We're living in the age of the quantified self -- the idea that by logging and observing personal metrics, you'll be able to alter your behavior, improve your performances and meet your goals. Microsoft has been looking at the quantified worker, taking the product formerly known as Delve and reworking it as a tool within Office 365 called MyAnalytics. The point to MyAnalytics is to analyze the nature of your workplace communications, your schedule, your email habits and your project activity, then show you the patterns so you can adjust your behavior to improve your workplace time and results.
I spoke with Brian Goode, general manager for Office 365 Shared Product Marketing, about MyAnalytics, what people are supposed to do with all that data, and what stumbling points there may be with a product that nudges you toward collaboration.
Q. Why did MyAnalytics so heavily focus on human to human interaction?
A. Collaboration is a top priority — the way we work with others is the way you work. Understanding how you work with others — who you’re working with, who you should work with more.
Q. So how does throwing a light on the person-to-person interactions reduce the number of meetings you have?
A. Based on how we know you’re working with people we can make suggestions for how to work — we can suggest how to work, note the number of meetings you’re sharing with someone else and divide and conquer.
[This refers to working with a colleague to split attendance at the number of meetings you both normally attend. The idea is, you and the colleague will halve your meeting load and pool notes from each meeting.]
The next generation of our MyAnalytics plug-in in Outlook will have new capabilities, so if you’re setting up a meeting, it can offer suggestions as to who should come or not It’s all based on the Microsoft Graph.
Q. Right now, this is available for the enterprise user. Will it come to individual Office 365 subscribers?
A. I’m always open to taking MyAnalytics to new markets where it makes sense.
Q. How can MyAnalytics help people individually boost their ability to collaborate? Can you give a concrete example?
A. When I first started using MyAnalytics, I wanted to see how I was spending my time. I was speeding a lot of time in meetings — not unexpected, but it was prohibitive and not conducive to focus time. I saw it very clearly in my metrics, week after week. I started to block out dedicated focus time in my week, and after doing that, I also found a side benefit — my after-hours work was going down. Because I was doing fewer meeting and better delegating, I was able to focus my work more. It had a pretty significant effect on my work-life balance.
Q. MyAnalytics collects and displays data -- but will there be guidance or actionable advice for users?
A. Actionable advice, certainly. we’ve done some interesting things where we’ve worked with consulting partners where people hand out their MyAnalytics dashboard to a coach, so the coach can give actionable advice. You can customize how much of your dashboard you can share.
We don’t have our version of the 10,000 steps metric and here’s why: Everybody’s workplace is difference. if we were to set hard guidelines, that would wok for some people but not others.
We’re at a stage where we can give you visibility, and we’re creating a product that will allow organizations to create custom metrics and cascade that metric down in employee dashboards.
Early adopters are those people in that cult of productivity, you know, the lifehackers who want to get the most out of every moment. The thing we need to address to get to more casual users is a way to bring it into tools that they’re already using.
Q. What are some of the lessons Microsoft has learned regarding how you thought people would use improved collaboration tools in o365 over the last year, and how it’s actually worked out among users? In other words — how have users surprised you?
In the past year, I’ve been pretty impressed with customer adoption of the cloud features — especially Office 365 groups. The usage of that has been really great. I can’t share the numbers but it’s better than I had expected. I think that is an indicator of how people are using office to collaborate and get things done.
Q. A lot of the newer features across the Office applications encourage collaboration. But what are some of the identified roadblocks in collaboration?
One of the trends that’s certainly been true over the last several years has been to get more work done with people outside the organization. That’s a challenge — just last month, we introduced something in Office 365 groups that allows you to add external users to a group, which is very much a reflection of that trend. The [freelance] trend is a pretty major trend we’re continuing to invest in.
In this world where the boundaries of the company may be blurry, one thing is clear: where the intellectual property is and who owns it. The balance we want to strike is, how do we enable you to work the way you want, with the tools you like and ht flex you need, but still have controls for security and compliance?
Q. Do users ever get uncomfortable with the level of collaboration the Office 365 suite encourages, or that MyAnalytics will nudge you toward?
A. We always try to give the user a level of control they’re comfortable with. Users still have the ability to determine how they want to save files and share with someone. We give users the ability to control permission granularly. But if you want to get things done, you might have to rethink that.
There’s a diverse set of needs and work styles in the workplace today and there will be for at least a decade. We have the opportunity to address that range — we don’t believe there’s one single tool that works for everyone.