Monitoring Employee Performance in Real Time

Companies can track behavior of individual customers and they can also track behavior of individual employees

Companies are tracking their customers, watching their behavior and measuring their value. Should they also start tracking their employees and calculating their contributions? Social media and web-based data collection tools allow companies to monitor individual customers in real-time and amass huge amounts of data about their habits and preferences. What if they started amassing similar data about the habits and effectiveness of their employees?

A startup company named E22 Alloy is providing a SaaS application they call “a cloud-based workforce telemetry solution” and it enables companies to tap into everything from employees’ PCs to their smartphones and collect data that shows what they are doing. Is this a step down the slippery slope toward Big Brother watching over our every move, or is it something employees should actually welcome?

Companies can Monitor and Measure their Human Capital

I met the company CEO, Josh Gold, at the O’Reilly Strata conference on big data that is happening this week in Santa Clara. Josh made a presentation on the product and services his company offers and we talked afterward. He made the point that approximately 45 percent of company revenues on average go to employee salaries and other human capital investments such as training and education. He went on to say that their research indicates companies in North America spend something like $760 billion dollars annually on salaries that do not produce any real value.

What if companies were better able to find out which employees actually produce value based on tracking their activities and the results those activities deliver? E22 Alloy starts by consulting with companies to design and implement digital data collection processes. Josh advocates collecting lots of data right from the start even if companies don’t initially know what they will do with this data. Their experience indicates that collecting data at five second intervals on 1,000 employees over a 10 year period would only amount to about a terabyte of total data. This is big data, but certainly a manageable amount of data. 

Once the data collection process is in place, the data is stored in a secure cloud-based platform. Employees have the opportunity to review the data that is collected on their activities, and they can erase data they feel is inaccurate or is not relevant to their work. These erasures are noted and employers can also see who has erased how much of their data. Josh’s company then provides employers with standard reports and tools to analyze the data and measure employee performance.

This Data can be Put to Many Uses

E22 Alloy has been in business for about two years and they are working with some technology companies and also some universities and non-governmental aid organizations. Josh pointed out that in industries such as professional sports and entertainment, companies already monitor their people’s activities and routinely measure the effectiveness of their performance and the value they produce. An athlete’s performance is monitored constantly and their performance is ranked and reviewed continuously. 

After listening to his presentation and discussing the pros and cons of this with other people who heard Josh’s presentation, I can see the potential of this service. Yet I am left with a few questions.

Will this level of scrutiny be used for good or evil? Will it be used to micromanage and coerce employees, or will it be used to coach employees and help them improve their performance? What about the many good employees whose work is contributing value to their companies but who presently go unnoticed because they are not good at office politics or at blowing their own horn – will this kind of data collection give those employees the recognition and rewards they deserve and would otherwise not get? 

What do you think? How would something like this work in your company?

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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