Lucy Stettin and Marvin Neumann are apprentices at H. & J. Brüggen KG, a food producer in Lübeck, Germany. Both are in their second year of apprenticeship as industrial clerks and are getting to know various company departments during their training. They are currently working in the Supply Chain Management department – where they are being trained in data competence. I talked to them, the Director Supply Chain Management and the Supply Chain Performance Manager about their experiences with Qlik.
At Brüggen, we try to teach the trainees as much data literacy skills as possible during their six months in the Supply Chain Management department. Often, trainees are resourced to the different departments to manually compile data from different sources in Excel. The aim of this manual activity is to create a visually appealing evaluation for certain recipients. However, long lists are often generated in the Excel spreadsheet and a corresponding visualisation does not take place. As a consequence, the recipients of the report “cannot see the wood for the trees,” reports Martin Gries, Director Supply Chain Management. “In other words, it is difficult to extract the insights that lie dormant in the data in tabular form.”
Starting with Data Visualisation
This has changed fundamentally since they started using Qlik. Qlik Visual Analytics, which is a core element of Qlik Sense, has accelerated the process of manually searching and collating data. This sophisticated tool for analysing data sets helps users to identify patterns and gain actionable insights from them.
The two trainees have already built individual Qlik apps for supply chain management that make it easier and faster to identify relevant information in data sets. The Qlik Sense tutorial has guided Lucy and Marvin step-by-step through building such apps.
Martin Gries is thrilled that raw data can be visualised in real time using drag & drop and that the AI even suggests how to display it in the most meaningful way. “This creates a wow effect and I realise now that this is possible with just a few clicks. And how best to present certain data, I don’t have to worry about that,” he says.
Apprentices as multipliers
Since Brüggen‘s employees have different levels of data literacy, part of the organization’s plan is to offer data literacy training to all managers in order to set a positive example to the rest of the organization. But in addition to a top-down approach, the bottom-up approach is working just as well: when the trainees go to other departments, they are inspiring their colleagues there as multipliers on the topic of data literacy.
Lucy remembers her time in the HR department. There she had to evaluate a training course and create huge Excel lists of over one thousand employees, which took a lot of time. Now she realises: “I could have done that much more efficiently with Qlik and visualised it better.” She now takes this knowledge with her to other departments where Qlik is not in use yet, and the detailed training has given her the confidence to build apps on her own.
Learning for life
Ever since Marvin started learning about data literacy at Brüggen, he has noticed that the topic of data literacy hardly plays a role in the lessons at his vocational school. In his first year of apprenticeship, he only worked a little with Excel, and data literacy was only covered to a very limited extent at secondary school. Now working with Qlik, receiving training and becoming data literate, he feels he has received a great privilege.
“I notice my understanding growing in terms of reading, understanding and analysing data, and I am totally impressed with the ease and speed with which I can analyse a large amount of data without having to enter different formulas for it in Excel.” He is now better prepared for a near future in which data literacy will be highly relevant, according to a survey conducted worldwide at the end of 2021.
Data literacy is not an end in itself
Martin Gries and his colleague Mandy Klimt were inspired to share their knowledge of the possibilities available with Qlik software. They see a great social relevance beyond the company and have already thought about approaching the Lübeck Chamber of Commerce and Industry. They are happy to share their practical experience with data analytics and their knowledge about data literacy.
“Data literacy is not an end in itself in the 21st century, but a basic competence to analyse data wisely and to reason with it,” Mandy Klimt notes. Since such content is not taught in schools and training, many trainees and young professionals naturally are not ready to use business intelligence tools when they start at a company.
At Brüggen, they now have one goal firmly in sight: intrinsically motivated departments that want to work with data competently. The trainee experience is just one example of how the food company on the Baltic Sea is well on its way to becoming a data-driven enterprise.
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