Science & Technology

Workplace monitoring platform Aware takes $ 60 million

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knowA platform that analyzes employee behavior across messaging platforms such as Slack, today is a Series C round led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity with the participation of Spring Mountain Capital, Blue Heron Capital, Aros Ventures and the Ohio Innovation Fund. Announced that it has raised $ 60 million. JobsOhio, and Rev1 Ventures. According to the company, the capital raised in excess of $ 8.69 million will be used for product development, sales efforts and employment.

“This particular investment can make great strides towards helping organizations understand human differences across all functions of their business. Rapidly expanding current integration to new platforms. We look forward to capturing and analyzing digital signals from all areas of the organization, “co-founder and CEO Jeff Schumann told VentureBeat in an email. “We started with text conversations, files and images, but we’re already working on audio and video signals.”

Due to the trend towards remote and hybrid work, some companies are increasing their use of surveillance technology to keep their employees on track.Some managers, real or imaginative, are productive Decrease At their company since the staff started working from home during the pandemic. However, these surveillance technologies can compromise the privacy of workers and have a chilling effect on speeches that challenge company policy.

Founded in 2017 by Schumann, James Tsai, Matt Huber and Shawn Domer, Columbus, Ohio-based Aware is an API webhooks Collects and processes communications from platforms such as Facebook’s Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Yammer, and Workplace. The company applies natural language processing and computer vision technology to predict emotions in messages, detect screenshots, identify relationships between messages, and provide context beyond replies.

“Aware continues to be a leader in digital collaboration insights, enabling companies to better understand their employees and manage the risks associated with digital conversation and remote collaboration,” Schumann said in a statement. It states. “How AI continues to adopt Aware as an essential technology [is] The key to building a more transformative business. “

However, some of Aware’s features, such as platform features that retain metadata such as files, edits, deletes, and message locations, can give employees a pause. Aware argues that the ability to collect and normalize conversations from multiple sources can help employers looking for governance and search solutions, but employees say companies can subdue protests. , You may be aware of the worker’s activity as a way to put it under a microscope.

Employee monitoring

Employee monitoring software is a broad category, but generally speaking, it measures employee idle time, accesses webcams, tracks keystrokes and web history, takes screenshots, emails, chats, Includes a program that can record calls.so Research Among employers, ExpressVPN found that 78% use monitoring software such as Time Doctor, Teramind, Wiretap, Interguard, Hubstaff, and ActivTrak to track employee performance and online activity.Perhaps not surprisingly, reports and data Predict By 2027, the global market for remote monitoring software for employees will reach $ 1.3 billion.

Aware has established itself as an HR solution and claims to be able to store all public and private messages, attachments and images sent by employees to recreate conversations in a “friendly” format. It aims to use AI to extract top-level message information and detect inappropriate, offensive, and malicious statements.

In this way, Aware’s platform is similar to Awareness’s Interguard, which allows you to scan emails and messages for specific keywords. Wiretap and Qumran likewise monitor chat forums such as Slack, Yammer and WhatsApp and use AI to identify “harassment, threats and intimidation.”

“”[With Aware, companies can] Automate community management processes, identify incidents of internal threats, [and] Identify toxic employees in the workplace, “reads the company’s website. “”[Customers can] Automatically prevent insecure sharing and enable rules to prevent HIPAA, FINRA, or PCI violations. [They can also] Scan workplace communication content and file shares to identify cases of improper sharing and confidentiality breaches. [And they can protect their] Employees from sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying by monitoring public and private communication. “

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However, algorithm bias can add color to the results of Aware’s evaluation. the study Text-based sentiment analysis systems show that they can show prejudice along the lines of race, ethnicity, and gender. For example, associate blacks with more negative emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness. AI models also tend not to analyze hate speech consistently, and automated moderation platforms “English aligned in black, “Hate speech, slur, and hate speech spelling variations quotes.

Schumann claims that Aware is one of the only companies training models for interactions “in enterprise collaboration.” The end result is AI that is “two to three times more accurate than competitors’ AI and machine learning services” on the market.

“Consciousness is the future of human-centered business. We understand and understand all the human interactions that are taking place within an organization,” Schumann continued. “We are training on a data lake consisting of billions of normalized and anonymized interactions that are growing every day. This gives us a unique advantage. Aware , We are in a position to be very familiar with our customers and their own DNA. “

Beyond the issue of potential bias, research shows that employees are reluctant to support the deployment of software like Aware because they feel they are constantly being monitored.recently Gartner Survey Knowledge workers have found that they are almost twice as likely to pretend to be working after the company has invested in a tracking system.

Workers have a reason to worry.According to recently Complaints Google, submitted by the National Labor Relations Board, spy on its staff before dismissing several, two of whom were in the process of organizing a protest against the company.Call center workers Sign the contract This allows employers to install a home camera to monitor their work.And Amazon delivery drivers say they have surveillance cameras installed in their vans Made them lose their income For reasons beyond their control, such as when cars shut them off.

Of the remote or hybrid workers surveyed in the ExpressVPN paper, 59% said they felt stressed or anxious as a result of employer monitoring. Another 43% said surveillance felt like a breach of trust, and more than half said they would quit their jobs if managers implemented surveillance measures.

Reliant a little

In the United States, employees have little access to legal means when it comes to monitoring software. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 allows businesses to monitor communications for “legal business-related purposes.” While only two states, Connecticut and Delaware, require notification when an employee’s email or internet activity is being monitored, Colorado and Tennessee have written email monitoring policies to companies. Requesting settings.

However, ECPA NS Unless the employee agrees, the employer is password protected and cannot monitor private messages or email accounts sent from personal devices.Last October, retailer H & M fine $ 40 million to store sensitive employee information on topics such as family issues and religious beliefs. Aware, like any other company that offers workplace monitoring software, is bound by this constraint.

Not all employees are against monitoring software. As long as you are aware of monitoring, how and where your data is maintained, and whether your data is shared with other parties or businesses.More than half of the salaried workers surveyed Robert half We were able to accept digital surveillance if we had the benefits of being able to work at the desired time and remotely.Microsoft Viva platform One such professional worker solution is privacy management, such as team anonymized general productivity scores and employee mental health recommendations.

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Like its rivals, it has noticed rapid growth during the pandemic. Revenues have increased “consistently” from 170% to 200% year-on-year over the past few years, and the company employs around 60 people and has more than 1 million licensed users in more than 17 countries. I have

“Our growth is partly [the pandemic] And urgent shifts to remote work. The adoption of technologies such as Teams, Slack, and Zoom was virtually overnight, “Schumann said. “This is the dataset we use, and now these companies need to manage their technology properly, and organizations are primarily focused on understanding remote (or hybrid) employees. It also means that it is very important to focus on employee involvement because of the struggle. [We] We saw an immediate change in growth from our existing customer base, with more than 300% increase in the data created after the onset of forced lockdown. We also found that demand for the Aware platform is growing rapidly, both for risk mitigation capabilities and organizational insights. “

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Workplace monitoring platform Aware takes $ 60 million

https://venturebeat.com/2021/10/13/workplace-monitoring-platform-aware-takes-in-60m/ Workplace monitoring platform Aware takes $ 60 million

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