Watershed's Direction: 2019 and Beyond

    

During our recent 2019 Watershed Insights Summit, we experienced an incredible opportunity to provide a platform for our clients to exchange ideas, both with us and with each other. As part of that opportunity, we achieved even more visibility into our clients’ worlds while also refining the vision that we share with them and the learning industry at large.

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The two days of knowledge-sharing and collaboration was just as much a learning experience for Watershed as it was for attendees—specifically in how we can enhance the platform to support our clients' visions.

The innovative clients who started with us years ago are showing us and the industry what’s possible in the adoption of a learning analytics practice. As a result, a much wider audience is starting to experience a shift from passive interest to active participation in learning measurement and analytics.

In turn, this is driving a process of refinement, maturity, and scale in the tools and techniques involved. And as a leading provider in the learning analytics space, Watershed is absolutely involved in this process alongside our clients.

Maturity and Scale

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There are several key areas of growth that are driving our work on product maturity and scale:

  • our rapidly increasing number of clients
  • the amount of data they’re collecting
  • the scope of projects they’re implementing with Watershed
  • the variety and size of the audience being exposed to the results from Watershed

These factors are leading us to enhance our focus on our client onboarding process, technology infrastructure, depth of existing product features, and the extension of our sharing and automation capabilities, respectively.

Additionally, the growing number of learning analytics initiatives we’re undertaking with our clients has given us the opportunity to refine how we scope and guide the process of collecting and analyzing data within learning programs.

Scaling for Impact

Meanwhile, the depth of data collected by existing clients continues to grow. And this is driving our efforts to scale our technology infrastructure to support data analysis that is wide reaching in terms of data sources, amount of data, breadth of visibility, and, ultimately, organizational impact.

We’re continuing to implement new techniques for large datasets—such as estimation and segmented analysis—while growing system resources and leveraging those resources to their maximum efficiency. Similarly, we’re continuing to grow our list of certified data sources along with the techniques used to ingest data from a wide set of non-certified data sources. And this has led to a wider variety of data in each account and higher demands in terms of integrating that data into standardized visualizations.

Robust, Flexible Reporting

With several years of product usage to observe, we’re undertaking efforts to optimize the most common use cases among our clients while maintaining the flexibility to serve more nuanced or creative use cases.

While we’re continuing our focus on core reporting mechanics, we’re also increasing our attention on ways to publish analytics results from Watershed. This emphasis is leading to the extension of our report sharing capabilities in three areas:

  1. sharing results with people who don’t have Watershed accounts
  2. embedding reports within other applications
  3. sending report data and notifications to other systems using a flexible automation feature we’re calling Workflows

We’re eager to share updates about these new capabilities as they become available this year.

Services and Strategy

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Driven by the growing depth and scope of the analytics practices our clients are adopting, we’ve also expanded our attention beyond the product and have been engaging more clients as strategic advisors and partners.

Learning analytics doesn’t stop once the tools are in place to collect and analyze data—in fact, it only starts here. Ultimately, analytics is storytelling that:

  • builds engaged audiences of stakeholders and users,
  • influences and manages changes in behavior in the organization, and
  • presents the impact of learning and training initiatives over time.

But, the aspect of developing a narrative from learning data is a large undertaking that requires resources and skill. And our clients have increasingly asked for our guidance in identifying and sharing compelling data stories.

We’re in This Together

In response, we’ve put a renewed effort into our services offerings. Options range from advanced report building within Watershed all the way to learning analytics strategy consulting that covers topics tailored to our clients’ specific business environments.

We recognize that our product is not “a set it and forget” solution, but rather a platform on which to monitor and iterate ongoing initiatives and projects within learning. In that spirit, we see ourselves as much more than a product vendor—we’re also a long-term strategic partner providing technology and technique for growing a thriving learning analytics practice with our clients.

The Time for Change

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The 2019 Watershed Insights Summit was a great culmination and affirmation of the ideas we’ve been exploring with clients and prospects alike. It’s an incredibly fun time to be in the space we’re in right now. We’re just beginning to see the world outside of L&D really take notice of learning analytics, which is creating fuel for the fire we’ve been kindling in this community of innovators.

It’s a time of change and growth within L&D as organizations increasingly realize that the key to success comes down to what their people know, and what they do with that knowledge.

We Can’t Wait to See What’s Next

As our clients (and the industry as a whole) continue to capture executive attention surrounding measuring learning’s impact on the business, we’re excited to see how it will drive broader investments in learning initiatives and tools. We also hope to enable a new level of people development with positive outcomes for individuals, communities, and organizations.

So let’s stay in touch and keep this conversation going. And of course, we invite you to join us at the next Watershed Insights Summit in 2020!

David Ells

About The Author

David Ells has played key roles in the development of SCORM Cloud, the xAPI spec, and more. As our CEO, he leads our team and loves turning ideas into reality.