How to Create a Business Case for Extended Enterprise Learning Analytics

Many organizations’ success depends not only on employees, but also those outside the organization—such as partners, distributors, and customers—known as an extended enterprise.

So it’s not surprising that extended enterprise training is critical for influencing and supporting those who help contribute to the organization’s success.

But training people outside the organization comes with challenges, as some people may have different requirements for hosting and providing access to learning content.

And with learners potentially using hundreds of platforms outside of your control, you’re also faced with complexities for tracking, reporting, and measuring training impact.

As part of our Building a Business Case for Learning Analytics series, this post outlines the case for collecting, normalizing, and analyzing learning data from your extended enterprise.

If you’re new to this series, we encourage you to read the introduction, which provides an overview and instructions for making the most of this series.

We’ll outline how Watershed can help you:

  • overcome the data challenges of working with multiple systems and organizations, and
  • present relevant, insightful, easy-to-use reporting dashboards to all your stakeholders, regardless of their analytics maturity and capability.

What is extended enterprise learning and development?

Many organizations create learning content for themselves and their extended enterprise (i.e. their partners and customers).

There are many reasons for doing this, but a common scenario is a supplier training salespeople working in dealerships and stores that sell their products.

The aim is that if salespeople understand and can explain and recommend the suppliers’ products, they will be more effective at selling.

Hint: If your organization is not involved with training an extended enterprise, then this post might not be for you! Did you catch the previous post outlining the business case for skill analytics?

If that’s your organization, your learning ecosystem might reach beyond your immediate organization’s learning tools and platforms.

For example, your learning content may sit on platforms owned by partners or customers, while partners or customers might access your platforms. Essentially, your extended enterprise's learning platforms and content form an extended learning ecosystem!

Extended enterprise learning can add complexity to your ecosystem in several ways:

  • First, learners outside your organization may need to access your systems, requiring identifiers and login credentials.
  • Learners may access your training via their own systems.
  • Finally, you may be required to migrate learners onto a new system to incorporate them into your learning ecosystem.

In each of these scenarios, visibility of learner activity is both vital and challenging. It’s vital because you need to know learners are engaging with the content and understand how they perform to ensure that the training is working.

It’s challenging because you may not have direct control over the systems that hold the data. The solution is to bring all the data into one system for reporting, enabling you to have comprehensive visibility of your learners regardless of how and where they are completing the training.

What are real examples of extended enterprise learning analytics?

1) Financial Services: Credit Union Executives Society

Credit Union Executives Society (CUES), an international membership association of credit union leaders, used Watershed to track learning activity of employees accessing their L&D content—something they hadn’t been able to track previously.

And, in turn, CUES used this data to improve and promote their training content. They also created and shared reports and dashboards so managers at various locations could track their own employees’ content use.

2) Manufacturing: Caterpillar

Another example is Caterpillar (CAT)—a Fortune 100 corporation that designs, develops, manufactures, and sells machinery, engines, financial products, and insurance via 172 dealers worldwide. Their dealership network is a vast extended enterprise utilizing various tools and systems in their learning ecosystem.

CAT uses Watershed to collect data about the learning activities across its global dealership network, bringing together data from a long list of systems and platforms. The Global Dealer Learning team uses these reports to monitor the uptake of learning, manage licenses, and identify anomalies for further investigation.

3) Retail: The Behr Paint Company

The Behr Paint Company’s sales training and development (T&D) team provides product training to various customers—including the thousands of Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Target paint associates and the Behr sales reps who train these associates.

Reps use an iPad app to deliver training video content, and the T&D team captures that app data in Watershed to track what reps are searching and accessing. Consequently, the team can identify and improve gaps in their training content.

How does Watershed support extended enterprise learning analytics?

Whether you’re rolling out or scaling up your extended enterprise learning model, vendors and other data providers must support your data model and business strategy.

Not only does Watershed offer a central spot for all your L&D data, but we also help align your technology requirements and learning ecosystem vision with more significant business drivers.

