How to Get Started with Learning Analytics

Current State

In today’s data-driven business environment, learning analytics has become an important tool for corporate learning and development (L&D) teams to measure, analyze and optimize their training initiatives. By harnessing the power of data, organizations can gain valuable insights into learner behavior, training effectiveness and business impact.

Corporate L&D teams often face challenges in demonstrating the value and impact of their training programs. Recent Brandon Hall GroupTM polling data indicates that most organizations (89%) consider themselves to be only at beginner or intermediate maturity when it comes to learning measurement and the use of learning data. (Source: Elevate Learning with Innovative Data Use Poll).

And many learning teams continue to run into significant challenges when trying to leverage learning data.

Traditional metrics such as completion rates and learner satisfaction scores provide limited insights into the true effectiveness of training. Additionally, the growing volume of learning data generated from various sources, such as learning management systems (LMS), eLearning platforms and performance metrics, can be overwhelming to manage and analyze effectively.

Complications 

Implementing learning analytics requires a strategic approach and the right combination of tools, skills and processes. L&D teams may lack the necessary data analytics expertise or struggle with integrating data from multiple sources. Moreover, ensuring data quality, privacy and security adds another layer of complexity. Without a clear roadmap and the necessary resources, organizations may find it challenging to leverage learning analytics effectively.

 

Implications

Failing to adopt learning analytics can hinder an organization’s ability to make data-driven decisions, optimize training investments and align learning initiatives with business objectives. L&D teams may continue to rely on gut instincts and anecdotal evidence rather than objective data, leading to suboptimal training outcomes and missed opportunities for improvement.

Furthermore, the inability to demonstrate the business impact of learning initiatives can result in reduced budgets and limited executive buy-in.

Critical Question

How can corporate L&D teams get started with learning analytics to measure, analyze, and optimize their training programs effectively?

Brandon Hall Group POV

To get started with learning analytics, L&D teams should consider the following:

Define clear objectives and identify data sources

Identify the specific business problems or opportunities that learning analytics can address. Align learning analytics goals with overall L&D and business strategies. Determine the relevant data sources, such as LMS, eLearning platforms, HR systems and performance metrics. Ensure data is accessible, reliable and up to date. This requires close collaboration with program stakeholders, IT and the owners of the various data sources to ensure you can collect what is needed. Involving the right people helps to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards.

Select the right tools and start simple

Invest in learning analytics solutions that integrate with existing systems, provide user-friendly dashboards and offer advanced analytics capabilities. Begin by tracking foundational metrics such as course completion rates, learner engagement and assessment scores. Gradually expand to more advanced analytics as maturity increases.

It’s a good idea to conduct pilot projects where you test workflows, data collection and analysis tools before casting a wider net. Implement learning analytics in a phased approach, starting with small-scale pilot projects. Evaluate results, gather feedback and refine processes before scaling up.

Foster a data-driven culture

Encourage a culture of continuous improvement and data-driven decision-making. Provide training and support to build data literacy skills among L&D professionals. Present learning analytics findings in a clear, visually appealing and actionable format. Tailor insights to different stakeholder groups and demonstrate business impact. Continuously monitor and analyze learning analytics data to identify areas for improvement. Adapt training programs based on insights and measure the impact of changes.

By following these steps, L&D teams can establish a solid foundation for learning analytics and gradually mature their capabilities over time. It’s essential to start small, build momentum and demonstrate value to gain organizational support and investment.

The idea of applying an effective and robust data analysis process to your learning data can often seem easier said than done. So let’s take a look at one approach that you could apply to a specific training program.

What Good Looks Like

Let’s consider an example of a company that manufactures and sells customizable furniture. They recently implemented a training program to teach their sales employees how to correctly enter customer special requests for product customizations into their order system. To measure the effectiveness of this training, the company can analyze various data points. Here’s an example of how they could approach this:

Data Used

Sales data: Transaction records including order details, customization requests and revenue

Training data: Employee training completion records, including dates and scores

Customer feedback data: Survey responses, ratings and comments related to customized products

Returns data: Records of returned products due to incorrect customizations

Data Analysis

1 Training Completion Analysis

✦ Calculate the percentage of sales employees who completed the training program.

✦ Compare the performance of trained employees against untrained employees.

2 Sales Performance Analysis

✦ Compare the number and revenue of customized product sales before and after the training program.

✦ Calculate the percentage of orders with customization requests correctly entered by trained employees.

✦ Analyze the average order value for customized products sold by trained employees compared to untrained employees.

3 Customer Satisfaction Analysis

✦ Evaluate customer feedback ratings and comments for customized products before and after the training.

✦ Calculate the percentage of positive feedback for customizations handled by trained employees.

✦ Identify common themes or issues mentioned in

customer feedback related to customizations.

