As businesses continue to navigate an uncertain economy this year, there is more discussion than ever about using data and analytics to inform the most important company decisions. Some organizations are reaping the benefits from their investments in tools to collect and analyze the data they generate in their day-to-day operations. But others have yet to make the full journey from information to insights to actionable business intelligence.
Companies in the latter position should realize that making data-driven decisions is no longer a futuristic concept or something out of reach for all but the Fortune 500. It’s simply the product of a series of small steps, which companies of all sizes and in most industries are doing today.
One such step is realizing the value of data produced by company training departments. Training data is just one form of data that organizations generate, but it is a type that is frequently overlooked when company decision-makers strive to make more informed decisions.
Nevertheless, the insights companies can glean from this information can make a profound difference.
As an example of this, one doesn’t have to look any further than one of America’s favorite boat manufacturers.
Reducing Turnover in Key Manufacturing Roles
A prominent boat manufacturer, known for producing reliable vessels for fishing and recreation, with a reputation of being a great place to work, faced a unique challenge—high employee turnover.
The company I operate, Administrate, worked closely with the company on figuring out why new employees were leaving and then helping to fix the problem.
Working closely with their leadership team, we discovered that the company’s training technology was not integrated with its other departments and business functions. It consisted of single-point software solutions, keeping important information siloed and unavailable to company leaders. This meant they had no visibility into why new hires left during or shortly after their initial company training.
Their training data was migrated to a digital format where learning analytics could be applied to it. It was then integrated with other software the company was using, revealing gaps and deficiencies in its training program.
Free-flowing data and learning analytics quickly showed the specific changes that needed to be made to the company’s production lines and training, and they dramatically reduced employee turnover from 50-60% to an astonishing 5-10%
Their training programs became a competitive advantage, offering comprehensive development opportunities for all employees, from newcomers to senior leadership. With streamlined processes and automated reports revealing real-time training progress and engagement levels, they emerged as a prime example of how data-driven decision-making can power a company’s transformation and growth.
Training data is too frequently overlooked when company leaders strive to inform their most important decisions with relevant data.
In just one example of its usefulness, companies can use data from their training departments to get a leg up in the increasingly fierce competition to attract and keep the best talent.
An organization that has integrated training data with other business software—the way our client did–can use that data to make the best possible decisions about investing in upskilling or reskilling their workforce to meet new demands.
Training data can be used to create more specific talent requirements, ensuring the right candidates are hired. This supports a workforce with enhanced capabilities and a stronger alignment with the company culture. Training data can generate insights into skill readiness and capacity, informing the potential impact on business strategy when entering a new market or pivoting. For example, suppose a competitor has released a new feature that you determine you must counter. In that case, training data can help anticipate how much effort–in reskilling, hiring, and upskilling–will be needed to ramp up development and production to counter the new feature.
From Information to Insights
The absence of comprehensive data—especially data related to its employees–leaves a business reliant on exit surveys and activity logs, which are inadequate. Compiling reports is a laborious process, resulting in stacks of disconnected spreadsheets devoid of any connection to an organization’s KPIs. To truly convey the story of the training department’s ROI, it’s imperative to establish a link between training operations and the organization’s KPIs.
Nearly every business today faces changes requiring training support for proper implementation. Spreadsheets don’t make decisions. Companies need insight readiness from your data to be successful.
The goal of any organization should be to convert raw data into actionable business intelligence, but to get to the intelligence stage, companies must ensure that they are using analytics to get basic insights from the data. This step is especially important when it comes to training data, as many businesses are not using it at all. To get started:
- Focus on reducing the manual efforts required to collect information by integrating systems to streamline data sharing;
- Leverage automation to scale the collection of real-time data; and
- Use training management technology to prioritize your team’s agility and efficiency.
At this stage, the team collects training operation data, lacking context or in-depth analysis. Data collection is usually manual, resource-intensive, and not easily scalable. It is also often siloed within point solution software and tools, making data analysis a manual, time-consuming effort. Nevertheless, the information collected here forms a crucial foundation for progress. It is also the first step toward business intelligence, which should be seen as a “holy grail” for any company that wants to infuse every important decision with more data.
From Insight to Intelligence
Leadership teams often reach the insight stage only to stagnate there. But they should push forward. Because while gaining insights into the past can be immensely helpful, it’s in the intelligence stage that companies can begin to see the future.
When it comes to training data, many teams move to the next stage by deploying a training operations platform, which connects learning infrastructure to other business systems. While not a simple process, it offers businesses the closest thing they will ever have to a crystal ball.
Real business intelligence means automation streamlines data capture and analysis. The collected data is both extensive and profound, offering diverse opportunities for analysis and implementation.
This stage facilitates showcasing training ROI, identifying novel approaches to harness organizational strengths and address weaknesses, and embracing data-driven decision-making. This grants a distinct competitive edge by accurately predicting the future impact of training, moving beyond historical data sharing.
Understanding how to evolve from simple activity metrics to decision-ready business intelligence is the first step in evolving your learning analytics into a powerful tool for your business.
This means dealing with volumes of siloed data. Leveraging technology to bridge data relationships between systems and your organizational objectives will not happen overnight. Still, the most forward-looking companies are ensuring it does happen for them.
These companies are the ones that are ready to embrace the future.
John Peebles is the CEO of Administrate.