Data & Privacy in Solstice Cloud Analytics
Author: Mike Tolliver, Mersive Technologies
Over the last few decades, disparate pieces of technology have evolved to become more interconnected. This trend hit an inflection point in the late 2000s as the smartphone entered our lives, changing our concept of a “phone” from the thing you call people with to a personal technology platform in your pocket.
This evolution is a natural one and in some ways, unavoidable. It unlocks features that are very desirable to customers – Hey Siri, give me directions to Kevin’s new place – but as the value of that set of interconnected features increases, so too does the value of the data it produces, even spurring new economies. But whether or not you believe data is the new oil, one thing is certain – as the value of data increases, concerns over its privacy will inevitably follow.
The purpose of this post is simply to be transparent and forthright about our philosophy on privacy and data ownership here at Mersive. It’s timely because the “connected platform” trend mentioned above is also happening in meeting spaces. The spaces themselves have evolved at an impressive rate over the last couple of decades. They’ve had to accommodate the rise of open floor plans, huddle rooms, changes in team structure, increase in remote workforce, and many other factors. Looking forward, they’ll need to account for the impact of COVID-19, the increasing push away from open floor plans, and whatever else the future holds.
But it’s not just the physical spaces that are changing, the technology that outfits these spaces has been evolving at an even faster rate. Just 10 years ago, the wireless presentation market didn’t exist. Now, not only is wireless presentation a solved problem, the solution has evolved well beyond the initial scope to offer significant adjacent value. For instance, several dedicated hardware appliances (signage players, control panels, occupancy sensors, conferencing codecs, etc.) can be replaced by a single intelligent software platform that effectively encapsulates the meeting ecosystem. And similar to the earlier analogy, as that meeting ecosystem becomes more interconnected and offers more value, it also starts to produce very valuable data. For Mersive’s Solstice & Solstice Cloud, we want to make sure that value is realized for our customers, but it’s just as important to be good stewards of the data.
At Mersive, we refer to this meeting platform data as Teamspace Analytics. Despite its limited rollout, customers have already found significant value:
- Universities use it to understand their students’ BYOD habits, allowing them to tailor educational content to student devices instead of the other way around.
- An enterprise customer saw patterns in peak times of utilization, allowing them to adjust flex IT and Support staffing as needed.
- Several customers have found hidden saturation points where “meeting collisions” result in lost productivity. This can be tricky to find if you’re just looking at booked rates, as the ability to compare booked vs utilized is critical.
- And of course, understanding the effectiveness of a space can facilitate a more effective workforce. Our customers have found that meetings tend to be 22% shorter in huddle rooms than in conference rooms, but have 31% more content shared per hour of use.
In conjunction with the Solstice Pod, Solstice Cloud is in a unique position to analyze a diverse collection of meeting-oriented data and turn it into valuable insights for our customers, all while respecting user privacy.
Which leads us to our overarching ethos on data collection, stewardship, and responsibility:
Collect data in order to provide value back to the individuals producing it.
The ethos is intentionally simple and rooted in the basic social contract of fair exchange. For example, I don’t mind when my rideshare app collects my location because I understand how it benefits me… but I don’t want it to track my location all the time, that would overstep the agreement.
For Solstice Cloud Analytics, similar direct lines can be drawn to customer benefit (I’ll go into more detail in subsequent blog posts) and while that value will evolve over time, the following principles will remain consistent:
1. No personally identifiable information (PII) is collected for Solstice end users.
While user engagement is very important to understand, the identity of those users will always remain anonymous.
2. Solstice Cloud is GDPR compliant as a Data Controller.
Even though we don’t collect PII, we comply with GDPR regulations as if we do.
3. The content you share to the screen never leaves your network.
The data collected for analytics purposes can be characterized as metadata on meetings, devices, and configuration, it will never look into your content.