Employees and their managers want to know if training measurably improves performance. CEOs and senior leaders are asking, “Where’s the evidence for learning and development’s impact on business results?” CFOs are asking, “What’s the return on investment for the dollars we spend on employee development?” There’s a rise in demand for L&D talent who can answer these questions with evidence and proof.

Data Analysts: A New Breed of L&D Talent

A new breed of L&D talent is using data and analytics to answer questions about learning’s impact on business results and employee performance. L&D data analysts use analytics to inform decisions about learning strategy and data for learning solutions design, deployment and investment. And while the titles may be different from company to company, the focus on learning and development analytics is the same:

  • “Ability to negotiate data sourcing agreements with stakeholder partners” – Learning & Development Analyst
  • “Uses data analytics to offer Leadership/Strategy Committee insights from across the Learning and Development portfolio” – Learning & Development Measurement & Analytics Data Scientist
  • “Leverage the workforce analytics knowledge base to promote an evidence-based approach to all things Learning” – Associate Director, Learning Analytics

“Research,” “analysis” and “measurement” describe the focus. “Data collection” and “visualization” describe the skills. Experience with SPSS, SAS, Tableau, xAPI and learning record stores (LRS) qualify the specialized expertise. These are capabilities that just a few short years ago, you would not have seen on an L&D team.

The combination of learning, development and analytics talent is unique and creates an opportunity for established L&D professionals to reinvent themselves. With the rise in demand for talent with strong L&D backgrounds and expertise in analytics techniques and technology, there’s a brand new function in learning and development. The future for L&D analysts is bright!

What’s Driving the Rise in Demand for L&D Analysts?

Learning analytics expert Mike Rustici with Watershed suggests the rise in demand for L&D data analysts comes from increased accountability and transfer of best practices. “Just about every group, department and function across the enterprise is held accountable for using data to demonstrate results. You’re seeing an increased desire from senior leadership for that level of accountability throughout the organization. You’re seeing people coming into L&D leadership roles from other parts of the organization. They’re bringing their expertise and best-practices with them including the infusion of data and analytics.”

Christopher Yates, head of learning and development at Microsoft, sees L&D data analysts as a critical part of the digital transformation. “It’s essential. I can’t imagine having an L&D team today that is not supported by dedicated data analysts. Without L&D analytics, you’re basing your decisions on luck or the way we’ve always done things. Without insight, all you have is a guess, a hunch or a feeling in your stomach about what’s working or not working.”

L&D Data Analysts Are Here to Stay

There’s technique, technology and, now, talent for L&D analytics. The dynamics of complex learning ecosystems require data-driven design for learning solutions and analytics for insights on L&D performance. We don’t have to cross our fingers and hope learning and development fulfills its purpose. We have the data and the L&D analysts to prove it.

L&D data analysts are changing the way learning and development leaders build their teams. As L&D is increasingly held accountable for evidence that shows impact, so will the rise in demand for talent who can use data and analytics as proof for results. Yes…there’s a data analyst on the L&D team, and they’re here to stay!