How to read, write & communicate data better

Understand and harness the power of data to grow your business.



As a business owner, it can be easy to feel surrounded and overwhelmed by data. After all, in our ever-connected world, data is everywhere and in everything; from the employee details you have on file to your company’s financial records. Big or small, raw or processed, open or closed.

Data means a lot of things and comes in many forms. But for business owners, it’s essential for informing decision making – and it is only becoming more important. From tracking employee satisfaction to understanding customer preferences, there are almost unlimited ways data can give insight into your business. But what can you do with this insight and why should you care? Well, being data-driven has a whole host of benefits. Research has found that 88% of business leaders believe using data helps them to stay on top of customer needs and trends. This ultimately means staying ahead of changing customer behaviours and responding in a way that prepares the business for the future. Here are just a few business benefits of tapping into data:



Make better business decisions



When faced with all the decisions that come with owning a business, it can sometimes be a challenge to know what's the right thing to do. This is where data can make a big difference. Data can give you the insight to see where your business is performing – and where it isn’t. Then, you can assess what the best next steps are. Do you need to put more resources into a certain area? Should you change strategy on how you’re approaching something? These are the types of questions data can help you answer, helping you to act on what really matters. For example, you might find that your finance department is struggling to prepare key statements in time for end of month or input budgets easily. Data can highlight these inefficiencies, helping to signal a need for investment in more staff or better software.



Stop wasting time and money



With the right data in hand, you can identify where unnecessary costs are being made and cut back. Maybe you’re spending money on inefficient software or systems that your employees just don’t use, or running inefficient equipment is causing a hike in your energy bills. Data gives businesses the insight needed to understand areas such as these that are draining their budgets. Then, once cut, spending can be redirected towards where it’s really needed. At the same time, data can also give you the ability to identify inefficiencies and time-intensive tasks that could be automated. Imagine your customer service team are spending a large chunk of time responding to email queries they get every day – this is where data can help you identify this and signal a need for automation. Through this, you can make sure staff are spending time on what matters.



Get to know your customers better



Getting to grips with customer needs is essential if you want to build strong relationships. And data can give you the key to making sure they come back and remain loyal. Every time a customer interacts with your business, this unlocks a vital piece of information about their preferences. This can be anything from how they engage with your business on social media or what they reach out to customer service about. All this information can be pieced together to create a picture of your customers. By building a profile of your target audience, you can understand what they really want and provide a service that delivers this.



Hire the right talent



Having the staff with the right skills is equally important for achieving business success – and data can make sure that you’re hiring the best people for the job. For example, if a large part of your business is project based, but you’re lacking the employees to lead and manage them, employee data and performance metrics can highlight this and help you identify what skills are missing. Then, you can plug the gaps and match candidates’ experience to the demands of the business. And when you hire the right people for the right role, this boosts employee satisfaction and overall productivity too.



Become more sustainable



As more businesses journey towards going green, data is helping them along the way. Being a truly sustainable business means embracing data to help you understand where your business can reduce its negative impacts. Data can provide insights across all aspects of your business and highlight where you can make the most effective changes. One area this can highlight is how much energy your business is using, helping you to take measures to limit this such as changing the equipment you use or something as simple as making sure you’re switching off computers and lights when the office is closed.



Top courses to understand data



Data is so universal that, for many, it’s almost become too vague to pin down what it is and how it can benefit your business. This is where data skills – aka data literacy - come in.



What is data literacy?



Data literacy is, quite simply, a phrase used to describe the ability to identify, understand, and analyse data in context. In essence, it’s about taking heaps of raw data and converting it into usable and actionable information that can benefit your business. And the benefits of having data literate employees can be measured on a company’s bottom line. Gartner says that by 2023, data literacy “will have become essential in driving business value.” There’s a flipside, of course, as Gartner goes on to say that “poor data literacy is ranked as the second-biggest internal roadblock to the success of the CDO’s office.” But as technologies like AI and machine learning become more common, the volume of data that businesses have to process is only set to increase. So, the need for data-analytically-minded people is skyrocketing.

Getting these people on board can be trickier than it sounds though, as the digital skills gap is real with the European Commission noting that 42% of Europeans lack basic digital skills. This is worrying when you consider that 90% of professional jobs in Europe require a basic level of digital knowledge. So, it's clear that this supply-demand imbalance needs correcting.



How do you become data literate?



When it comes to data literacy, upskilling existing employees can be far more cost effective than hiring new already-trained staff. Training staff has other benefits too – especially retention. After all, 32% of employees reported that they changed their jobs in the last 12 months due to a lack of upskilling opportunities, according to data experts, Qlik.

Fortunately, the road to harnessing and deploying these data skills is right in front of you, specialised courses designed to take your team from data zeros to data heroes. But not all businesses have the resources or funds to invest in extensive or tailor-made courses. So, we explored various online courses – requiring varying time and budget investment – that both business leaders and employees can get stuck into.

Here are our favourites:



CareerFoundry

Time: Learn the essentials of data analytics in 1 month.

Cost: £550 upfront.

CareerFoundry offers a range of data analytics packages, from introductory to specialist courses. We really like this Introduction to Data Analytics Course because it’s flexible, hands-on, and gives you one-to-one time with expert mentors. It’s a good option for budding data explorers.



Meta Blueprint: Work with data

Time: On-demand to suit your schedule

Cost: Free and you can discover more with our V-Hub partnership here.

Facebook Blueprint hosts a range of courses designed to help busy business leaders top up their knowledge on certain subjects without a huge time commitment. The Work with data course hosted there is designed to introduce a range of data disciplines to those new to the subject; from understanding variables to spotting outliers.



Datacamp

Time: Various options depending on what you can fit in.

Cost: Depends, but it’s free to begin.

Datacamp’s motto is ‘data drives everything’, and if you head over to their unique website, you’ll see they offer a huge range of data and data-adjacent learning options – including coding – so you can tap into what courses suit you best.



Dataquest

Time: Flexes with the course.

Cost: Different options for different needs.

Dataquest prides itself on having real-world challenges and projects, instead of video lectures. If you, or your team, are looking for efficient, hands-on learning, they might be for you. Even better, you can sign up to their introductory package for free.



Coursera

Time: Learn to your schedule.

Cost: Free.

The data literacy specialisation at Coursera is free, and lets you learn at a pace that suits your schedule. Set by the renowned John Hopkins University in Maryland, USA, the course starts with an introduction to data before walking you through measurement, regression models, and onto probability. A little more academic than the other options on this list, but good for a grounding in data literacy.



Udemy

Time: 4-hours of on-demand video, 10 downloadable resources.

Cost: £59.99 for personal use, however V-Hub offer many courses for free here.

Udemy’s ‘The Data Literacy Course: Learn How to Work With Data’ is a little more compressed than other courses on this list, but its brevity doesn’t take away from its impact. It’s positioned as the perfect starter course for a beginner – from understanding data terminology, through to how to interpret data. A quick tour through data literacy for anyone with a busy working schedule.



Want to dive deeper into how data literacy can benefit your business? Find out how to use data to improve your company.

Or if you want to learn how to make the most of data in your business directly, speak to our V-Hub Digital Advisers.

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