No More Blind Spots: The Business Case for Learning Ecosystem Analytics

Increasingly, organizations are supplementing their core LMS functionality with additional platforms such as LXPs, video platforms, and quizzing tools. Each has a specific purpose to meet an organization’s unique requirements. The collection and integration of these platforms are known as a learning ecosystem.

But with learning happening across many systems, how do you keep track of it all? In this post, we look at learning ecosystem analytics and the value of bringing all your data from your learning platforms, systems, tools, and apps together in one place.

This Building a Business Case for Learning Analytics series outlines the business benefits of learning analytics and equips you to build a case for implementing a learning analytics platform like Watershed in your organization. If you’re new to this series, check out the introduction for an overview and recommendations.

What Is a Learning Ecosystem?

A learning ecosystem is a collection of the tools, technologies, resources, and places where learning happens across your organization. And every organization has a learning ecosystem, whether by design or accident.

At one end of the spectrum, an ecosystem may be a carefully planned and integrated selection of handpicked platforms and tools delivering a seamless, best-in-class learning experience.

At the other end, it may be more of a haphazard collection of siloed systems—presenting a confusing myriad of options to learners (and administrators!), who struggle to remember their logins to every system, let alone remember where to find their learning.

Wherever your organization sits on this scale, you already have a learning ecosystem in place.

What Is Learning Ecosystem Analytics?

Whether your learning ecosystem is wild and overgrown or neat and well kept, ecosystem analytics means bringing together the learning data from all your platforms, apps, and tools into one place for reporting and analytics. As a result, you can:

  • Use a single platform for L&D reporting rather than accessing multiple tools for learning data.
  • Keep track of a learner’s activity across various platforms (e.g., for a learner transcript or compliance record).
  • Get reporting and analytics that combine or compare data from multiple systems (e.g. to support vendor management).

What Does Corporate Learning Ecosystem Analytics Look Like in Practice?

Visa University Digital Campus

When Visa launched the Visa University Digital Campus as part of a shift from a compliance-driven to learner-driven learning approach, data and analytics played a vital role in supporting and proving the value of that shift.

Visa was able to track the campus’ impact and utilization by combining data from a growing list of learning technologies in Watershed, which they used for reporting and analytics (plus export to Tableau). Six months after the launch, they were able to show that:

  • 80% of the organization had accessed the campus, and
  • 19% of those users had done so in streaks spanning multiple weeks.

We’ve presented this Visa case study at many conferences worldwide. It’s been inspirational to other organizations looking to move to a learner-driven ecosystem approach. Integrated technologies include: Degreed, Cornerstone, MindMarker, LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, O'Reilly, Harvard Mentor Manager, Content Server, SurveyMonkey, SharePointOps, Workday, getAbstract, Star360, Tableau, and Watershed.

Danone's Connected, Scalable Learning Ecosystem

Danone’s learning ecosystem had a wealth of learner activity, but no central view to understand learner activity or system usage across multiple platforms. Furthermore, the data across their ecosystem came in various formats.

By connecting their learning ecosystem and using Watershed to enable central data collection, cleansing, and reporting across their global network, Danone’s learning leaders have:

  • access to insightful, easy-to-use reports,
  • a scalable solution that allows their ecosystem to grow,
  • saved an estimated €120,000 in data collection time per year, and
  • been able to launch Danone’s Learning Engagement Index.

CHRISTUS Health Talent Development Ecosystem

CHRISTUS Health wanted to move from an LMS-centric approach to an ecosystem approach to:

  • Remove barriers to sharing content with associates to improve content utilization and impact.
  • Better meet the needs of learners and replace outdated technology.
  • Give leaders the reporting they need.

By bringing together all of their learning data from their new ecosystem into Watershed, CHRISTUS validated the benefits of the new approach. They saw 100% of associates complete the training in FY19 and a corresponding positive impact (exact figures are confidential) on the desired workplace behaviors in FY20.

Caterpillar’s Extended Enterprise Learning Ecosystem

Caterpillar’s learning ecosystem includes new systems, such as Kaltura and Inkling, integrated with existing systems like the LMS, which contains years of valuable historical learning data. Employees and members of their dealership network (i.e. their extended enterprise) access these platforms, resulting in data siloed in multiple individual platforms.

So Caterpillar brought everything together in Watershed to sort through the data and gain proper visibility of the learning that takes place across their ecosystem. Being able to analyze this properly analyze this data has enabled Caterpillar to:

Caterpillar’s learning ecosystem includes LogicBay, OpenSesame, Inkling, Questionmark, and Kaltura.

