Without data, you’re just another person with an opinionW. Edwards Deming
In today’s digital world, content may be king, but data is definitely a deity. Companies use data to measure just about every conceivable parameter. Not using data from customer training programs to support your business goals is the equivalent of skydiving with an umbrella. You can hope for the best, but the outcome is most certainly not going to deliver the results you want.
How can you use data to support your business? And how can the data derived from your training programs make a genuine impact?
Much better decision making
No matter how you slice and dice it (you can take that as a pun, if you wish – we are, after all, talking about data), every decision you make needs to start with the data. The ability to collect, process and draw relevant conclusions from different sources data is vital to developing effective training programs which are beneficial to your business.
There’s little point in churning out learning and training programs if the professionals who design them don’t gather (and act upon) some extremely relevant information. It might be at what time of day or in which market your users are learning. Another piece of relevant data could be on what device your users are consuming their training. Understanding whether they are learning from a mobile device rather than a desktop/ laptop could indicate that learning is much closer – and more relevant – to the learner’s actual work.
Maybe you want to track how long your users are actually spending on a particular module. If your module is 4 minutes long and your user is only learning for 1 minute, then this is mandatory to know so you can either adjust the length of your module or adapt the content.
Yes, at first, it can be intimating
Big Data is a term that is thrown around these days and not everyone understands what it means or how valuable it is. It’s a term used to describe large, hard-to-manage volumes of data and, if used as it is intended, helps us target exactly how we should plan, structure, and execute our future learning programs. Data should be analyzed for insights that improve decision-making and support (or otherwise give legitimacy to veto) strategic moves related to future learning programs, empowering decision-making and otherwise support the business.
The key to supporting the decisions you need to make about future learning, and in fact, most decisions made within the company that drive its KPIs and its overall business goals, all point back to the data. What you learn from the data helps you shape future learning.
All of this requires continuous data analysis. Big Data literally helps us understand how we should plan, structure, and carry out learning so that it is as effective as possible for our target audience.
But what if you’re not Gen Y or Gen Z and you either have trouble accessing the data or you just don’t know how to interpret it? Although there are many ways to drill down to collect relevant data, the simplest is Google Analytics and it’s broadly available and quite user-friendly. There are actually lots of sites that can help you use it.
At SolarEdge Global Customer Training, we use Google Analytics, which provides us with a full picture of how the learning programs we design are performing. It doesn’t just present you with the raw data the platform collects, but rather harvests a vast amount of data and processes it intelligently, generating reports which present a very clear and personalized dashboard. This dashboard, presented as graphs, provides you with critical insight to make informed business decisions while also validating your assumptions. Furthermore, you can use the data from Google Analytics to support you in identifying current and future trends.
The most valuable data points that we monitor and analyze using Google Analytics are:
- How many learners visit our learning channels?
- Where learners visit our pages from
- Learning duration and content reliability
- Learner behavior flow
- How learners become lifelong learners
- What time of day learning was consumed, and from what country?
There are certainly many others that you might find valuable for your specific needs.
Data can surprise you
You might think that data is just a validation that you’re already doing everything right but sometimes the data you receive isn’t always what you expect.
I was certain that users were consuming the bulk of their learning on weekends. What better time to catch up? Based on this assumption, we released most of our new learning ahead of the weekend. But guess what? When we finally looked at the data, it told us a very different story. We learned that people were actually learning during the week while they were on the clock. We understand from the data that our learners consider training to be an integral part of their role and, as such, prefer to use their work time, rather than personal time, to learn. As a result, we began releasing new modules to coincide with the start of the work week. And the number of users shot up. This is a primary example of using the data to make informed decisions.
Another example of where the data had a direct impact on the creation of a learning program, we released a while back consisting of 5 lessons. The results of the data spoke volumes of how our users are consuming our module. We learned that rather than starting at the beginning, our learners were starting with lesson 3 and then moving to lessons 1, 2, 5 and 4. Without reliable data, we would never have known that. And now, with that important knowledge in our learning and training arsenal, we are shaping future learning modules based on our users’ consumption behavior.
Don’t ignore the data
The data is like a roadmap that guides your methodology and shapes your future training. If you’re experiencing a high bounce rate, for example, then you know you need to make adjustments. If a high percentage of your users are landing on your training site by using the URL rather than by other channels, then kudos to you – you’re doing something right!
Because you normally don’t have the opportunity to meet the people you train and for whom you’re designing learning, and you don’t usually get verbal or even feedback, the data is your most valuable tool. Sure, you can send out surveys and hope that your learners will tell you what they think, but the data gives you real-time feedback. People can answer any way they like in a survey, if they answer at all, and you have no way or knowing whether their responses reflect their actual opinions and behavior.
Not only can the data show you objectively how you’re doing, but it can also demonstrate whether the training is being consumed in the way that you planned. Did you design your learning module to take 3 minutes but the average learning time according to the data is actually 5? And is that good or bad? Only you know the answer according to your specific learning and training required. But all the data is there – you just need to at upon it.
Data can also help you identify trends in your particular industry based on users’ learning habits. It is also a measure of achievement where, in some industries like ours, users in certain countries need certification. As we can measure exactly how many users are receiving certification, this also helps us plan other aspects of our business such as R&D, purchasing and strategy.
Finally, the more successful you are at planning comprehensive training and learning activities that meet the needs of your learners, the less pressure your business will feel on your call centers.
Learning services are at the pivotal junction of every organization, connecting technology, customers, management, methodology, training and many, many other challenging domains. This exciting space positions customer training professionals to really make a difference to the evolution of the company. And as companies invest greater resources in training, it is incumbent upon us to use the data at our disposal to forge a clear path toward reaching organizational targets and goals
Written for OEB 2022 by Moti Elnekave, Global Training Manager at SolarEdge