I wouldn’t say I’m a numbers person. In fact, I’d say I’m the opposite: I much prefer words over numbers. However, when it comes to getting the right content in front of the right people, I’ve realized that numbers and data are critical to the success of training and development. Thanks to technology we are now able to capture amazing—maybe even overwhelming—amounts of big data, which Wikipedia defines as:
A term for data sets that are so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate … the term often refers simply to the use of predictive analytics or certain other advanced data analytics methods that extract value from data, and seldom to a particular size of data set. Accuracy in big data may lead to more confident decision making, and better decisions can result in greater operational efficiency, cost reduction, and reduced risk.
Whew—that’s a mouthful; however, here’s the key takeaway: big data can lead to better, more confident decisions that result in greater operational efficiencies. It’s information that we can use to inform our eLearning process and design.
Data can help you determine course content
Everywhere you look, data is captured—within all those numbers, there is information for eLearning designers and their subject matter expert (SME) partners to examine as a way to determine what should be included in a course. By using data from your customer relationship management system (CRM), learning management system (LMS), performance management system, and other company records, you’re able to develop targeted, precise content to meet learning needs.
For example, if you’re finding that customer service representatives regularly answer questions from customers about how to add more money to their gift card balance, that might indicate the need for enhanced training (for customers) regarding that topic.
Maybe the workplace injury reports have increased in your organization. That could indicate the need for a refresher on workplace safety training.
Data can help customize content for individual learners
Just as you can use big data to identify learning content, you can also use it to create a more personalized experience for individual learners. Making eLearning a more personalized experience for individuals is an important way to increase learner satisfaction, skills, and knowledge.
When a module is easy to access and developed around a learner’s strengths, they are more likely to log on and engage with your content. Thanks to advancement in eLearning authoring tools, and the data we can gather about learner’s preferences, designers can use data to identify favorite methods of learning.
Having the right LMS in place is critical to help you acquire and store the learner-related data you need. TinCan API has provided exciting developments in what data we can capture about simulations, mobile, and social learning.
Data can help change the discussion with leaders
Today’s executive leaders are looking for proven ways, backed by data, to improve results and evolve the talent in their organization. Big data provides a way for training and development teams to illustrate what they can deliver to the bottom line. But that’s only if we know how to analyze, use, and present the data in a way that illustrates the value of our content for learners and the business.
According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, “there will be a shortage of talent necessary for organizations to take advantage of big data. By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.”
Don’t let the complexity of the data frighten you. Instead, learn more about how it can lead you to make better, more confident decisions about your designs. With the benefits of operational efficiency, cost reduction and reduced risk in your favor, the time you spend getting up to speed is worthwhile.
Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.