When I was about 13 years old, I had my first face-to-face experience with real transformation. With the influence of my friend, and the inspiration from his sister and her friends, I found myself as the subject of a complete makeover – Hollywood horror film style.  As I reflect on this, I see the similarities between my experience then and what I experience now. My friend examined the many different aspects of the makeup from creating a foundation for the “wound” on my face and the proper depth, the color and structure of muscle tissue, the color and appearance of a fresh cut and bruising, and much more. Over the next hour my face transformed until I had a very realistic and very deep slash on my cheek. With his amazing work complete, we knew we had to show it off which ended in a bit of a surprise for my mom! Due to the shock of seeing the “wound” and the mischievous way in which my friend and I pulled off our prank, her comments at the time were akin to “I’ll never forgive you!”

Fast forward and as I work with clients on digitally transforming, I experience that when you lay out the ingredients for your work and incorporate a high-level of detail – you can have a profound impact on the people around you.    Now enter the scene -- Microsoft Analytics (WpA). 

Microsoft Workplace Analytics (WpA) and organizational change

A few weeks ago, I shared some ideas around Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics (WpA) service and how that service provides opportunities to gain unique insights into the people in our organizations. Jowilla Rabor, Director of Consulting Services, then shared her insights into how WpA can be used to drive our business transformations and how critical it is to have a solid and deep understand of the people data in driving change. Ginevra Drinka, PhD, continued this discussion, focusing on business outcomes using WpA. In both Jowilla’s and Ginevra’s articles, the core message focused on the business imperative to focus on people to drive real change. Driving change in an organization requires having a clear understanding of the changes needed in the business, engaging stakeholders and business leaders, and developing a clear change plan and campaign. The WpA platform is a critical part of this process as it helps an organization get accurate and real people data. A McKinsey Consulting study found that “50% of transformations fail to deliver impactful results because people’s behavior doesn’t change.”

Expanding the insights with a center of excellence

Addressing the culture of the organization is one of the most important things we need to be doing within our organizations and making these changes requires very real action and dedication. Driving these changes also requires new types of insights into how the organization operates and bringing together greater amounts of business data can unlock deeper insights into where the business is succeeding, where changes are needed, and where the culture and change programs need to focus. On its own, WpA provides a significant amount of data and insights into the organization. However, once paired with other business data sources, entirely new types of insights can be discovered. When the data is combined with effective reporting, dashboards, and even mobile apps, new Centers of Excellence (CoE) can be created about the organization.

Let’s consider the sales organization within a company. The WpA data can provide deep insights into how time is spent with a customer, how many interactions and what departments are interacting with a customer, the network depth (i.e. the number people at the customer that each person from the sales organization is interacting with), the types of collaboration happening, meeting experiences, and much more. When this data is combined with data from the CRM system, marketing and social media systems, the ERP system pulling in customer orders and activities, support and customer service, customer satisfaction surveys, and so forth, new types of insights can be unlocked. Then, combine this data with 3rd party data and purchased data and additional insights can be surfaced.

Driving intelligence and insights into actions

Ultimately, this data exceeds what WpA provides out-of-the-box and requires an analytical platform with data stores, machine learning, analytical services, and more. Having this platform, though, is where the magic can really happen.

Let’s consider some examples of how this data could come together. First, using external, paid data services with financial information, machine learning models could be created to predict the future spend and health of the customer. As quarterly reports and new data is made available, the machine learning models are tuned and optimized. How often do sellers in an organization chase after the customer that simply is not in the position to make a purchase and financial commitment? What if sales plans and customer assignments could start to become more intelligent based on customer viability?

Second, with the WpA data and customer account team data combined, sales leadership could now get detailed insights into customer interactions. Is the account team heavily engaged with a customer? Are there gaps in the engagement of individuals on an account team with the customer? How much of the account team’s time is spent on a single customer and is this negatively impacting other customers and their needs?

Third, new types of executive insights could be created allowing an executive to get a quick view of a customer before meetings including order history, customer satisfaction, future sales opportunities, the engagement level of the sales and delivery teams with the customer and the aforementioned machine learning powered insight models. And, all this data could be delivered in a mobile app giving the executive insights anytime and anywhere on the customer.

Many different centers of excellence can be combined for richer insights

These are just a few simple examples of how WpA, combined with other data sources, can create entirely new centers of excellence within an organization. While I focused on a simple sales example, WpA can power many different scenarios. For example, Microsoft created a facilities center of excellence looking at employee time traveling between meetings both within a specific building as well as between the dozens of buildings on the Microsoft campus. Using these same deep insight models, the team found that making adjustments to where individuals sat in a building and building plans could significantly reduce the lost time going between locations and the delayed meetings where the meeting didn’t start until attendees arrived. And each of these different Centers of Excellence can be combined to gain deeper insights across the business.

Creating meaningful change starts with having the right data and the insights to know what changes are needed and to have clearly mapped opportunities to drive that change. Driving the much talked about digital transformation starts with looking at our people, our culture, and getting insights into how we can be better.

Like the Hollywood horror film makeover, the top performance starts with the right foundation, a good insight into the audience experience, and having some fun! (And no… after all these years my mom continues to remind me that she does not forgive me!)