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September 4, 2015

Microsoft Delves Deeper Into Worker Analytics

The universe of data analytics categories continues to expand, and Microsoft said it is again buying into one of the newest: organizational analytics.

The office software giant announced Thursday (Sept. 3) it is acquiring Seattle-based VoloMetrix, a specialist in “people analytics for the enterprise.” Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Microsoft said it would combine VoloMetrix’s organizational analytics technology with its existing Office       365 and Office Graph frameworks along with its Office Delve analytics tools previewed earlier this year.

“We expect to launch an early preview program for Delve Organizational Analytics within the next month, and general availability of the initial release of the integrated Office 365 service by the end of this calendar year,” Rajesh Jha, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Outlook and Office 365, said in a blog post.

VoloMetrix was founded in 2011 as an enterprise analytics startup focused on boosting organizational effectiveness and improving worker productivity. According to the venture investment web site CrunchBase, VoloMetrix has raised $16.9 million in three funding rounds.

Ryan Fuller, CEO and co-founder of VoloMetrix, said in a separate blog post that the startup has worked with “dozens of Global 2000 companies” to leverage its organizational analytics tools. Fuller said new analytics capabilities would be rolled out “over the coming months” along with new investments in the expanding Microsoft organizational analytics ecosystem.

The trend toward leveraging analytics to improve worker productivity has also spawned a growing “workforce analytics” software sector that develops tools for tracking employee performance and collaboration. Industry studies have found that employees spend only about 25 percent of their workday performing “core” tasks. Workforce analytics tools are being deployed to create baselines for how employees spend their time and increase their productivity.

Along with tracking how workers spend their time, the VoloMetrix tools attempt to gauge how workers collaborate with each other and with outside vendors and partners.

Its algorithms are used to extract and analyze aggregated “header-level” data from corporate communications systems. While claiming to protect employee privacy, the tool analyzes these data to extract the subject and timing of worker collaboration. Unlike customer relationship management systems, the startup said its tool automatically captures “a substantial portion of employee activity,” including more than 40 hours for senior executives and at least 25 hours for managers.

This “people analytics” data is then used to track relationships between teams, customer interactions and vendor relationships, VoloMetrix said.

The addition of the VoloMetrix tools is designed to help customers figure out whether they “have the right people and expertise in [their] network to accomplish a project,” Microsoft’s Jha added.

The VoloMetrix acquisition is Microsoft’s latest foray into workplace analytics. In July, it acquired the New Jersey-based software developer FieldOne Systems that helps companies manage remote employees. The company’s platform is built on Microsoft Office.

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