Microsoft 365 ‘Workplace Analytics’ Productivity Score: Microsoft’s privacy committment

[German]Microsoft’s software developers have enhanced their Microsoft 365 with a ‘Workplace Analytics’ feature that allows administrators to monitor and evaluate the performance of their users. Over the last week, there’s been a lot of conversation about Microsoft Productivity Score from data protectionists and works councils. Now Microsoft has published a commitment to privacy in Microsoft Productivity Score.


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Some Background

In Microsoft 365, Microsoft has integrated a feature called ‘Workplace Analytics’ for the evaluation of the productivity of workforces and has now activated that feature. Microsoft advertises that this functionality enables people to determine their productivity and also to measure whether they become more productive over time.

For example, it is possible to find out how long employees were in meetings, how often and how long e-mails were processed, etc. The Workplace Analytics function can access calendar and e-mail data as well as telemetry data. The results are then displayed in a dashboard. There is a promotional video from Microsoft that demonstrates this feature.

(Source: YouTube)

Of course, this calls for works councils and data protectionists, because Microsoft 365 is the ideal tool for monitoring workforces and conducting performance reviews. The Vienna based researcher and data protection activist Wolfie Cristl has addressed it in a series of tweets.

Microsoft 365 'Workplace Analytics'
Microsoft 365 ‘Workplace Analytics’


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I’ve covered this topic within my blog post Microsoft 365 ‘Workplace Analytics’ – Productivity Score nightmare.

Commitment to privacy in Microsoft Productivity Score

Now Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, Jared Spataro, has published a commitment Our commitment to privacy in Microsoft Productivity Score, where he was specifying the changes Microsoft will make.

  • First, Microsoft is removing user names from the product. During preview, we added a feature that showed end-user names and associated actions over a 28-day period. In response to feedback over the last week, we’re removing that feature entirely. Going forward, the communications, meetings, content collaboration, teamwork, and mobility measures in Productivity Score will only aggregate data at the organization level—providing a clear measure of organization-level adoption of key features. No one in the organization will be able to use Productivity Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365.
  • Second, Microsoft is modifying the user interface to make it clearer that Productivity Score is a measure of organizational adoption of technology—and not individual user behavior. Over the last few days, we’ve realized that there was some confusion about the capabilities of the product. Productivity Score produces a score for the organization and was never designed to score individual users. We’ll make that clearer in the user interface and improve our privacy disclosures in the product to ensure that IT admins know exactly what we do and don’t track.

These changes to the product will bolster privacy for end users, while still enabling IT professionals to measure and manage their organization’s adoption of the productivity apps and services in Microsoft 365.


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