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Office 365 analytics could help -- or hinder -- O365 adoption

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Office 365 analytics could help the productivity suite become more of a must-have among users, but today, it runs the risk of spying on workers without enough ROI.

If Microsoft's Office 365 platform is to continue to gain currency among users, Office 365 analytics will likely need to take a front seat. Analytics is one of the engines powering this portfolio of services, promising to make companies more efficient and intelligent by providing real-time data on employees' work habits.

That's the idea behind Delve, the search tool within the Office 365 business productivity suite, and Office Graph, which powers Delve; to gather data about how employees work and help gain insight into making that work more productive.

If that sounds futuristic, it is, but it's also potentially prying by employers. Using data to gain insight into workers' productivity may help companies become more efficient and shunt workers to their areas of strength. At the same time, gathering this information on workers' day-to-day activities can cross the line to becoming intrusive monitoring of workers' every minute.

So while Office 365's analytics services have garnered 27 million users and Microsoft Office has generated $6.5 billion in Q3 2016, the productivity suite still has work to do to gain critical mass. That's partially because tools like Delve have been viewed with circumspection.

"That very level of access into a worker's performance and a worker's life can be … intrusive," Scott Robinson, a SharePoint and BI expert, said while discussing Office 365 analytics in this podcast.

"How much visibility should a manager have into the individual performance of a worker? Is my workaholism my manager's business? I don't think there's an easy answer. I think it's something that will have to be worked out over time," he said.

Robinson said that configuration management capability in Office 365 and Delve can help make it more "palatable" and less intrusive. In this way, companies can sort out the level of transparency they want to develop.

So, for example, Office 365 analytics may measure how often an employee is in email, but not reading the substance of emails, or search tools can be shut off at a certain hour.

Robinson said that Microsoft is trying to stay competitive with rivals like Google, but Office 365 analytics could help it get there.

"Microsoft has been late to the party … and is trying to leapfrog their competitors," Robinson said. "Making this work can put Microsoft ahead of the game."

For more, check out the podcast above.

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