How analytics can improve workplace productivity

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How analytics can improve workplace productivity
Organisations are embracing workplace analytics as a means of objectively monitoring and improving the use of time.

dubai - Team leaders can eliminate time wastage, leading to happier, more productive employees

By Tamer Elhamy

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Published: Wed 22 Nov 2017, 3:26 PM

Last updated: Wed 22 Nov 2017, 5:29 PM

When you think of competition, what springs to mind? In years gone by, we could afford to think of a town square, where consumers were relatively uninformed and would dance to the tune of a good salesman. Market rivals were, for the most part, playing it safe, doing broadly the same thing and offering uniform service levels.

Not so in the digital age. The gong of crisis still echoes, a decade on from the worst recession in living memory. Rightly or wrongly, the psychology of hard times lingers, and businesses and governments pursue digital transformation largely for its potential to do more with less. This kind of activity breeds innovators, and if you are not one of them, you may struggle in the village square, or even fade from it.

By now, you have probably often read the meme: the world's largest media company, Facebook, produces no content of its own; the world's largest taxi firm, Uber, doesn't have any vehicles; and Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no hotels. The same World Wide Web that gave birth to these new platform enterprises is home to a 4-billion-strong horde (according to of digital natives, who have a tendency to share negative customer service experiences.

Analyse to strategise
As companies face up to the challenges of pleasing customers and remaining efficient, two of the pillars of digital transformation come sharply into focus: employee empowerment and operational optimisation. After all, how can you please customers or survive the platform evolution if you are not managing your daily schedule efficiently? Organisations the world over are waking up to this concept and embracing workplace analytics as a means of objectively monitoring and improving the use of that scarcest of all resources: time.

In 2012, the McKinsey Global Institute found that only 39 per cent of a workplace's time was spent on productive activity, with 28 per cent spent reading and answering e-mails, a further 19 per cent on research and the remaining 14 per cent on meetings and other internal communications. Indeed, meetings crop up as a source of waste in many studies on workplace efficiency.

A Bain & Co survey, published in the 2014 Harvard Business Review, shows senior executives spending an average of two days per week in internal meetings; and more than half of these executives rated those meetings as either "ineffective" or "very ineffective".

The intelligent cloud is ideally placed to connect all stakeholders in an organisation to the precise information and controls needed to address these issues. Tools such as Microsoft's My Analytics and Workplace Analytics focus on flexibility. Workplace Analytics Solution (WPS) also drives organisational change to establish best practices, predictive models and benchmarks; introducing initiatives based on behavioural data and measure the success of programmes over time.

In 2015, CareerBuilder sponsored a Harris Poll survey that looked at how time was being misused. Respondents ranked e-mail (31 per cent), impromptu chats with co-workers (27 per cent) and meetings (26 per cent) as their top productivity killers. Consequences of distractions included compromised work quality (45 per cent), missed deadlines (42 per cent) and even losses in revenue (21 per cent).

My Analytics and Workplace Analytics bolt into Outlook and Office 365 to optimise everything from the calendar to the impact of e-mail. Actionable insights can lead to enterprise-wide gains in productivity. Managers looking to optimise operations can leverage a deeper understanding of behaviour patterns in communication and collaboration across an organisation. By customising their analytics dashboards, management teams can integrate their own metrics and goals that go beyond mere KPIs, enabling them to root out inefficiencies.

Because the intelligent cloud works seamlessly with the intelligent edge, team leaders can ask meaningful, targeted questions about hiring strategies, new organisational structures and operational optimisation programmes.

The happiness factor
This all works because the intelligent edge swallows data on the daily activities of everyone, from the impact of e-mails to the effectiveness of meetings. The intelligent cloud sends feedback to the individual and management on all of this. But perhaps most importantly, because everything is automated, micro-management is minimised. And the end result is an autonomous employee with a healthy work-life balance, who is free to innovate.

Interconnected data spaces that collaborate on the fielding of automatic, data-led insights can lead to greatly enhanced operations. Eliminating time wastage leads to happier, more productive employees. And that leads to the kind of innovation necessary to allow an organisation to thrive in the digital age.

The writer is the regional director of Collaboration and Information Security Solutions at Microsoft Gulf. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

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