Why a data driven L&D?

Almost every business is transforming into a digital and data driven organization. Shell is using vast amounts of data to find new oil and gas fields, Novartis is harvesting data to find the next best treatment for diseases, Philips is harvesting huge quantities of data from all types of personal and medical devices (not just Philips) to monitor and advice people on healthy living and improve the lives of 3 billion people.

Data is a new source of wealth and not only that. It is a huge and extremely fast growing new source of wealth. One that we should be using much more than we do today.

It is no wonder that data analytics is the top new skill in HR.

  • Data is essential to continue to demonstrate added value of L&D
    Data is essential to leverage new technology like AI and Machine Learning to improve the user experience and increase the impact of learning.
  • Data is essential to leverage technology to drive efficiency through automation of administration, and later on using AI to ‘robotize’ a significant part of traditional L&D activities.
  • Data is essential to deploy targeted learning and performance analytics for key business challenges.

More important, a data driven L&D organization will be much better prepared and equipped for a date driven new world and all new technologies and innovations that go with it.

If L&D does not prepare, it will miss the boat.

Imagine the following scenarios

  1. An employee receives feedback on his/her performance based on real time tracking of several data points in the performance system and analysis with peers and targets. Based on the performance gap, suggestions are being made on different ways of closing the gaps: additional exercise, joining and participating a community of practice, asking an expert
  2. An employee feels ready to make the next step in her career. Goes to their AI based learning advisor who then provides an analysis of current performance, suggests next steps in her career and activities that help get her there (including stretching assignments, building a network, external and internal communities and experts)
  3. A leader is redefining the strategy and want to know what skills and capabilities need to be developed in the organization to implement the new strategy. He goes to the AI based learning advisor and asks for learning analytics to better understand (1) what skills/competencies are required, (2) what is the current state of the organization, where are the biggest gaps and (3) what existing or to be created internal or external experiences or programs would suitable to close the gaps.
  4. The head of legal compliance is being periodically informed on the level of compliance in the organization. If the level of non-compliance is exceeding what is acceptable, she will receive a warning message that will include a proposal to fix the gap; including target audience, timelines, content and messaging.

Is this future thinking? Possibly, but some of this is possible even now, and the rest will be reality sooner than you think.

Will this mean that technology will fully replace all L&D activities? Luckily not. There will still be plenty of work for L&D, and some of that work will be very much like the work we do today; analyzing business problems, designing and delivering the most awesome learning experiences and personal coaching. But that costly method of personal development will only be available for a small percentage of your workforce. Your top talent, top leaders, and top experts.

The personal development of most of your employees however will be supported by data driven machine learning and AI!

The big potential I see is that AI will be able to provide the level of personal support and experiences that we have been looking for for many many years. JoshBersin confirms that employees want to continuous develop, but they struggle finding time. To make the best use people’s time you want to proactive approach them with relevant content, suggestions and activities. In that it does not matter if we’re talking about immediate performance support, or long term development of new skills and capabilities.

This does not happen by itself, nor overnight. We have an active role to play to tap into this huge potential. How can we do this?

  1. Accept the new reality & understand the future of work and what this means for your organization and your L&D
  2. Take an extreme customer first point of view with everything. L&D is competing for time of the employees, so we better fully understand their needs and make all visits to all your programs & content worth their while! Even better is to grow into the level of maturity that you will be able to anticipate their needs!
  3. Re-think the role and purpose of L&D and update your strategy (how you will support the (digital) transformation of your organization and how you will organise your L&D team to deliver on this promise?)
  4. Build or update technology, processes and capabilities. Making a conscious decision to go with tool vendors that have a clear strategy around data and AI. Make sure you include some non-learning tools specialized in data visualization, analytics and AI (possibly already available in your organization?)
  5. Start experimenting and building skills with learning data and if possible performance data. Reach out to any experts in (or outside) your organization to learn how others are doing it and help you building small pilots. When these are a success, you can start thinking about scaling up!
Creating a data driven L&D

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