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The data literacy value proposition for Africa’s finance sector

By , Africa Sales & Channel Manager, Qlik – iOCO
Africa , 13 Sep 2021
Suhail Rassool - Africa Sales & Channel Manager, Qlik – iOCO.
Suhail Rassool - Africa Sales & Channel Manager, Qlik – iOCO.

Data literacy is a business game changer – Africa’s banking and financial institutions are embracing what is now a well endorsed fact. Digital world leaders will emerge from the enterprises embracing and extending analytics throughout their organisations.

But low data literacy is holding many teams back and stalling digital transformation initiatives.

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

New research shows business leaders are struggling to master data literacy themselves. And that’s leading to widespread deficiency in data confidence. Without data literacy, C-suite executives can’t thrive in today’s analytics economy, nor can they drive any sort of cultural change toward leading with data across their organisations.

Key findings include the revelation that enterprise-wide data literacy is low – this despite the poor data literacy is highlighted as one of the biggest roadblocks to success.

Research reveals that only 24% of business decision makers surveyed are fully confident in their ability to read, work with, analyse, and argue with data.

* Senior leaders do not display confidence;

* 32% of the C-suite is viewed as data literate, potentially holding senior leaders back from encouraging their workforces to use data to their advantage;

* Future employees are under-prepared for data-driven workplaces;

* 21% of 16-to-24-year-olds are data literate, suggesting schools and universities are failing to ensure students have the skills they need to enter the working world;

* Organisations are losing competitive advantage because better data literacy drives higher enterprise performance: 85% of data literate people say they are performing very well at work, compared to 54% of the wider workforce;

* Data is key to professional credibility;

* 94% of respondents using data in their current role agree data helps them do their jobs better and they also believe greater data literacy would give them more credibility (82%) in the workplace;

* There is an appetite to learn;

* 78% of business decision makers said they would be willing to invest more time and energy into improving their data skillsets.

Results driven imperative

Technology disruption has created urgency around driving results, with banking and financial institutions seeking answers to their dilemma of discovering the source/s of repeatable and sustainable value.

Core banking modernisation programmes are complex, intimidating, and fraught with risk, but necessary to enable digital business. This latter is, of course, no longer a nice to have but rather a business imperative in an increasingly connected world where consumers, even in emerging economies, are reflecting a rapid rate of connection to high speeds networks.

Certainly, banking, and financial services today are no longer about the safe storage and transfer of money but rather about the flow of data; understanding risk; opportunity, and the changing needs of clients through the effective use of data.

With increased uptake of technology, the recognition and utilisation of data assets presents an immense opportunity to increase market share. In the past, expanding revenue streams could take decades but today it can be achieved in months with the big winners being those banks and financial services enterprises who have created the data streams, analytical platforms and skills required, that aim to fully exploit prospects.

From analytics ready data to insight - the last golden mile in unlocking value from data assets.

Data is only data - it has no inherent value – the latter is only unlocked once improved decisions are made from the data. Moreover, to acquire that insight you will need to analyse the data. Once the data pipeline and availability are both in place, there is now a platform from which to launch and accelerate value. It is now time to consider the analytics platform and the people who will provide the insights and actions required to unlock the value.

Through the deployment of the right data analytics solution, staff at every level, in every department, can uncover insights that drive competitive edge. By unpacking key performance indicators (KPIs) financial services organisations can acquire transparency with regards to trends, concentrations, and anomalies, making it possible to open a door to countless new opportunities – whilst at the same time mitigating emerging risks.

While data is the foundation of this new economy transforming it into analytics ready data and analytics, is required to find the insights which in turn drive actions that ultimately transform businesses.

If Africa’s financial organisations are to be able to cash in on the tremendous transformative power of data, the data platforms and analytics engines need to be modernised to keep up with recent developments. 

Staff need to be enabled to effectively read, work with, analyse and communicate with data.

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