Ben Waber

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President and CEO of Humanyze; Visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab; Former Researcher, Harvard Business School

Biography

We are living in the era of “Big Data.” But are companies really understanding, measuring and monetizing the abundance of information at their disposal? Dr. Ben Waber, visiting scientist the MIT Media Lab and president and CEO of the analytics software company Humanyze, is a leading expert on how organizations can better collect employee data and act upon it in a useful, profitable and ethical manner. Having performed research and analysis within multiple leading companies including Bank of America, BCG, and LG, Waber teaches leaders how to leverage technology and behavioral insights to make employees more productive and happy, creating a dynamic, positive, innovative workplace.

Waber, author of the book “People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work” (FT Press Analytics, May 2013), shows managers how to measure privacy preserving metrics on the movements and interactions of workers and compare them to higher- or lower-performing employees. In doing so, they can draw vital conclusions about what kind of incentives and working arrangements achieve better results. This revolution in workplace data gathering will, says Waber, ultimately allow businesses to more effectively trial key changes and directly measure the results before introducing them company-wide, improving managers’ ability to implement effective strategies for innovation. Waber’s engaging keynotes help organizations in the present grasp what kind of data they should be evaluating to stay ahead of the curve and increase productivity. He also offers insights on how organizations can instill a company-wide culture that constantly and rapidly tests new hypotheses and improves upon existing policies.

Crucial to Waber’s vision of the future of work is a framework for collecting data that maximizes employee happiness and respects privacy rights. As more companies track the daily movements of their workers, employers should bear more of the burden of abiding by rules and regulations on privacy that are today generally only applied to the collection of consumer information, says Waber. This approach is not in conflict with the goal of increasing productivity, but complementary to it; Waber’s research shows that employees who are happy and feel their rights are being respected do more for their companies than those who feel excessively constrained. It makes financial sense for firms to impose privacy regulations on themselves. Waber offers guidelines on the limits of how data should be collected and how findings should be used.

Waber, a former senior researcher at Harvard Business School, received his Ph.D. from MIT for his work with Alex “Sandy” Pentland’s Human Dynamics group. He has been featured in Wired, NPR, The New York Times and other outlets, and has given invited talks at Google, EMC, and Samsung.

Ben Waber is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

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Waber, Ben

Biography

We are living in the era of “Big Data.” But are companies really understanding, measuring and monetizing the abundance of information at their disposal? Dr. Ben Waber, visiting scientist the MIT Media Lab and president and CEO of the analytics software company Humanyze, is a leading expert on how organizations can better collect employee data and act upon it in a useful, profitable and ethical manner. Having performed research and analysis within multiple leading companies including Bank of America, BCG, and LG, Waber teaches leaders how to leverage technology and behavioral insights to make employees more productive and happy, creating a dynamic, positive, innovative workplace.

Waber, author of the book “People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work” (FT Press Analytics, May 2013), shows managers how to measure privacy preserving metrics on the movements and interactions of workers and compare them to higher- or lower-performing employees. In doing so, they can draw vital conclusions about what kind of incentives and working arrangements achieve better results. This revolution in workplace data gathering will, says Waber, ultimately allow businesses to more effectively trial key changes and directly measure the results before introducing them company-wide, improving managers’ ability to implement effective strategies for innovation. Waber’s engaging keynotes help organizations in the present grasp what kind of data they should be evaluating to stay ahead of the curve and increase productivity. He also offers insights on how organizations can instill a company-wide culture that constantly and rapidly tests new hypotheses and improves upon existing policies.

Crucial to Waber’s vision of the future of work is a framework for collecting data that maximizes employee happiness and respects privacy rights. As more companies track the daily movements of their workers, employers should bear more of the burden of abiding by rules and regulations on privacy that are today generally only applied to the collection of consumer information, says Waber. This approach is not in conflict with the goal of increasing productivity, but complementary to it; Waber’s research shows that employees who are happy and feel their rights are being respected do more for their companies than those who feel excessively constrained. It makes financial sense for firms to impose privacy regulations on themselves. Waber offers guidelines on the limits of how data should be collected and how findings should be used.

Waber, a former senior researcher at Harvard Business School, received his Ph.D. from MIT for his work with Alex “Sandy” Pentland’s Human Dynamics group. He has been featured in Wired, NPR, The New York Times and other outlets, and has given invited talks at Google, EMC, and Samsung.

Ben Waber is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Creating a Data-Driven Enterprise

Technology and access to data have advanced by leaps and bounds, and yet many companies fail to leverage these developments in effective decision-making. This has more to do with company culture than lack of technical expertise, says Ben Waber. Having the technology is not enough if you cannot continuously use it to gather new insights and information, leading to better strategies for motivating employees and developing the workplace of the future. In this presentation, Waber draws on his own experiences and research to show organizations what kind of data they should be collecting and how they should be using it to promote growth, productivity and employee happiness.

Numbers Make Sense: How to Quantify Corporate Culture

Many business gurus promote the importance of having an innovative, dynamic company culture that perpetually experiments and makes breakthroughs. But how does one move beyond theory to the actual practice of measuring which cultural traits and habits produce success, and which ones do not? Ben Waber has used digital data and sensors to chart how employees behave and interact at given organizations and compared them with their colleagues elsewhere, while measuring the performance rates of both. By utilizing technology and data collection, Waber has successfully distilled “culture” to a quantitative subject, as if it were the measurement of productivity or profits. In this presentation, Waber reveals how to measure culture and analyze results to inform decision-making. He also communicates the best ways to entrench a corporate culture that continually values and acts upon the use of employee data to develop new approaches and policies.

Using Data to Forecast the Future of Work

As companies adapt to such changes as automation and the gig economy, they will come to rely ever more on data to inform their strategic decision-making. Ben Waber, a foremost authority on using technology and data to make workplace decisions in the present, is turning his attention to the future. In this presentation, Waber offers insightful projections on how the workplace of the future will differ from that of today, based on the data which he collects as a researcher and in his professional capacity as CEO of Humanyze. He equips managers and leaders with the tools and perspective they need to effectively guide their organizations into a transformed 21st century.

Reconciling Big Data and Employee Privacy

Debates over privacy rights in the era of Big Data have focused mainly on protecting consumer data from the big tech firms. Ben Waber argues that the biggest digital information collections of the future will occur within organizations: employers monitoring their own employees. However useful, this practice is still evolving and is also relatively unregulated. Waber is concerned for good reason: his own research has contributed to companies’ ability to learn more about their employees’ behavior through tracking technology. In this presentation, Waber outlines his ethical framework for ensuring data gathering serves the interests of employers and employees alike. These insights are of the utmost benefit to companies that wish to develop their own privacy guidelines, and policymakers and legal experts interested in the future shape of regulation within this field.

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