How Can Watershed Help Support Learning Ecosystem Analytics?

Watershed empowers you to bring your L&D data from all your learning technologies together in one place for reporting and analytics. That’s true whether the platform supports xAPI or not because Watershed can convert non-xAPI data. Then, with your data consolidated, Watershed equips you to configure flexible, customizable reports and dashboards that address your specific needs.

Having all your reports in one place is not just about convenience and saving time for your report users. You need the data in one system so you can report on learning programs that span platforms and track learners across the whole ecosystem. For example, you can:

  • Identify who has and has not completed their compliance training, which may include elements on multiple platforms.
  • Provide a single learner transcript to managers and the learner themselves, including learning activities from several systems.
  • Compare different modes of learning. For example, compare in-person versus virtual instructor-led training to ensure the quality and effectiveness of learning across both methods.
  • Explore the impact of how learners access training content. For instance, are learners more likely to watch an entire video via a personal recommendation from the LXP or search for it on the video platform themselves?

Making the Case: Why the Business Needs Learning Ecosystem Analytics

If you don’t have ecosystem analytics in place, then you probably have one or both of these issues:

  1. L&D reporting is complex and time consuming. You must log into individual systems to get data and then manually combine everything, potentially introducing errors. Moreover, you probably generate these reports on a monthly or quarterly basis, which means they’re not always up to date. But automating this process in Watershed can help you save time, avoid errors, and provide on-demand reporting.
  2. You’re not reporting on all your learning. You may be reporting on only some systems in your L&D tech stack or none at all. If this is you, you're missing critical insights into what works and what doesn't—so you can't enhance and improve the effectiveness of your efforts. And most important, you aren't able to prove the impact of learning on the business.

How Can I Convince Stakeholders of the Value?

If you’re planning to implement a new corporate learning ecosystem like Visa, CHRISTUS, or Caterpillar, be sure to include learning analytics as part of your business plan for that ecosystem. A single central place for reports isn’t just nice to have—it’s essential.

Trawling through different reports in various employee training systems is time consuming. And the inability to explore data side by side from multiple systems means you are missing out on key insights. Watershed combines your learner data with HRIS information, offering individual and collective views of learner performance that are simply not possible otherwise.

If you want to implement ecosystem analytics with existing systems in your L&D tech stack, tell stakeholders about the challenges of reporting on multiple systems and the time and effort involved in pulling data together manually.

Make the case for the value of data and the benefits of having complete data for all systems available in real-time. (The case studies described in this blog post may help your efforts.)

Understand your stakeholders and how they will benefit from ecosystem analytics.

Meet your key stakeholders.

StakeholdersPain PointsBenefits
C-Suite (CLO, CEO, CFO) & Human ResourcesOverall learning data is incomplete because it doesn’t include data from all systems.Ecosystem analytics brings together the data from all your learning systems. You can export this data as a single feed to a BI tool for C-suite reporting.
Learning LeadersCompiling complete learning data from multiple systems is time consuming. No holistic view of learner performance or program effectiveness.Get a complete view of learning across the ecosystem.
Instructional DesignersGetting a complete picture of a learning program that spans multiple systems is time consuming.Report on the whole program all in one place, even when the program spans many platforms.
ComplianceGetting comprehensive compliance training data from several systems is time consuming.View all the compliance data in one place using a single dashboard for reporting.
Line ManagersGetting all learning data for team members is time consuming because it is siloed across systems. Must only have access to direct line reports, so data is often not provided because it includes information about all learners.Get a one-stop shop for reporting on learning, wherever the learning happens.
LearnersGetting a comprehensive learning record is time consuming because the data exists in several systems. They’re not getting credit for learning in certain systems because the data is not integrated.Get a single learning record that includes data from every system where learning occurs.

Next Course: What Is Compliance Reporting and Why Does It Matter?

One of the benefits of bringing together all your L&D data is the ability to track compliance data across multiple systems.

For example, this data might include required training content that’s hosted in different platforms. Or it might be used for compliance reporting on required behaviors (e.g. handwashing in a medical context) alongside training intended to encourage those behaviors.

The next post in this series looks specifically at the business case for using Watershed for compliance reporting. We’ll also explain the value of aggregated data, configurable reports, and robust data permission functionality in meeting your compliance reporting requirements without significant manual effort.

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