“Big data” is the latest buzzword among corporate leaders, who are trying to understand and explore how to use big data for the benefit of their organizations. Big data is a term that refers to the large volume of data—both structured and unstructured—available within or outside the organization. Organizations across industries are trying to gather and analyze this mass of data to understand business patterns and consumer behaviors and insights, and even to create their future business strategies. A study by IDG in 2015 stated that 80 percent of enterprises and 63 percent of small businesses either had already deployed or were about to deploy big-data initiatives.

While organizations are applying big-data analytics to multiple areas of company operations, adding big-data analytics to learning and development (L&D) is also a rising phenomenon. If applied properly, big data can take the traditional learning and development methods and strategies to a new level.

Here are some ways that big data can add tremendous value to corporate learning and development programs.

Discover new types of learning material

Big data not only refers to the volume of data present but also describes the new types of data available and their unlimited sources. Learning resources are no longer restricted to organization boardrooms, content development agencies, training instructors, and educational programs; they are being generated on social media platforms, in online forums and communities, and in the cloud. Big data is also available in the form of webinars, blogs, videos, podcasts, etc. Organizations can use big-data analytics to sort and gather these learning resources according to their training needs. The resources available are rich and creative in content. However, big data’s scattered presence makes it difficult for organizations to use it in the right way. Big-data analytics can source new learning types and help identify the right learning materials to suit your training requirements.

Learn the effectiveness of your training program

Big-data analytics can present hidden facts on learner activity, interaction, and learning patterns, and it can ultimately help you understand how the learners are digesting the information. Organizations can also find out which learning material or training course is appealing to the most learners. For example, you might identify that a certain portion or module of a training program, consisting of a long video, is impacting the effectiveness of the overall training course as learners are either skipping it or viewing it in fast-forward mode. One can discover the exact reasons behind a particular training program’s scoring low among learners; such findings will be very useful.

Create targeted and personalized training programs

Insight into training effectiveness, learner preferences, and usage patterns enables you to create personalized and adaptive learning strategies and to create programs best suited for your learners. You can track an individual or a learner group through the entire learning process and create the subsequent training programs in a personalized and targeted way. For example, if everyone is scoring five out of five on an objective set of questions that provides hints and tips alongside the questions, it would be a good idea to create similar content.

Predict future training needs

Organizations can predict the upcoming trends of learning and development by using big-data insights. For example, if the insights indicate that busy professionals or managers are doing better with on-the-go learning, new learning strategies can focus on more flexible options. The return on investment (ROI) for your training programs can also be predicted to a better extent. In fact, educational institutions and colleges are using predictive analytics to predict the success rate of their new students. It is helping them to identify high-potential students before they even onboard them.

While big data will take a while to fully integrate into human resources practices, combining big-data insights with learning will surely transform current learning and development efforts. Big data will have an immediate impact on the power of prediction, improved decision-making, and proactive workforce development.