How Analytics Can Improve Workplace Collaboration

By: Phil Simon| - Leave a comment

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Introduction

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a numbers guy. Credit my early years playing sports and collecting baseball cards or perhaps my father’s facility with math. I wouldn’t have survived at Carnegie Mellon if I were quantitatively challenged (even the poets there know math, but I digress.) Regardless, I’ve always abided by W. Edwards Deming’s credo, “In God we trust; all others bring data.”

It should be no surprise, then, that my expectations for collaboration and productivity tools go beyond “getting the job done.” That is, I don’t just want to filter my inbox to see the number of messages to which I’ve replied. As I’ve said many times before, e-mail begets more e-mail. More e-mail doesn’t necessarily make you more productive. In fact, I’d argue the opposite.

Fortunately, the new breed of productivity apps provides insights that their 90s counterparts simply cannot. Consider Todoist for a moment. At the end of the year, the tool automatically generated a personalized annual productivity report. Here are a few screenshots from mine:

post-2-within1 post-2-within2

It turns out that many companies are developing features around what Becky Lawlor calls data-driven productivity. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to understand that analytics can make individuals, teams, and even entire organizations far more efficient.

Let me count the ways…

I start to get dizzy when I think about applying analytics to employee and personal productivity. Consider the ability to:

  • Visualize who interacts with whom along with when, where, and why.
  • Determine nodes and bottlenecks different processes.
  • Identify key employees not by job title, but by what they actually do in an organization. Imagine being able to retain truly key employees based on data, not on hunches or “potential.”
  • Quickly see which employees respond quickest to issues. (This would obviate the need of the antiquated, impersonal e-mail blast.)
  • Eliminate once and for all similar e-mail blasts asking everyone on a project to update a spreadsheet or other document.
  • Obtain real-time status updates. Managers and project managers would benefit from dashboards and real-time alerts when deadlines pass and measures reach certain thresholds.

I could go on but you probably get my drift.

Simon Says: The possibilities are endless.

More than ever, organizations are distinguishing themselves from their cohorts by virtue of their data—a trend that I expect to intensify for the foreseeable future. And that data won’t just be limited to users and customers. New productivity tools offer organizations an unprecedented glimpse into what their employees are doing and how.

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About The Author

Phil Simon

Professor at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business

Phil Simon is a frequent keynote speaker and recognized technology authority. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. He consults organizations on matters related to communications, strategy, data, and technology. His contributions have been featured on The Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, Fox News, and many other sites. He also teaches system design, analytics, and business intelligence at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business.

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