Widespread use of collaboration apps has led companies to realize that collecting and analyzing data from them can provide invaluable insight on individual and team behavior. This knowledge, in turn, can help IT leaders make better-informed technology decisions.
The idea of using collaboration app data to better understand employee behavior took root in the global workplace shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, as companies sought to understand the effect virtual work left on employee efficiency, productivity and well-being. Today, use of collaboration app data is clearly of interest.
According to Metrigy's "Employee Experience: 2023-24" global study, nearly 53% of 499 survey respondents said they are currently using or planning to use collaboration behavior data for a wide variety of purposes.
The top uses for gathering collaboration data include the following:
- Examine depersonalized data to determine how teams work.
- Enable HR and other business leaders to understand the behavior of best-performing teams.
- Help underperforming teams improve their effectiveness.
- Understand how employees are using collaboration technology.
- Evaluate ROI, and assess key performance metrics, such as productivity, retention and satisfaction.
The study also examined the companies already using collaboration behavior data to determine which types of decisions the data is most influencing. Here, 52% of companies in general and 63% of the study's success group -- as determined by improvements in employee satisfaction, productivity and retention -- responded that they use the data to guide an understanding of technology device requirements. Additionally, 45% of the companies in general and 56% of the success group use collaboration app data to optimize software licensing costs.
Let's take a look at some questions that companies might answer with the help of collaboration behavior data.
1. Who should receive a webcam or professional headset as part of the standard IT kit?
While hybrid meetings have become the norm, camera usage can vary widely, depending on department, persona, meeting type, region, role or team. The ability to pull usage and behavior information from video meeting apps and equipment means companies no longer have to make blanket decisions about webcams. Rather, they can analyze the data to determine usage.
For example, if employees of one department rarely, if ever, turn their cameras on when meeting virtually, then their computers' internal cameras will suffice. Conversely, if one persona type always turns on their camera for meetings, then providing an upgrade from computer camera to webcam, or perhaps even video collaboration bar, is an appropriate decision. The same assessment could apply to personal headset use during meetings.
2. Which of two video meeting apps should become the corporate standard?
Using collaboration behavior data can remove the emotion and personal bias out of the "this or that app" decision. Many companies are using multiple collaboration apps -- often Zoom for video meetings, plus a collaboration suite, like Microsoft Teams or Webex by Cisco -- as a result of racing to get workers connected during the early days of the pandemic. Today, these companies are looking to rationalize their spend and get everybody on the same technology footprint. This can cause tension among stakeholders with differing opinions.
In one instance shared with Metrigy, IT was able to stop two business unit heads from squabbling over which of two video meeting apps, whose use varied by department, should be the standard app for the company as a whole. Sharing usage and behavioral data from organic adoption of the apps shifted the decision from one based on personal preference to one driven by data. IT was able to move the company forward with a decision that best served the business, while reducing licensing costs.
Companies should also study the use of a standalone team collaboration app versus team chat within a broader suite to assess their licensing requirements.
3. Should IT add digital whiteboards in conference rooms to better support hybrid work?
As a starting point, IT can examine whether employees are using the virtual whiteboard feature available within the company's video meeting app. If they are, then which employees most use the feature, and where do they work when in the office? With these types of details, IT can prioritize which conference rooms would benefit from having digital whiteboards. Along the same lines, a company maintaining different video meeting apps could examine usage by room to assess which video room to upgrade.
Collaboration behavior data is available not only from the apps themselves, but from other ecosystem players, such as device makers and performance management vendors. Viewing this data can provide invaluable insight when evaluating technology investments.
Beth Schultz is vice president of research and principal analyst at Metrigy. She focuses her research on unified communications, collaboration and digital customer experience.