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Knowledge management pt2: Can Big Learning Data bridge the gap?

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1st Jul 2013
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The companies that will succeed in future are the ones that understand big data. But how will it impact on knowledge management and innovation? Janet Garcia concludes her feature.

This growing capability of firms to derive meaning from data means that knowledge management systems can provide the platform for which knowledge-based companies can improve their most valuable asset. With an enriched understanding of how, when and where employees share/develop insight, firms can better invest in areas of high priority.

As a case in point, imagine you’re a pharmaceutical sales representative who has just landed a meeting with a potential client. Having gotten off the call, you schedule a meeting with John Smith, medical director at a major hospital downtown on Friday afternoon.

On Wednesday morning, a recent Wall Street Journal article on key trends affecting hospital spend is pushed to your desktop. As you board the train home after work, a media-rich training course on detailing the company’s new oncology drug indication is pushed to your smartphone, along with a course on detailing for different patient profiles. 

Now let’s look at this example again but with improved big data capabilities. Big data has revealed that 80% of company sales are not closed on a Friday afternoon but rather lead to follow-up meetings. With this knowledge, you schedule the meeting for Friday morning. Instead of Wednesday morning, you receive the Wall Street Journal article on Wednesday evening as you’re 75% more likely to read resources on your commute home. It’s also delivered to your iPad as your assessment results show you tend to absorb things better through a tablet rather than a smartphone.

On Thursday evening, you are pushed your drug indication course but this time in a quick and accessible slideshow format for product detail training. Data has shown that the type of medium makes no difference in the learning outcome for short, just-in-time product detail training. In the case of detailing for different patient profiles, however, you receive a webinar and case study because it helps you to understand the subtleties of detailing to doctors with different patient profile groups better than a video has in the past.

"For knowledge-based industries in particular, knowledge management systems should form a crucial part of big data investment."

The decision to invest more in the patient profile detailing course was made by management using big learning data to determine the effectiveness of its courses on staff, investing more in high priority areas where staff had trouble understanding material. As a result, it managed to increase understanding and sales by ensuring that reps tailored the detail message as per the patient profile of the client doctor.

While this may seem like a long way off, big learning data is already making an impact in the academic learning space. In 2012, a research report made possible by big learning data revealed that new students are more likely to drop out of online colleges if they take full course loads than if they enroll part time -  challenging long held assumptions about college drop outs.

Returning to 2013 and the corporate world, forward-thinking business leaders have already begun building their organisations’ big data capabilities [1]. In retail industries, for example, 29% of companies have already invested in technology specifically designed to address the big data opportunity, with only 30% not planning to invest in the next two years.

McKinsey expect that the impact of developing a ‘superior capacity to take advantage of big data will confer enhanced competitive advantage over the long term with the converse being also true i.e. in a big data world, a business that fails to sufficiently develop its capabilities will be left behind’.

For knowledge-based industries in particular, knowledge management systems should form a crucial part of big data investment. Again the development of a firm’s ability to process and apply new knowledge is believed to be path-dependent and a lack of investment early on may stunt the future development of capability in that area.

As knowledge management strategies continue to be key priorities for knowledge-based industries, knowledge management systems will form an integral component going forward. Knowledge management systems have the ability to process the type of knowledge now that big data analytics can transform and exploit. This will serve to provide meaningful, investment-grade learning analytics with the power to revolutionise how we see corporate learning forever.

At Intuition, our ability to recognise and absorb these trends to inform product development has allowed us to consistently operate at the technological frontier. Our proprietary knowledge management platform Advantage is the only system to shape how companies manage their knowledge capital by curating informal knowledge sharing and managing formal learning in one centralised location, thereby unlocking the full potential of organisational knowledge.

Janet Garcia is responsible for overall business leadership for the U.K. Her key focus is to deliver top- and bottom-line results from her teams based in London. Janet joined Intuition in 2013 following 5 years at fellow Irish company MindLeaders ThirdForce where she was the Director for EMEA. Intuition was established in 1985, supplying computer-based training to the financial markets. Since then the company has grown to become a leading provider of technology-enabled learning to a broad range of markets including financial markets, life science & pharma and public sector & health. Their learning technologies solutions provide products and services that enable clients to author, manage and deploy a range of learning activities.

[1] 2011 McKinsey Global Institute, The next frontier for innovation, competition and productivity

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