Navigo Blog

Email and organisation performance

In the workplace we all get too much email, I do not know anyone who would debate this. In fact I have known workplaces that stop functioning when the email system is down.

The growth in Enterprise Social Tools like wikis, Yammer and Jive all try and reduce our burden on email. Unfortunately it seems without email business still cannot function.Intrascope

There is a unique player in the Australian analytics marketplace – Intrascope Analytics. A privately funded six person organisation based in Melbourne looking to help add value to email.

Intrascope Analytics are using email (and in some cases voice traffic) flow to help organisations understand the behaviours that drive performance in the workplace.


By analysing the email and voice traffic flow between individuals to understand the key influencers in organisations. To determine the influencers they have created a “page rank” like metric to measure how central the person is to the general flow of information and then the probability that information will flow to a particular person. Analysis is usually conducted using primarily email communication, due to the ease of gaining access to the data.

To protect the confidentiality of the participants the content of the communication is not reviewed just the sender and the recipient information. In addition to the basic sender and recipient content they use the frequency of communication to determine the strength of the relationship between the parties.

For the process to work organisations need to have archives – email sent and voice calls made – covering a minimum of three months and the ability to tie email addresses and/or phone numbers to people information stored in a HRIS.

After I wrote this post I received a link to a newly released video from Instrascope demonstrating their software.

Workplace Application

The initial area of focus is the assist with change management programs to identify key influencers within an organisation.  The use case will be to run analysis at the start of a major change program and identify influencers and then while the program is taking place continue to measure communications. All the time the actual content of the communications are not reviewed.

Due to the complex nature of the analysis they are initially looking to partner with change management consultants. Longer term plans will allow individual organisations to purchase the software.

While change management is their initial focus there are other HR areas where Intrascope Analytics believes they can add value. Programs such as:

  • Diversity
  • Succession planning
  • Career development
  • Engagement
  • Retention

All of these areas have the potential to significantly impact the financial performance of an organisation.

According to Steve Pell Intrascope’s CEO being able to look at interactions and then compare to individual performance organisations can identify engagement issues and potentially predict turnover. Being able to overlay information flow with performance data you can also look at answering questions such as does the communication flow contribute to performance of specific teams.

In a recent case study they found the replacement cost of employees in one area of the organisation was significantly higher than first thought. To quote Steve:

Replacement cost for an employee is often benchmarked at 1.5 times salary, but as we know there’s a huge number of factors that can play into the individual productivity loss from turnover. Using relationship data we showed during a recent pilot that the cost for the organisation was at least double. The data clearly showed that it took new hires more than two years to reach the same position as equivalent staff.


While Intrascope Analytics are in very early stages of their growth they are an excellent example of big data analytics in the workplace. It is good to see innovative organisation like Intrascope Analytics and Culture Amp coming out of Australia.

Intrascope Analytics also takes the concepts used in a recent MIT tool called Immersion to deliver practical outcomes. You can read more about the Immersion tool in a recent post by Steve Boese’s – If you want to understand work, you have to understand email, a more darker look at Immersion is provided by Den Howlett – What GMail knows about me and you.


  1. Steve Pell

    Hi Darin, You make a good point – everyone knows certain people where the quality of communication is much lower than the quantity!

    There’s a few simple filters that we apply that clean up 99% of these quality issues – like looking for only reciprocated contact sustained over an extended period of time.

    Without getting into too much detail – the remaining variability doesn’t generally have a big impact on results. We’re not just looking at who knows the most people, but also who has access to the most information (based on where their contacts sit in the informal organisation).

    Happy to point you to more information, if you’re interested.

  2. Darin

    Interesting article, certainly it makes sense that the main influencer would be the person who communicates to the largest number of people, only variable would be the quality of the communications that are being made.


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