7 Jun 2019Blog

Data confused or data competent? The choice is yours

Data competency is a business-critical requirement. Your employees have to keep track of the new tools. Machine learning, automation, mobile application development. There’s a huge amount to learn. And this is why data competency training is an invaluable resource in the quest to stay competitive.

The road to success is paved with data training

The Data Champions Programme  was a tailored training carried out with UPM, a global leader in the forest industry.

Tuomas Melin, Team Lead & Data Engineer at Solita, was the course leader of the Data Champions Programme. He’s in no doubt as to the applicability of data competency training for a whole range of industries: “We know that participants really valued learning different skills. Training is a competitive edge. Being viewed as a company that gives you access to these types of learnings is really relevant.”

Based on the Data Champions Programme, we’ve compiled a checklist of the five essentials you need to ensure your data competency training is successful.

1 – Never underestimate the desire to learn

You may be surprised at how eager your team is to try out new and exciting things. Data training is all about offering your employees choices. Can a task be automated? Can a simple machine learning technique enhance this project? Your people may not know the answers until they’ve taken part in training.

2 – Don’t forget self-learning is self-empowerment

For the Data Champions Programme, over 4,000 work hours were invested in the training. For some of the participants, this meant between two to three days each month used for career development – and ultimately business maturation for their organisation.

3 – Gently nudge the comfort zone

A unique challenge of data competency training for large organisations? The varying degrees of expertise and experience inside the participant group. This is where effective course structure comes into its own. For example, the Data Champions Programme assigned homework to each participant, making the teaching tangible.

4 – Fail fast: succeed faster

Solita and UPM collaborated closely on the Data Champions Programme. And it was agile all the way. As Tuomas puts it: “If we got feedback that the training was too general or too deep, we adjusted the level of knowledge and repetition – and we did this continuously.”

5 – Transformation begins with training

One thing data competency training’s not about? Miracles. Your team won’t be turned into overnight data wizards. But they will be given the tools they need to put new ways of working into their daily methods. Over time this leads to business transformation. It all starts with the smallest of steps – a belief in the power of data and the enthusiasm of your team. This is what made the Data Champions Programme a success.

Over to Tuomas again: “This training was a way to get UPM’s people involved in new initiatives. It wasn’t viewed as just a short project but as something to get change going in new ways of working. It gave participants ownership of these new types of solutions.”

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