Google has developed a new feature for its G Suite of enterprise software that will enable managers to track whether and how employees are using various G Suite apps such as Gmail and Google Docs, the tech giant revealed this week. The tool, called “Work Insights,” is now in beta after being previewed with a small set of business customers, and will allow administrators to “gain visibility into which teams are working together and how they’re collaborating” and “review trends around file-sharing, document co-editing, and meetings to help foster connections, strengthen collaboration and reduce silos.”
To protect employee privacy, Google added, Work Insights only produces aggregated data analytics for teams of ten people or more, so admins will not be able to monitor individual employees’ use of G Suite apps, but will be able to see, for example, how many employees in a given business unit are using Google Hangouts.
The move looks like part of Google’s efforts to make G Suite more competitive against Microsoft’s enterprise technology collection, Office 365, CNBC’s Jillian D’Onfro noted in reporting the news. G Suite had 4 million paying customers as of this past February, whereas Microsoft counts 135 million active monthly commercial users of Office 365, which made its own Workplace Analytics feature generally available in 2017. Workplace Analytics also only uses aggregated and de-identified data to provide insights on a team, not individual, level.
Google and Microsoft, along with fellow tech giant Facebook and the startup Slack, have been jockeying for market share in the increasingly competitive realm of enterprise software, particularly collaboration tools. Google added new features to G Suite last year, splitting the Hangouts app into Hangouts Meet, a video chat program, and Hangouts Chat, a group chat and collaboration platform similar to Slack.
Along with artificial intelligence, analytics is shaping up to be one of the key areas of competition among these companies and their platforms. There is a lot of opportunity here, as many organizations are looking at ways to leverage their data to improve productivity and the employee experience, but corporate leaders remain skeptical of the business value of talent analytics, as they often think they can’t trust the data. Collecting reliable, high-quality data and drawing actionable insights to solve business problems are the main challenges organizations face in implementing talent analytics today.