woman working in a newstand
PHOTO: Kat Coffe

Facebook has been busy with its Workplace from Facebook productivity suite. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company has announced it is adding a new insights panel to the platform’s administration tab. With it, Workplace admins can learn about employees usage of the platform and dig deeper than adoption and retention data. 

According to Facebook, measuring the relationship between a connected culture and company performance can be a challenge. Indeed, over the past four years one of the most commonly cited challenges enterprise leaders share about the digital workplace is this inability to gauge how many and what apps workers are using.

Generally, the key is data. There’s nothing new there — data is the key to many aspects of the workplace today. And Facebook agrees. “We think it all starts with having access to the right data. And while Workplace already allows admins to track adoption and retention, we want it to do more," a statement from the company reads.

The new insights panel offers enterprises a way to track five key components of the workplace, from employees to the content they create:

  • People: Tracks how active organizations are on the platform from the company’s initial implementation and onboarding to monthly active usage stats.
  • Content: Here is where you can quantify the amount of content your company creates and the number of employees who actively writing content.
  • Groups: Organizations that want to track group creation and activity across Workplace can now do so with the use of groups.
  • Posts: Measure the number of likes, comments and views posts receive to track the impact of messages on a post-by-post basis.
  • Connections: Another handy feature, the ability to see where collaboration is happening on Workplace, based on interactions between people.

So who can access it and who sees the information? According to Workplace, only admins and people with custom admin roles can use the new set of business intelligence tools, but presumably that means managers too.

While similar kinds of tools have previously caused some negative reaction due to the impression that workers' actions are being monitored, these kinds of insights are invaluable to gauge the employee experience and identify where work is needed. While it shows managers what workers are using, it also shows what they are not using or what they might want to use — and ultimately what they need to put in place to keep everyone happy and engaged.

The company also announced the availability of an online training hub, Workplace Academy, which provides interactive training materials, as well as self-paced courses, educational videos and guides in eight languages.

Microsoft Teams February Updates

Microsoft Teams kept up the pace of releases in February with a series of updates designed to better enable digital workplace employees to achieve business targets.

The big announcement was a new integration with the Outlook email service. In a blog post about the releases, Marissa Salazar, product marketing manager at Microsoft, said the new integration was built to make it easy to collaborate, regardless of if the conversation took place in Outlook or Teams.

As a result, the user can now move a Teams conversation over to Outlook by clicking on the more options and, starting this month, users will be able to move an email conversation, including attachments, from Outlook into a Teams chat or channel conversation by clicking on "Share to Teams" in Outlook.

Microsoft also announced the file experience in Teams, powered by SharePoint, has now been rolled out worldwide. This functionality can be found in the File tab of a channel and allows users to sync files to their computer, view previews across over 320 file types, work with metadata, pin files to the top and more.

The company also released a wide range of other features impacting security, recording storage and more, all of which can be found here

Panopto’s New Slack App Simplifies Sharing Videos

Meanwhile, Seattle-based Panopto announced an integration with Slack. The new integration will allow users to search for and securely share videos while using Slack.  According to Panopto, the new App for Slack ensures users will only see the videos they have permission to see. It authenticates viewers via single sign-on and provides administrators with tools to manage video viewer permissions at scale.

The new app also brings AI-powered video search into Slack, which means users can search the information inside videos in their Panopto library to surface and use data contained in videos.

Oracle Announces Oracle Cloud Data Science Platform

Elsewhere, Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle has announced the availability of the Oracle Cloud Data Science Platform. At its core is Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Data Science, designed to collaboratively build, train, manage and deploy machine learning models that will improve the chances of success in building a data science projects. Unlike other data science products that focus on individual data scientists, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Data Science claims it helps improve the effectiveness of data science teams with capabilities like shared projects, model catalogs, team security policies, reproducibility and auditability.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Data Science automatically selects the most optimal training datasets through AutoML algorithm selection and tuning, model evaluation and model explanation.

As it stands, enterprises are realizing only a fraction of the enormous transformational potential of data because data science teams don’t have easy access to the right data and tools to build and deploy effective machine learning models. The net result is that models take too long to develop, don’t always meet enterprise requirements for accuracy and robustness and too frequently never make it into production.

The Oracle Cloud Data Science Platform includes seven new services that deliver a comprehensive end-to-end experience designed to accelerate and improve data science results.

Ultimate Software Merges Kronos

Finally this week, Weston, Fla.-based Ultimate Software, which develops human capital management (HCM) software, has announced a merger with Lowell, Mass.-based Kronos, a longstanding provider of workforce management (WFM) and HCM solutions.

The announcement follows the acquisition of both vendors by Hellman & Friedman Private Equity and is meant to expand both Ultimate and Kronos’ respective user bases and augment existing functionality.

Independent researcher Nucleus expects the two vendors will eventually combine their existing functionality into a full suite HCM and WFM offering for both enterprise and SMB markets, while also retaining standalone WFM. This merger reflects the expected consolidation of the HCM space, as vendors look to compete and differentiate.