SG Companies Bleeding Money From Data Literacy Gaps

Photo credit: iStockphoto/SIphotography

We understand that data is the new oil. But very few companies are ready to maximize on the value of the data. In Singapore, the problem is acute.

According to Accenture and Qlik’s The Human Impact of Data Literacy report, which surveyed 1,000 employees in Singapore, local companies are losing an average of over seven working days (56.5 hours) per employee. Only India is worse at 69.5 hours. It is also higher than the global average of five working days (43 hours).

In numbers, the procrastination and sick leave resulting from stress around information, data and technology issues amounts to SGD 5.1 billion in lost productivity. It is more surprising considering the amount of effort the government has put into STEM education and urging companies to become more data-centric.

“Despite recognizing the integral value of data to the success of their business, most firms are still struggling to build teams that can actually bring that value to life,” says Jordan Morrow, global head of data literacy at Qlik and chair of the Data Literacy Project Advisory Board. 

The survey also highlighted two reasons Singapore companies are falling behind their global peers. 

First, very few employees use data to drive decisions. The issue is a matter of confidence, not awareness as 90% of employees recognize data as an asset.

Only 26% of surveyed employees believe they are ready to use data effectively and 16% trust their own data literacy skills. These skills include ability to read, understand, question and work with data.

Old habits are proving hard to break. Only 35% of employees trust their decisions more when based on data, and 53% still defer to a “gut feeling.”

Skills is another area where Singapore companies are not doing enough despite the government push. When 84% of employees say they feel overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data, you know there is a problem. It is the highest percentage after India with 85%.

Forty percent of surveyed employees even noted they prefer to find other ways to finish tasks that do not use data. Seven in 10 respondents (73%) reported that data-overload has contributed to workplace stress, culminating in 47% of the local workforce taking at least one day of sick leave.

“No one questions the value of data—but many companies need to re-invent their approach to data governance, analysis and decision-making. This means ensuring that their workforce has the tools and training necessary to deliver on the new opportunities that data presents,” says Sanjeev Vohra, group technology officer and global lead for Accenture’s Data Business Group. “Data-driven companies that focus on continuous learning will be more productive and gain a competitive edge.”

To succeed in the data revolution, Singapore business leaders need to help employees become more confident and comfortable in using data insights to decide. Data-literate employees are also nearly 50% more likely to feel empowered and trusted to make better decisions. Almost half (48%) of employees believe that data literacy training would make them more productive.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/SIphotography