German startup Bunch is the latest to venture into employee “listening” apps designed to passively track employee communications, analyze the captured data via natural language processing (NLP), and then provide one of a variety of measurements back to the employer. In this case Bunch is providing a score on the amorphous concept of “morale.” Their product is called “Team Analytics.” Bunch reports on their website that they integrate into Slack and Jira for listening purposes, but also use traditional employee surveys as well. Bunch reported to Tech.eu that their analytics are based on “scientifically valid KPIs,” although other than having Stanford organizational behavior professor Charles O’Reilly as their sole advisor, there is no direct reference to validation studies or any particular methodology.
Bunch isn’t the first “listening app” to enter this space, however market adoption has been slow, largely based on obvious discomfort with passively listening as it relates to employee privacy, ethics, and the existence of bias in AI.
Until Bunch integrates beyond Slack and Jira, it will have a limited available market, which may be fine as they attempt to build case studies and prove their science. While, we can see the market moving in the direction, it looks to be on a very slow trajectory, and how and when “listening apps,” will be deemed appropriate is a debate that is really just starting in the market.