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Data literacy is mission critical: Here’s why

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Dave Kim
David Kim

“It’s estimated that 1.7MB of data are created every second for every person on earth—the same amount of data needed to store an 850-page book, per second.” — Richard Stengel, TIME

According to the World Economic Forum, the ever-expanding universe of data, along with the explosion of new technologies, presents us with “the opportunity and responsibility to help everyone harness intelligent technologies in order to create an inclusive, human-centered future.” The World Economic Forum calls this moment our “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” which “represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work, and relate to one another. It is a new chapter in human development.”

The social impact of innovation

As businesses and leaders from across the globe seek solutions and approaches to leading this fourth industrial revolution, NetApp® continues to drive innovation in a world of disruption. And our innovation includes making positive social impact in living out our value of community. That’s been our commitment for 30 years as our teams have been at the forefront of change through successive revolutions in technology and business models. We continue to deepen our data expertise to support our customers, partners, and our own company as we navigate the digital transformation that is reshaping every industry, every sector, and every community.

As chief diversity officer at NetApp leading Social Impact, I know that this urgent need to understand data is no longer confined to engineering or computer programming; it has become an essential skill in the world of work and in multiple facets of our lives. We believe that data can be a force for good to provide a competitive advantage and improve productivity—and also to make us better citizens. Yet the reality is that data science was identified as the largest skill gap according to the World Economic Forum in The Future of Jobs Report 2020.

Helping students become data-literate citizens

We need data-literate citizens just as much as we need data-literate employees. Therefore, we must provide more avenues for young people to work with data in ways that will better prepare them for learning and the world of tomorrow so that no one gets left behind. This work needs to happen starting early in their educational journeys. But according to data literacy experts, experiences with data are rare in today’s K–12 classrooms. Not only are these experiences uncommon in early learning, but equitable access to building data skills is also a real challenge:

Reports show significant racial gaps among student outcomes in data literacy. For example, in the United States, Black 4th-graders scored 28 points lower than their white peers in the Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability section of the National Center for Education Statistics math exam. Success in a world of data is something all of us should have access to, and it must include diverse teams of people who reflect the rich perspectives of our world.

At NetApp, we believe we must work together to rise to this moment by finding ways to empower young people with the tools to thrive. But we understand that we cannot make significant sustainable impact alone. Alongside our partners and customers, we have a unique opportunity to apply our people’s talent, values, and vision to globally scale our social impact. Engaged, passionate people who care are the core of any significant transformation.

Our NetApp team is at the forefront of this continuous change in the data and data infrastructure landscape, and we’re committed to addressing the needs of our times. To learn more about how we all can expand data literacy and bridge the data skills gap, join us at NetApp INSIGHT 2023

David Kim

David Kim, NetApp’s first Chief Diversity Officer, drives the strategy and vision for DI&B, including recruiting, hiring, career development, and representation and overseeing NetApp’s Social Impact program.

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