As the COVID-19 pandemic reaches a plateau, employers and employees alike have found themselves in a race to grapple with data fluency

Emerging tentatively from the COVID-19 pandemic, countries in the region now have to grapple with rising inflation rates and the rippling effects of the worldwide supply-chain crisis.

In response, vulnerable resource-poor economies such as Singapore are bent on building a world-class talent pool to remain competitive on a global stage and double down on transformation efforts.

Businesses will need more than just static information to drive decisions. Static information is like looking out the window to see what the weather is. It may be raining, but what you really need to know to decide on the right action is whether you are going to need an umbrella, a raincoat, or sandbags. On the business front, insights beyond static data will empower workers to weather the winds of change and keep pace with the demands of today’s data economy.

Predicting and preparing for the future with data

Akkasha Sultan, Country Manager, SEA, Tableau at Salesforce

Analytics can bring people from insight to action – fast. From the Great Resignation wave affecting labor markets worldwide, to globally rising inflation rates, the role of data in helping individuals, organizations and governments to solve critical challenges has never been more apparent.

Data has become the bedrock of all that we do:

  • Workforce data helps firms understand their attrition and retention rates, driving organizational leaders to reassess its human resources policies to retain talent and manpower. 
  • Financial data sheds light into the profitability of the organization, and illuminates where cost-cutting measures are needed.
  • Emissions data help organizations to understand their current environmental impact and what they can do to achieve net zero. 

One example is Zuellig Pharma which used analytics to identify trends and forecast demand for its products. Crucially, the firm was able to identify and remove counterfeit products in the supply chain to maintain a high level of product integrity in the market.

Data skills belong on everyone’s resume  

The true value of data is limited until it is in the right hands of the right people at the right time.

Nothing has illustrated this better than the COVID-19 pandemic, whose management was a data-driven event on a global scale. Data showed the spiking and waning of the infections, determined how societies chose to conduct prevention and treatment, and transformed how and where many people worked.

According to our own studies 91% of firms expected basic data literacy from their employees. However, only 28% of them conducted data training for all their employees. The data also showed that a majority of employees in the survey were more likely to take a job at another company that offers data training.

Critically, the more people that converse using data, the better the ideas and discussions can be, with a higher chance of leading to better business outcomes. The onus is on leaders to stress the link between data and business strategy. 

The link between economic optimism and data literacy

As our economy becomes more data-driven, everyone from the C-Suite to the frontline must be equipped with the right skills to stimulate innovations that build competitive advantages.

Upskilling a country is a tall order and will require strong partnerships with a range of stakeholders: academics, policy makers, and business leaders—working together, each with a unique role to play:

  • Governments in the region need to lay the groundwork for their peoples to access skilling programs
  • academics to provide guidance around vocational training that is geared to future skill needs
  • business leaders to guide skilling programs based on the evolving needs of their industries.

The positive correlation between economic optimism and building a data literate workforce is clear. And the time to act is now.