Decision-makers in APJ ‘get’ data, but where are the skillsets?

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Organizations have increased their investment in data over the last few years, yet there is still a disconnect between what decision-makers believe about their data capabilities and what employees are facing on the ground.

According to a new study by Forrester and Tableau, data literacy and skills are valuable to businesses in the Asia-Pacific/ and Japan region. However, the adequacy and reach of existing data skills training are points of contention for decision-makers and rank-and-file personnel.

The majority of decision-makers in the APJ region believe their department can successfully provide critical data skills to its staff. However, just 40% of workers agree.

While most decision-makers increasingly expect data skills from every employee in every department, the study found that data skills training is not being provided effectively or consistently enough to meet this demand.

“It is encouraging to see businesses in the APJ region recognizing the critical role data plays in staying competitive. But the value of data can only be realized when all people – not just traditional data-focused roles – are able to draw insights and turn them into action, fast,” said JY Pook, senior vice president and general manager of Asia Pacific and Japan, Tableau at Salesforce.

“Businesses today must translate this recognition to commitment by investing in their people through training and development. Only then can they capitalize on the enormous opportunity in our high growth region and drive success.”

Not only does data literacy have a positive impact on business, but it also has a direct correlation with employee retention. According to the study, in Singapore, 83% of employees believe they will be more likely to remain at a company that adequately teaches them the data skills they need.

Currently, only 28% of businesses in the city-state provide data skills training to all employees – the lowest of any market examined internationally.

Damien Joseph, Associate Professor of Information at Nanyang Technological University’s Nanyang Business School, said that organisations that resist a data-driven culture are sabotaging themselves.

“We have long known that data-driven decision-making results in higher levels of productivity and profitability. The results of this study continue to show the benefits of data literacy and data training in the form of better decision-making, greater customer experience, and improved employee retention,” he said.

In 2020, it was estimated that the data skills gap was costing Singapore as much as S$5.1 billion annually. Meanwhile, a new report from AWS revealed that across key economies in APAC, the number of workers that will require digital and cloud-based skills will grow by 500%, from 149 million workers today to 819 million workers in 2025.

“To achieve this level of skilling in the six countries, the average worker will need to gain seven new digital skills by 2025, and 5.7 billion digital skill trainings will be required,” the survey added.

The study polled 2,000 executives, decision-makers and rank-and-file workers across 10 markets in APJ.

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