This is interesting to me, because it is almost exactly one of the examples I used to use in training to talk about analytical tools.
“One of the key enablers is the analysis of email traffic and calendar metadata. This tells us a lot about who is talking to whom, in what departments, what meetings are happening, about what, and for how long. These sorts of analyses are helping EY, where some of us work, by working with Microsoft Workplace Analytics to help clients to predict the likelihood of retaining key talent following an acquisition and to develop strategies to maximize retention. Using email and calendar data, we can identify patterns around who is engaging with whom, which parts of the organization are under stress, and which individuals are most active in reaching across company boundaries.”
When teaching, I used to talk about eDiscovery and investigations, and how once you identified one party, the first thing you’d want to know is who they talk to most frequently. So look at their email traffic! (Throw in calendar items too, because it tells you who they meet with, and may even tell you who they have lunch with, etc.) That’s a no-brainer, so if you want to learn more about how communication is working, or not, in an office, analyze that kind of traffic.
It also means two other things:
1. If you don’t want your employer to know who you talk to, don’t use the organizations tools. Use outside tools to communicate.
2. As the article points out, there are some privacy concerns about how much of the analysis you want to do, especially in places like the EU where the company does not have absolute ownership rights to all data stored on company computers and networks. That’s a whole blog post in itself.
In the end though, the first thing any good investigator wants to know is who knew what, and when. Email and calendar information is where I’d look, and it’ll be where big data tools start looking as well when they want to learn more about how teams work in the office.
After all, there’s a reason the NSA wanted phone metadata more than anything else.