The Big Data Landscape

Big data is no longer an obscure term, seen as exclusively reserved for multinational corporations. Thanks to the rise of a multitude of software options, even very small businesses now have the opportunity to incorporate data into the way they do business on a daily basis.

The Big Data Landscape in 2017

Despite the increasing accessibility of data-related software solutions, it’s still difficult for many organizations to get a grasp of what big data really means and how it can be used.

One of the big predictions analysts are making is that companies will increasingly start looking at ways not just to collect data, but to put it to work in a manner that impacts their daily workflow and organizational processes.

Traditionally data was seen more as a means to gather information about customers and prospects, but more and more it’s also being seen as something that can give businesses a competitive edge when it comes to training, retaining and engaging employees, as well as a driver for other internal processes.

The Advantages of a Data-Driven Workplace

One of the biggest ways data is advantageous to businesses of any size is the level of predictability and forecasted outcomes it delivers. Rather than relying on intuition or the idea of doing business as usual, with the collection of data and a reliance on predictive technologies businesses are finding they can make more informed decisions and take much of the guesswork out of these choices. They’re able to look at incredibly precise and accurate models, and then monitor performance in real-time thanks to the plethora of available software options.

By looking at big data for HR-related purposes and employee training, for example, it’s much simpler to identify patterns and then make decisions that will alter these patterns to give your business a competitive advantage.

There are also opportunities to compare your own internal data against that of your competitors to see where alterations could be made to give you an advantage.

Using sophisticated algorithms can help companies win the talent war as well. At a time when top talent is scarce and difficult to attract and retain, using big data can show the links that determine employee happiness, and even how likely talent is to leave.

According to, the Xerox company was able to reduce employee attrition by 20%, simply by using big data to uncover the characteristics that determine a good call center employee. They were able to broaden their employee talent pool by using data to reveal the fact that call center experience didn’t predict success, and they also pinpointed the employee personality traits that would lead to longevity.

Data can drive innovation in any number of ways, from showing you new ways to hire employees, to exposing gaps in employee knowledge that can lead to new, more effective training programs.

Often data exposes problems businesses don’t even realize they have, and these problems would always go under the radar and lead to a business as usual attitude that wouldn’t stimulate positive change and growth.

Creating a Data-Driven Culture

One of the first ways to move toward a workplace that’s more reliant on data is to cultivate a culture that fosters its use in a variety of ways.

Start with transparency. The collection of employee data, whether it pertains to recruitment or training, can seem like an unseemly practice if you’re not transparent about it. Let all your employees know the role data plays in your business, its importance and what you hope to achieve through its use and the implementation of data-driven decisions.

When asking employees questions of any type, make sure they’re conducive to the collection of data pertaining to relevant metrics. For example, during an e-Learning assessment, make sure you include pointed questions that are relevant to the business goals you want to achieve as a result of this training.

Make the successes stemming from data-driven decision-making front and center for employees. Develop case studies and training content that clearly show the link between data and the spurring of positive changes in the workplace. You want your leadership team and your employees to trust in the reliability of a data-driven culture and evidence-based decisions, and the best way to build that trust is by showing them how it works.

Finally, encourage all employees to use data and evidence to make decisions in the workplace. It doesn’t have to be reserved exclusively for upper-level management and HR. Consider self-serve data software options with varying levels of accessibility for employees so they can see, at a glance, business-related data and perhaps use it in their day-to-day decision making.

Data and Employee Training

Moving beyond the general, big data can also play a pivotal role in employee training. Here are some ways to cultivate a culture of data as it pertains to training:

  • Possibly one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to up your training game through the use of data collection and management is to turn this information into personalized training programs. In the past, personalized training wasn’t often an option because of the expense and required investment of resources, in terms of time and money, but with learning management systems it’s much simpler and inexpensive to deliver highly tailored training, as long as you have the data to back it up. Using data it becomes much easier to understand the needs and deficiencies employees are experiencing and then to create training that speaks to these areas, without repetitive or unnecessary training.
  • Identify potential bottlenecks in the workflow process and train employees in ways that will target these issues and eliminate them. You’ll improve productivity throughout your organization if you can ID roadblocks and train employees to work through them in the most efficient way possible.
  • Let employees see their own training data in real-time as a way to compare themselves to other employees. This can be an excellent way to let employees gain a visual understanding of their knowledge and performance so they can self-identify potential problems, and work to correct them through training.
  • Using data may also give you insight into where your training is lacking or inadequate. You may find that by collecting data, you’re able to see areas that are consistently unclear or confusing to employees so you can then make the appropriate changes to remedy the problem.

Big data certainly isn’t going away. It’s quite the opposite- big data is here to stay, and it’s becoming increasingly more pervasive for even very small businesses. Now is a great time to invest in data-driven solutions including software and e-learning that will let your company cultivate a culture of data, power decisions based on numbers, and strengthen employee training.

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