Magazine article Talent Development

The Data Behind Big Data: Learning Professionals Expect Big Data to Drive Big Improvements

Magazine article Talent Development

The Data Behind Big Data: Learning Professionals Expect Big Data to Drive Big Improvements

Article excerpt

"Learning-related big data is absolutely going to change the iearning profession," declares Jenny Dearborn, senior vice president and chief learning officer at enterprise software firm SAP. Dearborn, a big data thought leader, is a featured contributor to the recent study Big Data, Better Learning? How Big Data Is Affecting Organizational Learning.

Among learning professionals, there is significant agreement with Dearborn's optimism. The study by ASTD and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) found that 22 percent of learning functions already had big data initiatives under way. Another 20 percent of 418 learning and business professionals expected to implement big learning data efforts in the year ahead; 19 percent planned initiatives with a longer timeframe.

With references to big data growing almost as exponentially as data itself, ASTD and i4cp began exploration of the topic with a definition coined by Douglas Laney of Gartner. He characterizes big data as "high volume, high velocity, and/or high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery, and process optimization."

Armed with that understanding of big data, how might learning leaders envision bringing Dearborn's prediction to fruition? When it came to expectations about big data's ability to change learning functions, improvement was the watchword that emerged from the research.

Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said they want to use big data to better evaluate the effectiveness of their learning and development efforts, and 60 percent sought to improve learning delivery methods. …

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