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Insights

Use xAPI to Correlate Training to Tangible Business Impact

SM
Thursday, January 3, 2019
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Does your sales team know your product inside out?
Can they upsell while anticipating the customer’s needs?
Is your delivery team up to date with the latest developments in technologies they work with?

All this and more are functions of how your organization learns.

Enterprise learning is a crucial, but often overlooked, element of a firm’s revenue growth. While your focus may be on sales and marketing to bring new business and greater revenue, how effectively your employees learn is critical to creating, selling, and delivering your products and services to your customers.

Despite its significance, current learning in most enterprises is limited to one-size-fits-all training courses, whether online or offline. If someone doesn’t seem to have learned what they were trained for, they are slotted into more training sessions—and it just continues.

While that might have worked at one time, it’s simply ineffective for a largely Millennial workforce. More importantly, there’s no real way to track how this training impacts revenue or any other tangible business outcome.

Enter xAPI

Finding the return on investment (ROI) of learning and development programs in an enterprise can be quite challenging. Conducting massive surveys to get data, getting numbers that are only ticking the checkboxes in ensuring learning hygiene, or analytics from the (possibly dated) learning management systems (LMS)—these are some of the ways in which attempts are made to connect learning to enterprise ROI.

However, now that the enterprise is sitting on piles of data, can that not be used to decipher training and learning gaps? Can that data be tied to business KPIs (key performance indicators), such as revenue, profit margins, and security compliance?

Yes it can, by using Experience API or xAPI.

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Simply put, xAPI is a standard that defines how you can interface any application with a system that stores learning data. Any activity that can be observed or recorded can be mapped into your LMS through xAPI. So potentially anything that an enterprise has deployed by way of IT setup can be used to extract data that can be used as inputs for further learning needed. This can be the enterprise resource planning (ERP), collaboration platforms, help desk systems, performance management systems, and so on.

For example: Let’s say you have a training video on selling product A, and your employee Bob has gone through the video. Now, xAPI can help you monitor a set of Bob’s activities to determine how much he managed to learn and implement from the video. This can include:

  • How much of the video did Bob watch?
  • On the post video questionnaire, which questions did Bob answer correctly?
  • How did Bob answer a customer’s questions on product A?
  • How many units of product A does he sell, post watching the video?
  • How often did Bob consult the online guide for product A to answer a customer’s question?

All of this data is helpful in understanding how much Bob has learned from the video. And not just the generic “Bob has learned about product A because he clicked on the video and scored above 75 percent on the subsequent test”. The understanding you gain via xAPI is at a much more granular level, which tells you exactly how much Bob knows about product A and which aspect of the product he has yet to master.

This level of information is great for several reasons:

Share personalized microlearning modules. Now you know exactly what Bob knows and what he doesn’t about product A. So, rather than simply making him repeat the whole video on product A or pushing him to the next level, you can take a more personalized next step. You can give him a microlearning module, focused on only that aspect of product A with which he is weak.

You don’t have to force-fit everyone into the same training module. Someone with some prior experience in the job can take an assessment test and, if they clear that, be put on the job right away. The data being captured on their work can be reviewed to see what areas they need to work on so they can deliver the business impact the enterprise is aiming for.

Link learning to ROI. Because you can track exactly how much of product A Bob sells after the course, you can directly link the efficacy of the course to exact revenue numbers. Now imagine being able to do this across each course, for each employee and all products sold or services rendered, and you have the total revenue brought in by your enterprise learning system.

Enterprises today need to modernize their training systems to move beyond the standard LMS and incorporate xAPI and other emerging technologies. Integrations with chat bots and VR can also translate to effective training platforms for a Millennial workforce, thus creating a highly integrated digital learning ecosystem for the enterprise. All of this will help enterprises see the larger picture of how learning plugs into their business outcomes.

SM
About the Author

Shashank Merothiya is a UX generalist and a business analyst at Srijan, with more than 10 years of experience in guiding product owners toward better designed yet practical applications. Shashank is currently obsessed with xAPI and the myriad ways it can drive effective learning for enterprise teams, working closely with global enterprises to create cutting-edge digital learning ecosystems. Connect on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/meetshashank or via Twitter at https://twitter.com/shashtra.

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