We have previously discussed the benefits and opportunities arising from the increased availability and access to data in the digital economy, including big data and open data.
Yet, the desired improvements that we hope to achieve through data might not come to fruition without the human element, that is if we don’t make use of the data to its fullest potential or, worse still, we don’t even know how to use the data in the first place.
This is why we need to possess skills and knowledge in data literacy. Although its purpose and emphasis may differ from field to field, data literacy can be generally defined as our ability to read, evaluate, work with, and question data.
It includes searching and determining data relevance and reliability; interpreting data visualisations like charts and graphs; thinking critically of data; knowing how to use data analytics tools; and communicating results based on data.
In an era where we are surrounded by massive amounts of data every day, being data literate allows us to gather insights through data collected, interpreted and visualised; and to take proper and effective actions based on our discoveries.
This becomes crucial in today’s workplace, which is increasingly dependent on data to drive its operations, including jobs and departments where data analytics isn’t their primary function.
This means that the demand for individuals with strong data literacy is on the rise, be it data or non-data professionals, and further indicates that data literacy is more common and significant than we think.
In view of this, more academic and practical courses aiming to boost data literacy are being made available online and offline for business, government, tertiary institutions and the general public around the world.
Here in Sarawak, for example, the Sarawak Centre of Performance Excellence (SCOPE) has recently partnered with Kuala Lumpur-based Center of Applied Data Science (CADS) – the first one-stop platform and centre of excellence for data science and analytics in Southeast Asia – to develop up to 2,500 local talents through various data-related and talent development programmes.
These future data-proficient professionals will then become the key to foster a strong data-driven culture and eventually contribute to the state’s digital economy.
While some of you may not have a background in data science and analytics, that shouldn’t stop you from improving your own data literacy, whether you’re in a technical or non-technical field.
For instance, you can develop a strong foundation in your mathematical, statistical and data analytical skills through short courses.
Essentially, get curious, ask questions and be comfortable around data so that you have a greater understanding and appreciation for its potential in your work, studies and daily life.
This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, published in the print version on Friday, June 1, 2018.