engine connects every piece of data with every other piece. Now, anyone can dive in and explore information without boundaries, discovering hidden insights as they go. No queries, and no waiting required.

Human curiosity, amplified

Curiosity can lead to effective insights, but combine it with the power of AI and there's no limit to what we can discover. Qlik Sense taps into our natural intuition and sharpens its power with machine intelligence. We call it augmented intelligence. You’ll call it more brainpower.

Data Literacy Success Stories

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