Microsoft took another step to expand its appeal in the enterprise with the acquisition of VoloMetrix, a company that uses big data to optimize organizational performance.

Rajesh Jha, Microsoft's Corporate Vice President, Outlook and Office 365, said VoloMetrix’s technology will be pulled into Office 365, specifically into its Delve analytics product that will be released later this year.

“Today, most of us don’t have the tools and information to help us make better decisions about our scarcest resource at work: our time,” Jha wrote in a blog post. The acquisition will give "people access to real data and objective, personalized feedback can lead to a virtuous cycle of improvement for both individuals and their company."

Microsoft did not release the terms of the deal.

The VoloMetrix Solution

With offices in Seattle and San Francisco, VoloMetrix claims it can improve companies’ organizational alignment, drive sales and promote employee engagement. It extracts and analyzes anonymous aggregated collaboration data to identify trends about employee behaviors.

There are two technologies that should be of particular interest to Microsoft and its plans for Delve.

The first is time use analysis technology that extracts and analyzes data aggregated from corporate communication systems like email and calendars. Using this data, VoloMetrix can provide insight into the subject, timing and format of collaboration, as well as an understanding of the role and geographic location of individuals involved.

It's similar to customer relationship management systems (CRM), with one significant difference. VoloMetrix analyzes all the organization's data, whereas CRM systems only use the data that users choose to enter.

VoloMetrix’s People Analytics provides insights into who and how many employees are involved in business processes, including customer interactions and vendor partner relationships.

It ties in with Microsoft's Delve Organizational Analytics, which Microsoft expects to launch in preview by the end of this month with the integrated Office 365 services available on general release later this year.

'A Smart Move'

Forrester Senior Analyst TJ Keitt said the acquisition gives Microsoft the analytical capabilities to advance Office Graph (and Delve) from a tool that routes them to the right content and expertise to one that tells them if they are actually focusing on the right things.

"It's a smart move," he said. The next step will be seeing Microsoft embeds this technology. "I don't think it will be sufficient to have Volometrix connect to Office Graph. To truly deliver on the promise, these will have to be capabilities of the platform. It will be interesting to see how fast Microsoft does this, given they've taken a while to loop Yammer into the Microsoft portfolio and still have much work to do three years after the acquisition."

Since Microsoft introduced Delve last year it has been adding new functionality and capabilities to make Delve and Microsoft Graph, on which Delve is built, key discovery tools for data that is located in Office 365.

Office Delve personalizes all the content that exists across Office 365 applications. It analyzes user metadata from the Office 365 environment (Yammer, SharePoint Online, Lync and Office Online) and relates content to each other.

Graph shows how employees connect with documents and one another, while Delve helps surface those content relationships.

By adding VoloMetrix into Delve analytics, Microsoft should be able to show organizations more details about those relationships.

“By harnessing this data – while maintaining strict privacy controls – customers can create these personalized feedback loops that help people answer questions like: How can I improve my emails to ensure my communications are impactful?,” Jha wrote.