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People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work

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People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work


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How analytics can dramatically improve the performance and personal fulfillment of your workforce, and prepare them for future challenges! 

  • Use sensors, big data, analytics, and the lessons of evolutionary and cultural history to drive powerful benefits in organizational development
  • By MIT Media Lab's Ben Waber, the high-profile author whose work has been covered in media ranging from Wired to NPR to The Economist
  • Forward looking, yet actionable: what's coming, and what you can do right now
  • Brand-new case studies from Bank of America, eBay, Skype, and other innovators


  • Copyright 2013
  • Dimensions: 6" x 9"
  • Pages: 240
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-315831-4
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-315831-1

Discover powerful hidden social "levers" and networks within your company… then, use that knowledge to make slight "tweaks" that dramatically improve both business performance and employee fulfillment! In People Analytics, MIT Media Lab innovator Ben Waber shows how sensors and analytics can give you an unprecedented understanding of how your people work and collaborate, and actionable insights for building a more effective, productive, and positive organization. Through cutting-edge case studies, Waber shows how:

  • Changing the way call center employees spent their breaks increased performance by 25% while significantly reducing stress
  • Quantifying the failure of marketing and customer service to communicate led to a more cohesive and profitable organization
  • Tweaking the balance of in-person and electronic communication can enhance the value of both
  • Sensor data can help you discover who your internal experts really are
  • Identifying employees involved in "creative" behaviors can help you promote innovation throughout your business
  • Sensors and simulations can help you optimize your sick-day policies
  • Measuring informal interactions can improve the chances that a merger, acquisition, or "mega-project" will succeed

Drawing on his cutting-edge work at MIT and Harvard, Waber addresses crucial issues ranging from technology to privacy, revealing what will be possible in a few years, and what you can achieve right now. In bringing the power of analytics to organizational development, he offers immense new opportunities to everyone with responsibility for workplace performance.


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Preface to People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work

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Table of Contents

Preface     xix
Chapter 1  Sensible Organizations: Sensors, Big Data, and Quantifying the Unquantifiable     1
Telescopes, Microscopes, and “Socioscopes”     4
Unbiased?     6
Digital Breadcrumbs     7
“Socioscope”     8
Enter the Badge     14
Big Data = Big Brother?     17
Trust and Transparency     20

Chapter 2  Evolution, History, and Social Behavior: Our Wandering Road to the Modern Corporation     21
Back to the Future     22
In the Shadow of Man     22
You Say “Groups,” I Say “Organizations”     26
Individual < Tribe < City-State     28
Do as the Romans Do     30
Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution     31
New Information, New Communication     35
The Organization of Today     37
(In)formal Processes     39
Informally Important     48
The Social Network     50
Organizing the Path Ahead     55

Chapter 3  The Water Cooler Effect: Why a Friendly Chat Is the Most Important Part of the Work Day     57
Talk Your Ear Off     58
Cohesion versus Diversity     59
Blue-Collar versus White-Collar Water Coolers     70
Banking on Change     71
Peanut Butter Jelly Time     74
Break Value     77

Chapter 4  The Death of Distance? Measuring the Power of Proximity     89
So, Should I Stay at Home and Work in My Pajamas?     92
Co-Located Offices: The Gold Standard?     96
More Than a Tape Measure     100
Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?     102
Long Table, Short Table     104
So, Where Should I Sit?     106

Chapter 5  I’m the Expert: Why Connections Are More Important Than Test Scores     109
The (Electric) General     114
The IT Firm Study     115
IT Firm Study Results     116
Expert Puzzle     117
Being an Expert Expert     118

Chapter 6  You Look Like the Creative Type: The Importance of a Diverse Network     123
Cartoon Wars     125
Lessons from South Park: The Roots of Creativity     130

Chapter 7  Tough It Out versus Stay at Home: Modeling Disease Spread Through Face-to-Face Conversations     137
Corporate Epidemiology     140

Chapter 8  Why We Waste $1,200,000,000,000 a Year: Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Culture, and Communication     151
I’ll Call, and Raise     152
Fixing the Problem     155

Chapter 9  Attach Bolt “A” to Plank “Q”: Matching Formal Dependencies with Informal Networks     161
Big Projects, Big Problems     164
Congruence, Distance, and Software     169
Don’t Fall into the Gap     171
Keeping in Contact     174

Chapter 10  The Future of Organizations: How People Analytics Will Transform Work     177
Badges, Badges Everywhere?     179
Moving Toward the People Analytics System     181
Augmented Social Reality     188
All Around the World     189
The Next Big Thing     192

Chapter 11  Where We Go from Here: Face-to-Face Interaction, New Collaboration Tools, and Going Back to the Future     193
Back to the Future 2     200

Endnotes     203
Index     207


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