Last summer, I started receiving emails from Microsoft. I was taken aback by what I saw. It was a snapshot of my activity with Office 365, which told me who my “top collaborator” was, how much time I spent multitasking in meetings, how much “focus time” I had and the amount of time I spent working “after hours.” After I got over how little focus time I had during the week, I realized how powerful this information could be for me and my team. Microsoft is categorizing it, organizing it and providing me with insights into my work patterns and how I can be more productive.
A new category in information technology is emerging. Microsoft, one of the world’s largest software companies, is continuing its unique legacy of bringing new and innovative solutions to the corporate market. And this is just another example of that. I like to refer to this new category as employee productivity analytics. Through a simple dashboard, Microsoft is providing unprecedented insights into employee time management, workplace collaboration and user productivity with two relatively new tools — MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics.
As anyone who’s in the tech industry knows, new categories can emerge overnight. Microsoft not only holds a leading position in many business solutions, but the company has tremendous influence, as Office 365, which includes these tools, now has 120 million active users. That’s right — Microsoft established this new information category, and it’s available for 120 million people and growing. The only question now is, why hasn’t this information been available within the corporate environment before?
What’s fascinating here is that in the age of the internet of things (IoT), where it’s expected for businesses to be tracking the location and performance of millions of devices as a standard practice, we haven’t had much insight into how employees are interacting with key business applications — until now.
In a world where e-commerce sites track each visitor to establish patterns of behavior indicative of purchase intentions, most companies have no insight into whether their employees are struggling with software applications to create an invoice, ship a product or check inventory.
Microsoft’s MyAnalytics provides me with the opportunity for introspection and analysis of how I allocate my time throughout the day. If I extrapolate these individual metrics at the organizational level, the potential impact on business efficiency is tremendous. And that’s exactly what Microsoft’s broader solution, Workplace Analytics, does. Through that, I can now look across my various teams and departments to understand collaboration patterns and identify best practices. The end result is greater productivity, more effective collaboration and increased employee engagement.
In our data-driven world, analytics provide the foundation for business decisions that drive organizational change. Improving employee productivity and efficiency must rely, by definition, on the availability of employee analytics.
Consider the impact of a changing workforce (cue: millennials) on corporate culture and practices. HR managers are looking for innovative ways to attract, motivate and retain talent. How can you accomplish that without having insight into how employees are spending their time, resolving inefficiencies and improving collaboration?
Employees can use employee productivity analysis to identify and avoid inefficiency, identify at-risk employees and make necessary corrections, as well as simplify processes, workflow and collaboration. Additionally, employees who are mired in inefficiency likely suffer from low job productivity. In fact, a Gallup study suggested that high employee engagement can lead to a 17% boost in productivity and 21% gain in profitability.
While Microsoft Workplace Analytics is truly impressive and visionary, it provides insight into a fraction of the enterprise software systems that drive today’s worldwide economy. The operations of today’s organizations are being run by SAP (Knoa provides user analytics for SAP), IBM, Oracle, Infor and Workday, among others. One can only imagine the full benefits in productivity that we can gain through a thorough understanding of process bottlenecks, workflow inefficiencies and application usability issues — all of which are aspects of user-software interactions that are a black box today without employee analytics.