Management departments usually based on data collected by the systems could decide whether a meeting was successful, drawing attention to potential problems that should be changed, the location and who must be invited, whether the time was ok for achieving best results, etc.
Long and Poorly attended meetings are one of the issues of organizations that could be modified or avoided, and this would be possible if there is enough information regarding the quality of the meetings and Microsoft came up with a solution to monitor workers in the interest of maximizing organizational productivity. According to attest Surface Microsoft patent, a system for deriving and predicting "overall quality scores" for meetings using data such as body language, facial expressions, room temperature, time of day, and a number of people in the meeting. The monitoring is done by using, sensors, cameras, and software tools to determine, for example, "how much a participant contributes to a meeting vs performing other tasks (e.g., texting, checking email, browsing the Internet)."
Microsoft patent application US20200358627 A1
The “meeting insight computing system” based on the gathered data predicts the possibility that a group will hold a high-quality meeting. Typically, the conventional scheduling systems don’t have real-world context, therefore the meetings are likely to unproductive. The system allows managers to monitor the number of days and hours when employees have been sending emails, chatting on social media, using mentions in emails, etc. therefore a full-fledged workplace scrutiny tool is provided.
The new patent filing is a follow-up to a related application filed in 2018 and granted in August of this year (2020).
The Privacy Issue
Although the idea of improving meeting productivity is not in itself concerning, however, the monitoring of meeting participants raises concerns over employee privacy and investigation.
The patents do not specify any potential privacy protections. However, the corporate vice president of Microsoft 365 has emphasized Microsoft's strong commitment to keeping privacy in all the MS services. According to his latest opinion, the productivity Score is about discovering new ways of working, to give employees great experiences of collaboration and technology. It focuses on actionable insights into how people and teams use tools so you can make improvements or provide training to continue the digital transformation.
In the context of a rise in remote working, many have voiced concerns that the pandemic could lead to greater levels of employee investigations in the workplace, particularly when it comes to invasive productivity monitoring and as Microsoft claims, the introduced patents will not be serious concerns.
There’s no sign yet that Microsoft plans to roll out this hypothetical system disclosed in the patents. Microsoft has established an internal artificial intelligence ethics office and a companywide committee to ensure that it's AI products live by its principles of responsible AI, including transparency and privacy.