And with all the data in one place, you get a bird’s eye view of learning activity across all your systems and platforms. Use Watershed’s configurable reports and dashboards to slice and dice the data for the insights you need.

You can also set up dashboards for stakeholders from your extended enterprise, giving them a permission-restricted view, so they only see data about their own people.

This example dashboard shows permission-restricted data so the manager can only see data about their own people.

Making the Case: Why extended enterprise L&D analytics is key to the business

Integrating Watershed into your extended learning ecosystem gives you on-tap real-time visibility into the learning activities of your extended enterprise, where previously you may not have had any visibility at all.

This data is essential for checking and analyzing content usage, which informs your decisions on prioritizing content to replace, improve, add and remove. Without that data, you're just guessing.

Watershed's flexibility and user-friendly interface make it ideal for reporting dashboards to extended enterprise organizations. You'll likely have a wide variety of analytics maturity and competency amongst your extended enterprise.

Watershed provides simple preconfigured dashboards to those earlier in their analytics journey while at the same time empowering those who have more maturity to configure dashboards to meet their specific requirements without taking up your own time to set it up for them.

How can you convince stakeholders of the value?

There are two sets of stakeholders you might need to convince about Watershed’s value:

  1. Your partners in your extended enterprise will appreciate Watershed reporting on their people’s activity in your systems. These partners will gain insight into learners’ progress through your learning.

    So ask your extended enterprise stakeholders about their reporting requirements and the questions they want to answer about training. And then, perhaps with a little help from our sales team, paint a picture of how Watershed can fulfill those requirements.
  2. Internal stakeholders gain value from reporting on the extended learning ecosystem. This information enables stakeholders to measure the impact of extended learning projects and gives valuable insights to improve the quality of the training provided.

    You've already made the business case for providing training to the extended enterprise (or else you wouldn't be doing it). If it's worth training your extended enterprise, it's also worth ensuring that training is effective.

Understand your stakeholders and how they benefit from extended enterprise learning analytics.

Use this guide as an example to ensure you’ve included applicable information that will speak to each of your potential key stakeholders.

Meet Your Stakeholders

StakeholderPain PointsBenefits
C-Suite (CLO, CEO, CFO) Lack of visibility of utilization and impact of learning content within the extended enterprise, so unable to understand the investment value.Visibility of utilization and impact across the extended enterprise to evaluate and optimize investments in learning.
Human ResourcesLack of visibility into the learning activity of extended enterprise workers.Visibility into the learning and competency of extended enterprise workers.
Learning LeadersLimited understanding of the training needs and competency gaps of the extended enterprise. Better understanding of the needs and competency of the extended enterprise to inform new extended enterprise learning programs.
Instructional DesignersLimited feedback on content developed for the extended enterprise.Insight into how extended enterprise learners interact with content and its effectiveness.
ComplianceLimited access to compliance data for extended enterprise workers.A more complete view into the relevant compliance training and assessments for extended enterprise learners.
Line ManagersIncomplete picture of learning completed across multiple systems owned by different organizations. A more complete view of their people’s learning across all learning platforms.
LearnersFragmented learning records are siloed in separate systems owned by their immediate employer and the larger enterprise.A single learning record in one place, containing all their learning data.

Next Course: Let's talk learning content analytics

So far in this series, we’ve looked at different business cases for using Watershed to analyze the activity of your people to help them improve.

Examples of learner analytics include:

  • transcripts,
  • digital credential analytics,
  • cheating detection,
  • skills analytics, and
  • extended enterprise analytics.

Watershed can also facilitate learning content analytics, exploring data about learning content usage to improve that content and your overall learning offering.

Over the next six posts, we'll examine six business cases for learning content analytics, starting with a use case for learning content analytics in general.

Want to build a business case for learning analytics?

For most organizations, a learning analytics platform is a new system—so you need a business case to show why it’s a key investment. Use this free selection tool to find the best way to get started building a learning analytics program in your organization.

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