Yammer, the Microsoft enterprise social network platform, made an important statement about the importance of transparency and collaboration when it released its new Group Insights analytics dashboard last week.
Usage information is usually something that is accessible by only a chosen few. Being able to determine how many people have accessed a certain resource online, participated in a conversation, or visited a website is the key to understanding how our work connects with members, customers and users. Usually, this information lives behind a password wall, and some would argue the information requires interpretation of data so that the results can be easily understood by different people, at different seniority levels with different skill sets.
Too often, this information is kept close by those who have the passwords, and it is shared as a report or upon request, and is usually filtered and re-formatted by the time it is seen by other people. The advantage to reserving this information for a chosen few, I suppose, is that the data could be misinterpreted by those who are not experienced in reading and interpreting data.
Yeah, OK. That’s a weak excuse, and I was thrilled to see that Yammer made Group Insights available to anyone in a Yammer network.
In the Group Insights dashboard, anyone can see how their Yammer group is performing. Whether they are a group admin, member or guest, they can see how many users are active in the group, how many messages have been posted and read, and how those numbers have changed since the last reporting period. All this information can also be downloaded in a spreadsheet for further interpretation and manipulation.
Yammer has gone transparent. By giving everyone access to this valuable information, our organizations immediately embrace a new kind of transparency. As long as the Yammer group is public, anyone can see how that group has been performing. Everyone can see how conversations have engaged group members, and how a project might have resulted in more group activity.
This lesson of transparency can be taken further. In addition to regularly evaluating group insights, a public group can be created in your network where you maintain spreadsheets and conversation about how your network, and groups in your network, perform from week to week, from month to month. How have these groups performed over similar periods of time? What can groups learn from one another on best practices, or things to avoid?
People are smart. Let everyone see the numbers, and empower everyone to put those numbers to work to inform their work, and to find new ways to success and engagement.
Hopefully, through platforms like Yammer, access to data will continue to be democratized. The more that people throughout an organization have access to data, the more that data can be used to inform the work that is being done.
Go transparent. Democratize your data.