The power of sentiment…

And as if by magic..! Literally two days after my previous post for the HRTechEurope blog entitled It’s Time to measure engagement in #realtime, this article appears talking about the new partnership between Yammer and Kanjoya Crane, which will provide yammer clients with real time sentiment analysis of their employee conversations.

This is more significant than it at first seems and marks the beginning of a period when we will see employee engagement monitoring and measurement move from clunky, question driven surveys done once a year, to #realtime monitoring and action. In his latest post for this blog, How will employee engagement develop, Founder of OrganisationReview Andrew Merritt interviews Peter Wilde, former head of employee engagement at UBS and Unilever and now founder of and Peter makes the following comment about the future of traditional employee surveys:

“They’re still the most cost effective and useful way of getting insight from your people. They may well adapt (see Tesco’s new ‘Listen and Fix’ scheme) but, like cockroaches, they’ll still be around after a nuclear war”.

I’m not sure this is true, but even if it is, it won’t be for long. Innovation in employee engagement tends to follow that in customer engagement and this is increasingly true in this emerging social era. We have been using sentiment in customer engagement for some time so this move was inevitable, if not a little overdue. This means that real time tools for the employee group will develop along the lines of how we are innovating with customer data, as this latest article in latest issue of The Harvard Business Review about real time customer experience tracking demonstrates.

The interesting thing about the Yammer/Kanjoya tie up and what I shall be looking to understand is just how Yammer will make the most of the partnership. Yammer is a good product; it does what it says on the tin. But even amongst its big corporate client users there are critics, especially about its pricing model. A number of large organisations that I know are still on the free platform because the benefits of going to paid don’t seem to outweigh the significant cost.

It is not clear yet to me on what basis this app is deployed. If this app is only deployable on the paid for service, then Yammer might just have found the magic key to persuade large scale users to upgrade. If not, then there is even more reason for and organisation to stick with the free option. If anyone knows the answer, please get in touch or leave a comment.

I shall also be looking to see how the traditional engagement/survey tech companies will respond to the growth of real time and sentiment monitoring. As it stands at the moment, unless they do evolve and embrace the real time trend, I cant see them surviving long term. Surveys just don’t give you a multi-dimensional view, which is where the real value is here.

The potential of #Bigdata is often referred to when talking about structured data, but significant actionable insights can be gained from unstructured, conversational data too. In fact, because the availability of this type of data is relatively new, we don’t yet fully appreciate it’s long term value compared to more structured data forms. In my view, it could, longer term, offer greater and more relevant insight. There’s money in sentiment!

I firmly believe that the future trend will see innovation in employee engagement become parallel or even overtake that around customers as we increasingly recognise that the root to successful – and profitable – customer relationships start with an outstanding employee experience.

You heard it here first folks 😉


  1. This topic makes my head hurt for any number of reasons. Moments before reading this (honest !) I had just set up a review of Radian6, the Salesforce component that assesses SM sentiment in a similar way to that which you describe here.

    What has dawned on me recently is that surveys are an average of experience over a period. The relevance of any response depends on when your last experience was and the respondent’s prejudices. The half life of relevance is likely days or at most weeks for all but the most extreme experiences. Ones prejudices are, well, prejudices. The older the event the more your prejudice over rides the actual experience.

    Aggregating decaying experiences, overlaid with prejudice and you get some magnolia on wood chip results from surveys. Fairly bland with some lumps and bumps. Does the job, sort of…

    There is a temptation to take the real time capability you describe here and view it solely as a point in time view. You can do that, and if you are having a blip, be it a good or a bad one, then it’ll be useful. If you are smart you can act to amplify the good or damp down the bad.

    The powerful bit that just dawned on me is that you can aggregate all these fresh, precise, point in time experiences to produce the results surveys want to produce but can’t. By gathering fresh sentiment you can meaningfully aggregate and trend it without the worry about the half life of relevance and with prejudice at least a constant.

    Like all things that dawn on me, this observation right now seems earth shattering. Its also way too long and I need to get it down to a sentence or two. Once I understand it all a lot better it will probably seem a bit trivial, but that’s learning for you.

    Usually a topic that makes my head hurt at first turns out to extremely powerful.


  2. Why Candidates Who Have Worked In Hell Always Work Out! By Kris Dunn.

    Memory Triggered: When a credible candidate has worked in an absolute hell-hole where no one likes them, their organization or what they represent, guess what? They’re probably going to kick #$$ in your company, because your piddly little troubles and drama actually look appealing to them. They’re battle tested. They’ve been in the depths of hell, and your company’s not hell – it’s just El Paso in the summer.

    Read More:


  3. I always thought surveys were the invention of the silly modern era and feather in the cap of corporate burecracy…first you have to hire people to gather data, then the cost and later deriving conclusions , following up with delivery which should be a procedure of instincts, but since the era of small business is behind us, the instinct of employers is hardly at work!
    Bill Clinton had relied on his instincts to win elections along with statistics and had famously said that instincts give you more information than the current survey model that is in place


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