A brand new feature has been launched by Microsoft that will be available to business customers of its widely-used Office 365 suite, and which is intended to help enterprises boost the overall productivity levels of those they have working for them.
This new feature is named Workplace Analytics and is set to be made accessible in the form of an app that can be added onto Office 365. The app will enable those who are using it to draw Office 365 calendar and email metadata out before going on to process this information – ending up with what the software firm is referring to as ‘behavioural metrics’ for each member of staff within an organisation.
Although it is not difficult to understand how data analysis of the type provided by Workplace Analytics could be of use to an enterprise when it comes to making changes that improve efficiency and productivity, it is also easy to see how some might have worries about what data would be collected by the app and whether the monitoring of employees involved in the process could prove to be invasive.
Among the information that it will collect and analyse are where, when and by whom emails are being sent, and how employees are using their working hours, such as how frequently they are in attendance at meetings. Workplace Analytics is designed to take this raw data and produce the analysis that can show how productivity can be increased. To allay the fears of those troubled by it, Microsoft is pointing out that compliance and privacy functions have been built into the app. The firm also argues that the metadata collected by it is ‘de-identified’ and aggregated.
Workplace Analytics will definitely offer performance level metrics for each person though, with an example being the potential for Fortune 500 companies to have their sales departments deploy it for finding out what their most productive employees’ patterns of collaboration are – e.g. whether time spent talking to customers is a key factor in their success. The organisation can then have the other sales staff follow the same patterns.
While some industry observers – including TechCrunch – have argued that firms could also deploy the app to find out which members of their staff are the least productive and possibly put pressure on them, Microsoft has stated that during the private beta testing of it, none of the firms involved opted to use Workplace Analytics in this way. The software company’s chief people officer, Kathleen Hogan, told Tech Radar:
“Our HR Business Insights group is using Workplace Analytics across a variety of initiatives – from understanding the behaviours driving increased employee engagement, to identifying the qualities of top-performing managers who are leading Microsoft’s cultural transformation from within. We believe people analytics is a competitive necessity for any HR team.”
We will be interested to see how this new app assists businesses in enhancing their productivity. Why not call WM Reply right away to see how our SharePoint tools will help with this?