The data skills you need (even if you don’t think you do)

Feb 20
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Data isn’t just used by the analytics team anymore, nor is it used in a vacuum. Data is used by and affects virtually every role in the organisation, many of which haven’t traditionally demanded data-know-how as a prerequisite. 

We are well into a digital economy and, as government pledges to become ‘data-driven’, it’s important even non-data specialists are equipped with the ability to understand data basics and how data affects them.

Having data capabilities presents you with the opportunities to:

  • Manage technical team members
  • Be independent and no longer have to rely on technical teams for figures or stats
  • Make better decisions and ask the right questions
  • Communicate insights to stakeholders

You may not be a data scientist, but here are a few skills you should have under your belt, even if you don’t think you do:

Data Visualisation

Being able to relay your findings in a digestible manner is important to gaining stakeholder buy-in and understanding. In tight 30 minute meetings, you don’t have the luxury of sifting through documents and flicking between tabs to demonstrate your point. 

We’ve all heard of the ‘elevator pitch’ – you have 30 seconds to communicate your pitch before the sale is lost. Data visualisation serves a similar purpose – to communicate a concept quickly and achieve your desired outcome.


Correlations are how different variables change in relation to each other. Let’s break this down.

Two variables might be: (1) the quantity of new employees completing the onboarding process and (2) the number of people retained after six months. If the onboarding process is successful, the two numbers are positively correlated. This is because the first variable has increased (people completing onboarding) and the second number has increased (the number of people retained). If the opposite occurred, it would be a negative correlation. 

Preserving data quality

Data quality affects everyone in the organisation, including you. Every department produces data, be it productivity-related, indicative of consumer interest, engagements rates, etc. 

Organisations rely on quality data for effective business decisions. Bad data cannot help an organisation achieve its goals. 

To be classified as bad, the data could be inaccurate, duplicated or outdated. Every piece of bad data collected needs to be cleaned, otherwise it misinforms business decisions. So taking shortcuts, making a copy of a file for yourself, or leaving old information there ‘just in case’ is both a drain on manpower and potentially compromises organisational success. 

Do you want to enhance your data literacy and support evidence-based decision making?

The APS Data Skills and Capabilities for Non Data Specialists workshop will improve your ability to assess the quality of data, improve your understanding of basic statistics, and give you an understanding of major contemporary approaches.

Facilitated by Dr Hoa Nguyen, Senior Lecturer at the Australian National University, this workshop is being held in Sydney on 28 April, in Brisbane on 29 April, Melbourne on 30 April, and Canberra on 6 May. Click here to learn more.

Submitted by Criterion Content Team

Criterion Content Team

This post has been written by the Criterion Conferences Content Team. Based in Sydney, we are an independent research organisation, producing over 90 conferences a year across a variety of industries. Our events, attended by thousands of senior delegates from the public and private sector, are designed to enrich, inspire and motivate. Our focus is on providing innovative, value adding content via our conferences and blogs like this are extension of that principle. You can view our conferences by visiting our website

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