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Visier's collaboration analytics buy is about team dynamics

Collaboration analytics is designed to understand how people and teams work together, a capability Visier is gaining with its recent acquisition of Yva.ai.

HR has been deploying tools to measure employee productivity, as well as retention and burnout risks. Yva.ai, a startup based in Santa Clara, Calif., does all of those things, as well as employee polling, but with the goal of understanding how people and teams work together, or collaboration analytics. 

This week, Visier Inc., a workforce and people analytics firm in Vancouver, acquired the assets of Yva.ai and will make its collaboration analytics technology part of its platform. 

Although Yva.ai has some productivity monitoring features, Dave Weisbeck, chief strategy officer at Visier, said it isn't a monitoring platform. Its overarching goal is to help teams work better together. 

Sales, for instance, is a team effort involving people who handle the customer relationship, technical support and others who work behind the scenes, Weisbeck said. "It is a collaboration," he said. 

"We know certain teams are more successful than others -- why is that?" Weisbeck said.

The collaboration analytics tool looks for patterns such as, for instance, how "the tonality of your project communication compares to others," Weisbeck said.

While the data gives insights into how teams are faring, it also tells individual employees how they are doing. "Am I getting stressed out because, clearly, my emails are becoming more short and blunt?" he said.

We know certain teams are more successful than others -- why is that?
Dave WeisbeckChief strategy officer, Visier

Where data is sourced

The Yva.ai tool sources some of its data from Microsoft Office 365, Teams, Zoom, Slack and other enterprise applications. It also polls workers, seeking peer-to-peer feedback, asking questions such as who they think is effective on a team. It applies natural language processing and sentiment analysis to written communications, which can help in burnout detection and retention risk analysis. 

The employees see the data on the application, and the tool "gives you some insight into your own energy or burnout levels" and an "understanding of how you are interacting with others," Weisbeck said. The manager sees the same data that employees see, he said.

Stacia Garr, co-founder and principal analyst of RedThread Research, an HR research firm, said the acquisition gives Visier the ability to integrate and analyze a variety of data and builds on its capability to bring in other types of data from HR and operational systems. 

"This is a smart move for Visier because it will allow it to provide highly actionable data to individual managers and business leaders," Garr said. It will also drive more enterprise-wide use of Visier's product, she said.

The upside of this system is that analysis can be "highly predictive of burnout, turnover, et cetera, so this can help leaders identify and address challenges earlier," Garr said. And the data doesn't have to be collected actively or via surveys, "so employees don't have to be disturbed and leaders don't have to wait to ask employees how they are doing."

But implementation could stir perceptions of loss of privacy or Big Brother monitoring, "which can erode trust" if employees don't know what data is being collected and analyzed, Garr said. "Most tools like Yva.ai require employees to opt in, not opt out -- so that can help address this concern."

Another potential issue is "that managers may not use these insights appropriately if they don't understand that they are predictions, not certainties," Garr said. And "some managers may use this information to target specific individuals if they already suspect that they are planning to leave."

She said employers could address this by controlling manager access or rolling out the capabilities slowly with training.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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