C-levels pay more for data-savvy staff, but marketers aren’t prioritized for training

Digital transformation is becoming increasingly important for businesses and data analytics is on the list of skills needed to ensure success. According to Hays Asia’s 2022 Salary Guide, companies in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, for example, are all looking for people with experience in data analytics and automation. Therefore, it is even more important for employees to improve their skills and have confidence in their data literacy skills.

A recent Qlik study titled “Data Literacy: The Upskilling Evolution” found that C-level executives currently prioritize data literacy training for those working in specific data-related roles, such as analysts. or data scientists (58%), followed by product development. and research and development teams (34%), and directors (32%). Interestingly, at the bottom of the investment priority scale are HR and people teams (12%), customer service teams (13%), finance teams (11%), marketing (10%) and sales teams (9%).

This despite the fact that around two-thirds of employees working in these functions say that data literacy is already necessary to fulfill their current role. That said, 85% of senior executives believe that data literacy will be as vital in the future as the ability to use a computer is today. The majority of C-level executives (89%) expect their team members to be able to explain how data informed their decisions. However, they overestimate the level of data literacy in their workforce, believing that 55% of employees are confident in their data literacy skills.

In fact, only 11% of employees are fully confident in their ability to read, analyze, work and communicate with data, and 31% are somewhat confident and working to develop this skill set.

Meanwhile, 62% of employees agree that data literacy is necessary to fulfill their current role. There is also a wide disparity between the beliefs of employees and business leaders about the responsibility of preparing the skilled workforce for the future workplace. Among employees, 59% want their employer to provide training to improve their data literacy.

On the contrary, most C-suites believe that it is up to the individual to perfect themselves. Elif Tutuk, vice president of innovation and design at Qlik, said there’s always a lot of talk about employees needing to understand how AI will change the way they perform their roles, but more importantly, companies need to help them develop the skills that allow them to add value to the output of these smart algorithms.

“Data literacy will be key to extending workplace collaboration beyond human-to-human engagements, to employees augmenting machine intelligence with creativity and critical thinking,” Tutuk said.

Andrew Yeoh, Chief Marketing Officer of TIME dotCom, is a marketer who is taking the lead in this area by investing in external training and development of his team with key platforms such as Google, Meta, TikTok and SEO. It also invests in adtech and martech solutions, data visualization, CRM and CDP. “One of the key tenets of our team charter and philosophy is, ‘In God we trust. For everything else, bring data.”

Overall, while TIME dotCom employees are well on their way to mastering data, Yeoh said, adding there’s still a long way to go. “I believe that data is the great equalizer, it allows every individual and team member to have a seat at the table and bring value. Data helps level the playing field. Rather than to default to whoever has the loudest voice or the biggest salary who always wins arguments and makes decisions,” he explained.

Meanwhile, there are also companies that have undoubtedly taken off with their data literacy efforts. Stephanie Caunter, head of client strategy and marketing at AIA Malaysia, said the team was “above average in terms of data literacy”. As an insurance company, there is no doubt that the team lives and breathes data, from daily and weekly financial reports and automated dashboards to frequent reviews. That said, there is certainly still room for improvement.

Caunter encourages her team to improve their business acumen and understand the drivers of the business, which they can only do by talking to their colleagues and paying attention to business updates. “I also try to be a role model by getting my hands dirty manipulating data or gathering ideas,” she added.

Interestingly, C-level executives also indicated that they would offer a raise to candidates who could demonstrate data literacy.

In the United States, for example, the average salary increase for demonstrable data savvy could put up to $11,000 extra in employees’ pockets each year, based on the average annual salary of $56,310 as reported. ‘recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Australia, the salary would be around $17.6,000. Qlik does not have salary statistics for Southeast Asia.

Intuition always triumphs over data

The debate over intuition and data is ongoing in the marketing and advertising arena. Industry players have long argued that while data is crucial in informing marketing teams of insights and next steps, intuition remains an important and irreplaceable factor.

In the last year alone, the use of data by employees and its importance in decision-making has doubled. Of employees who reported an increase in data usage, Qlik’s research found that 55% said it included reading data and making decisions using data; 54% said it involved interpreting data and 59% said overseeing and managing the output of automated systems.

Despite this, in general, Qlik found that 46% of employees frequently make decisions based on their intuition, rather than data-driven insights, and the same percentage don’t always believe that the data available to inform their decisions is up-to-date and accurate. Similarly for senior executives, while 52% are fully confident in their data literacy skills, 45% say they frequently make decisions based on intuition rather than data-driven insights. According to Qlik, this figure is “concerning”. Additionally, 42% do not always believe that the data available to inform their decisions is up-to-date and accurate.

Industry players INTERACTIVE-MARKETING I spoke to had differing opinions in this area. Carsome Group CMO, Ravi Shankar, said in the age of data overload, “none of the decisions should be made by intuition”.

There is no bad decision with data, it is the analysis gone wrong, the result is also data. But nothing comes out of a decision that was a hunch.

Likewise, TIME dotCom’s Yeoh said at the heart of it that intuition is based on accurate data and feedback informed by past experiences. “Data should always complement and augment intuition. If data is contrary to your intuition, you should be open to learning, unlearning, and relearning,” Yeoh said.

Intuition can be great for making decisions, but according to Yeoh, you always need data to align, rationalize, and gain buy-in for your decisions, especially at higher levels.

Trying to convince your board to trust you purely by intuition is likely to be a futile and frustrating exercise.

AIA Malaysia’s Caunter also believes that when people say they trust their guts, it’s really years of hard work and real-life experience that are on display, and that’s extremely crucial. “Without that experience to guide you, you could actually either ignore the data, or even worse interpret the data in a way that misleads you or doesn’t make sense,” she said.

However, there is still a balance to be struck in decision-making; do you trust the data rather than your instincts or vice versa? Caunter explained that often when senior executives choose to ignore what the data is telling them, it’s likely because of a very personal experience that runs counter to the data.

“This experience is naturally valid, but as we continue to move forward in the world of data and machine learning, we all need to feel comfortable with the confidence that AI will be able to do good. best job analyzing millions of data points on even the richest human experience and brain,” she explained.

Discussing the experience, Geneco’s Chief Marketing Officer, Alex Chan, said it helps balance and bring out the best of both approaches. Using lessons learned from previous campaigns, Chan said he was able to get what he wanted from the data he had and once it’s aligned with his intuition, he can make an informed decision faster. for the team to launch into the market.

“We must always remember that data drives decisions, not making them. We must search, sort and tell stories, considering them as one of the key approaches to making a decision, but not considering them as an end in self,” he said. added.

Etiqa Singapore CMO Shirley Tan, who also believes in balance, also weighed in on the matter. According to her, digital marketing has enabled marketers to deliver campaigns and advertisements in a more targeted manner by using campaign management, allowing campaigns to be tested, adjusted and optimized for smarter decision making. . She added that this would not have been possible in the absence of data and technological advances.

However, intuition resulting from accumulated experience and knowledge may indicate that campaigns might work better in another way. “More than technology, marketing has a psychological element. Our instincts, knowledge and understanding of how humans behave or change their behavior when influenced by social/environmental factors are critical to successful marketing. “, she explained.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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