Where’s the value in analytics? As noted by ZDNet, the combination of AI and analytics is now being used to speed digital transformation. This makes sense — by leveraging current data to inform intelligent and autonomous decision making it’s possible to both improve business outcomes and streamline IT.

But as noted by research firm Gartner, there’s also a shift toward workplace analytics — data, metrics and KPIs based on the performance and experience of end-users. It’s a fundamental move: Instead of looking at data as the result of logical computer processes or discrete events, companies are now discovering ways to capture the real-time experience of employees interacting with technology, then using this data to both streamline service delivery and align with business objectives. The problem? It’s also a bottleneck: How do companies discover, analyze and communicate this data to employees and stakeholders?

One key player in this space is Microsoft, no surprise since the company has the largest share of both the desktop OS and productivity market. The Redmond giant has just rolled out a new tool — Microsoft Workplace Analytics — designed to “get powerful new insights to make better business decisions.” It’s a big step forward, one that dovetails well with current trends and offers real potential for business value. But it’s not the end of the line. Let’s look at the emerging potential of Microsoft’s offering, and what comes next.

Looking In

As noted by Tech Crunch, Microsoft long held the view that the Microsoft Graph, which collects user data as employees use the software giant’s online tools and services, offered a “wealth of information”. But this information isn’t useful unless companies can quickly and easily access it — and Workplace Analytics was born.

Microsoft’s new offering divides data into four standard “views”. ‘Week in the Life’ shows how users across the entire company are collaborating; ‘Meetings’ looks at both the quantity and quality of time spent in meetings. ‘Management and Coaching’ tracks how much time staff spend one-on-one with managers; while ‘Networks and Collaboration’ discover how employees are connecting with each other. So far, companies are using the tool to find optimal output behaviors and then duplicate them across the enterprise.

Branching Out

Given its large scale and massive potential, it’s no surprise that Workplace Analytics is making waves. But as the Tech Crunch article notes, creating custom dashboards and integrating other data outside of the Microsoft ecosystem may take some work. Gartner’s most recent report advises to look at third-party monitoring ‘AIOps’ solutions such as Nexthink to achieve greater visibility.

And it’s this need to incorporate other data sources that speaks to the end-user experience and empowering business objectives — while Office and other Microsoft productivity tools are widely used and incredibly valuable, they’re not the only pieces of software (and hardware) that companies use to sell new products, support customers, develop new services, create reports and ensure compliance. ERP tools, CRM systems, HR legacy deployments and mobile devices all form critical parts of the end-user experience.

Bottom line? Workplace Analytics is a great start but is just one piece of the bigger puzzle. To truly leverage the benefit of workspace analysis and end-user experience management companies need end-to-end tools capable of discovering data about business services, apps, devices, users and customers both inside and outside the enterprise.

To maximize the business benefit of digital transformation, companies can’t go wrong with Microsoft’s new analytic offering. Making the move from “great start” to “long-term success”, however, demands tools powerful enough to peer beyond the platform.