4 Return Rate Analysis

✦ Compare the return rates of customized products before and after the training program.

✦ Analyze the reasons for returns and identify any patterns related to incorrect customizations.

✦ Calculate the cost savings from reduced returns due to improved customization accuracy.

Example Insights 

1 Training Completion

95% of sales employees completed the training program within the first month of its launch.

2 Sales Performance

✦ Customized product sales increased by 20% in the quarter following the training program.

✦ Trained employees correctly entered 98% of customization requests, compared to 85% for untrained employees.

✦ The average order value for customized products sold by trained employees was 15% higher than untrained employees.

3 Customer Satisfaction

✦ Positive feedback for customizations increased from 75% before the training to 92% after the training.

✦ Customers frequently mentioned the accuracy and attention to detail in their customization requests handled by trained employees.

4 Return Rate

✦ The return rate for customized products decreased from 8% before the training to 3% after the training.

✦ The majority of returns were due to incorrect customizations entered by untrained employees.

By analyzing these data points, the company can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their training program. The improved sales performance, increased customer satisfaction and reduced return rates all indicate that the training had a positive impact on the employees’ ability to handle customization requests accurately. This data-driven approach helps the company quantify the ROI of the training program and make informed decisions for future improvements.

A Word about AI

Several steps in this data analysis process could be enhanced by leveraging AI and machine learning techniques. Here are a few specific examples:

1 Sales Performance

AI-powered sales forecasting models can predict future customized product sales based on historical data, seasonality and other relevant factors. This helps in optimizing inventory and production planning.

Machine learning algorithms can identify patterns and correlations between employee training, customization accuracy and sales performance. This can provide insights into the most effective training methods and help optimize the training program.

Explanation: AI and machine learning can process large amounts of sales data, identify complex patterns and make accurate predictions. By leveraging these technologies, the company can gain deeper insights into sales performance, forecast future trends and make data-driven decisions to optimize their training and sales strategies.

2 Customer Satisfaction Analysis

Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques can be applied to analyze customer feedback comments and identify sentiment, key topics and recurring themes related to customizations. This helps in understanding customer preferences and pain points more effectively.

Machine learning models can be trained to automatically classify customer feedback into categories (e.g., positive, negative, neutral) based on the text content. This saves time and effort in manually analyzing large volumes of feedback.

Explanation: AI-powered text analysis and sentiment analysis can process unstructured customer feedback data and extract meaningful insights. By automating the analysis of customer comments, the company can quickly identify areas for improvement, track customer sentiment over time and make targeted enhancements to their customization process.

3 Return Rate Analysis

✦ Machine learning algorithms can be trained on historical return data to predict the likelihood

of a customized product being returned based on various factors such as customization complexity, employee experience and customer characteristics.

This helps in proactively identifying high-risk orders and taking preventive measures.

✦ AI can help identify patterns and correlations between product customizations and return reasons, enabling the company to focus on specific areas for improvement in their customization process.

Explanation: AI and machine learning can analyze vast amounts of return data, identify subtle patterns and make accurate predictions. By leveraging these technologies, the company can proactively identify potential issues, optimize their customization process and reduce the overall return rate.

4 Employee Training Optimization

✦ Machine learning models can be used to personalize training recommendations for

each employee based on their performance, learning style and knowledge gaps. This ensures that employees receive targeted training that addresses their specific needs.

✦ AI-powered adaptive learning systems can dynamically adjust the training content and difficulty level based on the employee’s progress and performance.

This optimizes the learning experience and improves training effectiveness.

Explanation: AI and machine learning can enable personalized and adaptive learning experiences for employees. By analyzing employee performance data and learning patterns, these technologies can recommend tailored training paths, identify knowledge gaps and optimize the overall training program.

By leveraging AI and machine learning in these areas, the company can gain deeper insights, make more accurate predictions and optimize their training program and customization process. These technologies can help automate repetitive tasks, identify complex patterns and provide data-driven recommendations, ultimately leading to improved sales performance, customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Conclusion

Implementing learning analytics is a journey that requires careful planning, cross-functional collaboration and a commitment to continuous improvement. By leveraging the power of data, L&D teams can make informed decisions, optimize training programs and demonstrate the business impact of their initiatives. With the right approach and tools, organizations can unlock the full potential of learning analytics to drive employee performance, engagement and business success.

 

 

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Matt Pittman

Matt Pittman brings nearly 30 years of experience developing people and teams in a variety of settings and organizations. As an HR Practitioner, he has sat in nearly every seat including Learning and Leadership Development, Talent Management and Succession Planning, Talent Acquisition and as a Human Resources Business Partner. A significant part of those roles involved building out functions in organizations and driving large scale change efforts. As a Principal Analyst, Matt leverages this in-depth experience and expertise to provide clients and providers with breakthrough insights and ideas to drive their business forward.

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