Do you know how much data is produced every day? The answer might shock you. According to a study by Northeastern University, 2.5 Exabytes are generated each day. This is equivalent to 530,000,000 million songs, 90 years of high definition video, five million laptops, and 250,000 Libraries of Congress — every day.
This data comes in the form of the photos, videos, and texts we produce every day. While there is some concern about the accessibility of this data and how much privacy is afforded to the average American citizen, no one can deny how valuable this information can be to companies — namely companies we work for and buy from.
Enter, Big Data
This data, when produced and stored for later use by a company, has come to be known simply as Big Data. This term has confounded many, but Forbes has a simple but effective definition of the concept of Big Data:
“Big data is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.”
Big Data comes in many forms: social network postings, customer web behavior, transactional information, supply chain data, sales records, and much more. Companies may think this information is only useful for marketing or financials. In reality, though, there is a lot that can be used to better support current employees and clients in their pursuit of training and professional development.
With so much information now available to companies, how can big data make online training more effective?
Much of the big data that will help companies connect the right online training materials with clients and customers are unstructured and ungoverned – for example, text from social media postings, online discussions and keyword searches, that doesn’t easily fit into a spreadsheet. This information is human-driven and can give quick knowledge to interested companies if they find the right tool to uncover the data.
Train and Trawl for Data with Online Discussions
One of the best ways for colleagues and consumers to train is to learn from one another. When many companies think of online training, they are likely to forget the benefit of online discussion boards and forums. Many companies have an external and internal “support forum” or “help desk message board,” for clients and colleagues to discuss technical and non-technical issues.
Companies can use a discussion board as a community learning station that provides deep data for the company while also answering common questions outside of support. Consumers can post questions, follow discussions, and share their knowledge right on the message board. It may be informal, but message boards can act as a self-guided learning tool.
Forums also can be a means for the company to collect data about situations consumers struggle with the most. By running unstructured forum data through a business intelligence (BI) tool, the company can uncover trending and popular topics and use that information to develop fixes for common problems.
The company can also gather data from the forum or discussion board about which features customers use the most. Online discussions can not only create an opportunity for self-guided training, but it can also create opportunities for companies to collect valuable data on consumers or staff.
Personalize Online Courses with Transactional Data
If you develop video training courses, you may think you do not have any information to guide curriculum decisions. This could not be further from the truth. We continually create a digital footprint that can be used for behavior analysis. Walmart has harnessed this power to their advantage.
Each hour the company is provided with 2.5 petabytes of data through transactions that is ripe for translation into training materials. Take a cue from Walmart and research:
- What do customers purchase the most on your e-commerce site?
- What interactions are employees having with customers concerning products?
Transactional data such as this can be used to create personalized online video courses for your employees or customers.
This can be applied to any industry, even beyond technology. Do you own an online fashion boutique? If a majority of customers purchase a particular article of clothing, then you could create online videos that provide tips on styling this product. Do you sell edible products? A cooking tutorial advising customers on how to prepare a highly sold item will address the masses.
Inform Webinars or Case Study Topics with Social Media Data
So, your company thinks it is a good idea to develop a webinar series or create a case study. Where in the world do you start? One thing is for sure, webinar and case study topics have to be timely and engaging. If they are not, no one will likely want to view or read them.
How can you find out what people are currently saying about your topic? Welcome to the treasure trove of data that is social media. Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, the list could go on and on for these platforms, and new data is being made on them constantly.
While they seem just like digital social hangout spaces, each one houses a myriad of data about specific topics. Many times, all you need to do is search by a hashtag to see what the current dialogue is on that particular issue. Maybe an event just took place in your industry and everyone has an opinion about it.
You can even find influential people in your industry that could have valuable input to share. Social media is an ever-changing and evolving digital space. Therefore, you can rest assured that you will receive the most up-to-date information to inform webinar or case study topics.
Predict Future Trends with the Help of Page Views
A significant trend for many companies is to predict trends and provide training and insight on those findings. You have probably seen an infographic detailing marketing trends for the next five years, or technology that will change operation standards by 2020. It is normal for companies to do this.
However, how can you begin to make predictions that can train people on what to be ready for in the next few years? Take a look at your page views. Did you just release a new product that has piqued the interest of internet visitors? Have you tested the waters by writing a blog post on some predictive trends and saw that it gathered a lot of views?
Web traffic can point you in the direction of what people are (or could be) most interested in. This information can help you develop training material to address future trends.
Gain Insights on Training Topics and Mediums with Blog Data
Another categorization of big data has to do with blogs and their comments. Use these to create training for employees and clients. Blogs are a great way to test the water and gain insights on training topics to cover and methods to use.
The comments on each blog post can be used as data to discern favorite topics to cover in training. Blog posts can also be used to understand which medium of online instruction is optimal. The data from page views and comments can help marketers and leaders develop training videos, webinars, and online modules to address topics that readers have expressed the most interest in.
Big Data is here to stay
It would benefit HR professionals and business leaders to understand how they can make this information work for them. Data gathered from social media can be as valuable as purchasing information taken from transactions. Companies can get ahead of the curve and use information taken directly from clients and staff to create useful training materials, thereby positioning themselves as innovating thought leaders concerned with learning and development.
Author Bio: Chanell Alexander is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. She is a freelance writer and digital marketing strategist. She has over seven years of experience in the nonprofit field, and enjoys blending innovative technology solutions with communications. When she is not writing, Chanell enjoys traveling, contributing to video game blogs, and embracing her inner foodie. See what else Chanell has been up to on her LinkedIn profile and Twitter page.