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Can Microsoft Workplace Analytics Transform your Workplace?

Can Microsoft Workplace Analytics Transform your Workplace

A rapidly growing pool of productivity data is aggregated by Microsoft thanks to the broad adoption of cloud productivity suites. Indeed, Office 365 is leading the field with triple the market share of its closest competitor, G Suite.

Office 365 and the Azure cloud platform is therefore a rich source of information detailing how employees conduct their daily work routine, and this has led Microsoft to launch Workplace Analytics. But who gets access to Workplace Analytics, and can it provide real insights for your business?

What is Microsoft Workplace Analytics?

Microsoft Workplace Analytics

Workplace Analytics taps into the productivity data generated by the activities your colleagues perform every day – including sending emails, attending meetings, and project planning. This data is effortlessly aggregated, as most of the required records are collected just by using Office 365 on a daily basis.

Using this wealth of information, Workplace Analytics can detect working patterns and determine, for example, how much time employees spend in meetings. By understanding how work is done, in theory at least, Workplace Analytics can help organisations improve their productivity and assist them to work more creatively and efficiently.

Where does Microsoft MyAnalytics fit in?

Microsoft MyAnalytics

Essentially, MyAnalytics is a junior cousin to Workplace Analytics. Available to all Office 365 Business and Enterprise users, MyAnalytics gives individuals access to data that describes how they perform work every day. It is, as Microsoft says, a bit like a personal fitness tracker for workers.

In 2019, Microsoft added insights from the use of Teams and OneDrive. Users can access these insights via a dashboard in Outlook, but are unable to get insights that cover the working patterns of their colleagues – that’s limited to Workplace Analytics.

Getting access to Workplace Analytics

Worlkplace Meeting

It’s worth noting that Microsoft Workplace Analytics is not just another Office 365 app that’s bundled with an O365 licence. Instead, Workplace Analytics must be added to an Enterprise subscription, by special request to Microsoft support. Microsoft appears to have geared Workplace Analytics towards large Office 365 tenancies – think 5,000 users or more.

What’s more, most companies will need to employ a consultant to help them tap into Workplace Analytics data: unlike the handy MyAnalytics dashboard, Workplace Analytics is not accessible right off the bat. Companies may also want to do some preparatory work from an HR and data protection viewpoint, to ensure they do not infringe on the rights of employees.

So, in short, Workplace Analytics does not currently appear to be aimed at small to medium-sized businesses. That doesn’t mean small businesses are left out altogether, employees can still use MyAnalytics. At the moment, however, there is no way for managers to view MyAnalytics data in aggregate.

What Workplace Analytics can do for large companies

Workplace Analytics for Companies

Even if your company is not currently in Microsoft’s sights in terms of Workplace Analytics, it is still worth seeing what big businesses can expect from Workplace Analytics. We know that Office 365 features often trickle down, and a version of Workplace Analytics may well become more broadly available – or indeed free to use – for Office 365 customers.

Companies which add Workplace Analytics to their Office 365 tenancy can look forward to a range of insights, including:

  • Collaboration patterns. By analysing Workplace Analytics data companies can better understand how their employees collaborate and gain insights into the relative success of different ways of collaborating.
  • Employee engagement. Workplace Analytics can indicate to managers how engaged employees are and suggest where employees are perhaps too engaged. In other words, highlight where employees are overloaded with work.
  • Understand productivity. Microsoft allows managers to see how much time employees are spending on activities that are potentially unproductive. For example, do creative workers spend the majority of their time in meetings and too little time on creative thinking?

In all likelihood, many of the game-changing uses for Workplace Analytics will emerge over time. As is often the case, it is the novel, creative uses of analytical data that have a real impact, and over time the building blocks provided by Workplace Analytics could lead to revolutionary insights into the ways big companies are working.

For the moment, Workplace Analytics is a first step that is worth keeping an eye on. Nonetheless, individual users can benefit from the statistics and alerts generated by MyAnalytics. Microsoft support leaders should encourage their users to take a look at these useful insights – after all, these are easily accessible via Outlook.

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