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Email and calendar data are helping firms understand how employees work

Andy Binns, Anna Kahn, Mary Elizabeth Porray, Michael Tushman

September 1, 2017

Using data science to predict how people in companies are changing may sound futuristic. As we wrote recently, change management remains one of the few areas largely untouched by the data-driven revolution. But while we may never convert change management into a “hard science,” some firms are already benefiting from the potential that these data-driven techniques offer.

One of the key enablers is the analysis of email traffic and calendar metadata. This tells us a lot about who is talking to whom, in what departments, what meetings are happening, about what, and for how long. These sorts of analyses are helping EY, where some of us work, by working with Microsoft Workplace Analytics to help clients to predict the likelihood of retaining key talent following an acquisition and to develop strategies to maximize retention. Using email and calendar data, we can identify patterns around who is engaging with whom, which parts of the organization are under stress, and which individuals are most active in reaching across company boundaries.

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Andy Binns

Andy Binns is the managing principal of Change Logic, a consulting firm based in Boston.

Anna Kahn

Anna Kahn is a Partner in EY’s People Advisory Services.

Mary Elizabeth Porray

Mary Elizabeth Porray is a Partner/Principal at Ernst & Young LLP EY’s People Advisory Services.

Michael Tushman

Michael L. Tushman is the Paul R. Lawrence MBA Class of 1942 Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and director of Change Logic, a Boston-based consulting firm specializing in innovation, leadership, and change. He is the co-author, with Charles O’Reilly, of of Lead and Disrupt, (Stanford University Press, 2016).