Big Data, Better Learning? How Big Data Is Affecting Organisational Learning
Big data. Even the term sounds intimidating to learning (and business) professionals whose analytical skills haven’t yet caught up to the demand engendered by the millions of bits of data pouring into organisations every day.
Big data is revolutionising thinking about learning and development and more people need to be aware of it. ASTD’s report, Big Data, Better Learning? provides a valuable insight into how organisations are now utilising this new resource, and, in particular, what’s driving the learning and development function’s interest in it. Robust big data aids decision making, provides hard metrics to measure skills improvement and intervention effectiveness, helps enhance individual learning and development, and increases overall organisational effectiveness. It also provides hard evidence to back up requests for investment in the area. Synermetric recognises the importance of useful data, and provides data-driven metrics for the development of individuals, teams, and organisations as well as expert training on designing, implementing, and customising people assessments to provide reliable data on which to base decisions. Data are now more readily available, accessible, and searchable and there are tools to help organisations get the most out of what they have, including the DigIn KnoHow applications available from Synermetric. These applications provide a platform for organisations to search and analyse unstructured data. Big data has had an effect on the culture within organisations and their ability to leverage for learning. Synermetric is pleased to support ASTD in sponsoring the Big Data, Better Learning? study.
Customer data, employee data, operational data, financial data—information is gathered in every function of organisations worldwide. And that information creates questions: How do we capture all of it? How do we store it and make sense of it? How do we discern the important insights data hold? How do we use data to create competitive advantages? And how do we leverage big data to drive vibrant, responsive, relevant learning programs that engage employees and contribute to better organisational performance?
There is tremendous interest in capturing and leveraging big data for learning. Although only about one in five learning and business leaders say their organisations are already involved in big data initiatives, nearly 40 percent acknowledge plans to begin their own efforts soon. That means that learning professionals have a lot of learning to do.
What benefits can learning leaders realistically expect to gain from big data? What capabilities are needed if learning functions are to manage big data effectively? Are those competencies already in place, or is a lack of know-how hampering early efforts to capitalise on big data? Have learning leaders begun to set aside the funds they’ll need to bring their big data aspirations to fruition? What challenges can they expect to encounter? What lessons have big data pioneers learned?
“I think learning-related big data is absolutely going to change the learning profession,” says Jenny Dearborn, senior vice president and chief learning officer of the multinational enterprise software firm SAP. But as a leader in big data use, Dearborn recognises the challenges at the core of learning’s ability to leverage the optimism about big data’s promise: “If you look at the skills needed to use big data and compare that with the skills and competencies most people typically bring to the learning profession, it couldn’t be more opposite. Traditional learning and talent development professionals are ill-equipped to develop the statistical models and create the algorithms needed to show the true business impact of the learning interventions they implement. So the question should be: Do they need to? What learning professionals do need is a change in mind-set to be more data-oriented and analytical, which will enable them to ask the right questions, architect the solutions, and create the business case for change.”
New research from ASTD and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) looks at those challenges and other considerations that learning leaders must address if they are to knowledgeably and capably manage big learning data and apply the insights it has to offer today’s organisational learning functions.
Interested in learning more? Click here to get the full report
You can also join the upcoming webinar in which Carol Morrison, senior research analyst at i4cp, and Jenny Dearborn, senior vice president and chief learning officer at SAP, will explore the findings of the report and how organisations are using big data.