Every week I receive in my email a report providing me insights on how to increase my productivity. It is from a service called MyAnalytics and it tells me how much time I spend reading emails in the evenings and how much “focus time” I have every week.

This insight service made me think, so I made my own analysis.

Lesson 1 – Data Privacy

I do not recall giving explicit consent to MyAnalytics to collect the data that is used to provide this insight service. It is very probable that somewhere in the fine prints of a Terms and Conditions disclaimer I have accepted my data being collected. Or it is possible that someone else has decided this for me.

What I learned: Data privacy is becoming a huge topic. In the future, it won’t be so easy any more for companies to collect personal data without a realistic opt-out clause.

Lesson 2 – Data Monetizing

MyAnalytics is a perfect example of how to monetize data: a company collects the data, analyzes it, visualizes and enriches it – and then sells it back as a service or as part of a software subscription bundle.

What I learned: There are plenty of companies that do not realize the value of the data they get from their customers. They are either giving away data for free or they fail to see the potential in selling it as a service.

Lesson 3 – Data Sources

For this particular insight service, many data sources are available: my emails, my calendar entries, chats, meetings, browsing time, and probably my time spent on professional social media platforms. However, there is one data source which most certainly was available to this provider, but which does not show in my weekly report: the error reports and log files from the applications running on my laptop. Surely some insights could be gained from these and how they impact my productivity negatively?

What I learned: You have to know the data-sources that are used before you can judge the validity of a report or analysis.

Lesson 4 – Data Bias

And this brings me to an important lesson: objectivity or bias. By omitting the time I lose daily with application errors, restarting apps, interrupted virtual meetings, updates, restarts, and authentication requests, this insight report is incomplete.

What I learned: By omitting data, you can make things look better – but it might get back to haunt you.

Lesson 5 – Insights by visualization

Although the MyAnalysis report gave me some kudos for having enough focus time, it did point out – correctly –that I had not replied to all my calendar invites. Not so nice of me.

What I learned: Sometimes a fancy report helps to convey an obvious message better.

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Menno Huijben is a Senior Executive at Sofigate and a concept owner of Business Technology Transformations and Data Leadership.

Menno is interested in the realm of decision-making in business, especially where a data-driven mindset meets intuition and experience. His motto is ”Don’t forget the Human Factor!”


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