March 30, 2020

Five New Features Including an Integration with Office 365

Andrew Pitts

A number of new features have recently gone live in Polinode so we wanted to pull them all together and summarize them for you. They are all designed to make organizational network analysis even easier and more powerful!

1. Office 365 Integration

As a platform, Polinode allows you to conduct both active organizational network analysis (where you ask respondents questions like “who do you turn to for advice?”) as well as passive organizational network analysis (where you use communication data such as email metadata). For quite a few years, organizations have successfully used Polinode for both types of organisational network analysis. Typically, where the platform has been used for passive organizational network analysis, organizations have prepared their own communication data as networks and uploaded that prepared data to Polinode. With this new integration though it’s possible for an admin user to simply provide authorization for Polinode to access Office 365 metadata and the platform will then automatically collect and store this metadata on a rolling daily basis. This data is then available to run queries against with these queries then producing interactive networks, i.e. networks that a user can then calculate different measures of centrality, community detection and brokerage on. The screenshot below illustrates our new Office 365 add-on and how easy it is to connect (note that you can click on any of the images below for larger versions).    

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And here we have a screenshot to illustrate the type of networks that this new add-on allows you to produce.

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The Office 365 add-on has been designed in a very flexible way, that is to say:

  1. It can be activated for any subset of users within an organisation, for example just a team, division or location;
  2. It can be setup with a custom retention period such as 90 days or 180 days - beyond this retention period the data is automatically deleted;
  3. The add-on can be setup for any or all of email communication data, calendar data and Microsoft’s People API (which surfaces the top few relationships that each individual has at any one time based on a variety of signals);
  4. You can specify specific domains and limit the data saved to just those domains. For example, if you are only interested in internal communication you can ensure that only internal communication metadata is saved; and
  5. When running queries you can specify specific emails or domains to either include or exclude from the resulting network. Suppose you are only interested in how a specific team is communicating with a set of client organisations - it’s possible to run a query with that in mind.  

The other very important point here is that the add-on has been designed with both information security and privacy considerations in mind. We think it’s important to point out that the permissions being granted when using the add-on are for metadata only...Polinode does not (and cannot) access any communication content.   If you would like to learn more about the add-on or have it activated for your account please get in touch at info@polinode.com!

2. Advanced Community Detection

Polinode has had a community detection algorithm for a long time - it’s one of our core or “Basic” metrics and it partitions any network into groups of nodes that are more closely connected with each other than they are with the rest of the network. More recently though there has been some demand from users for a more advanced version of this community detection algorithm, one where you have some control over the size of the resulting communities. One of the main reasons for this is the use of organizational network analysis to help inform and guide the formal structure of an organization, i.e. to help group people into teams that work together.

We have responded to these requests by adding the new “Advanced Communities” metric that you will find under Advanced Metrics. This metric takes two optional inputs - resolution and max size. A resolution equal to 1 will give a result that is similar to our standard or basic communities metric, if resolution is less than one though it will result in a smaller number of communities that will be larger on average and if the resolution parameter is greater than 1 then the result will be a larger number of communities that are on average smaller. The max size parameter may be used either together with the resolution parameter or left blank. If a value is set for the max size parameter then none of the resulting communities will have more than that number of nodes in them.

To illustrate we have calculated Advanced Communities for the same email network that we showed above but this time with the resolution parameter set to 2 - you will see that there are now 14 communities rather than the 9 communities that were previously found.

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3. Two New Overall Network Metrics

Polinode really has three types of metrics available within the explore view - there are node metrics (under the metrics icon), edge metrics (also under the metrics icon) and overall network metrics (under the reports icon). We have had a few overall network metrics for quite some time - the total number of nodes, edges and the density of the network for example. We’ve recently added two more of these overall network metrics under reports:  

  1. Average Path Length: This is the average length of all the shortest paths across the network, i.e. all pairs of shortest paths between the nodes. The smaller this number the easier it is for nodes in the network to reach each other on average.
  2. Diameter: This is the length of the longest shortest path in the network. Again, a smaller number indicates that the network is more connected.  

The screenshot below illustrates where these new metrics can be found. You will see that there is a Calculate button next to each of them. Both of these new metrics are computationally intensive so, unlike the existing metrics, they are not automatically recalculated each time you open the Reports dialogue. But it’s simple to calculate them - just click on the Calculate button and wait a few seconds. The other important point here is that these metrics, like all of the metrics in Polinode, are dynamic to any filters that have been applied. That is to say that they will be calculated or recalculated just for the visible network only, i.e. you can calculate the metrics separately say for a “female only” network and for a “male network” just to illustrate.                 

4. Combining Networks Together

The most popular feature request that we have received in terms of the number of votes for it has been the ability to combine different networks together easily within Polinode - see here the Feature Requests section of the Polinode community site. Why has this been in such demand? Well mostly when running an active organisational network analysis and producing multiple networks from the survey, for example a knowledge network and a mentorship network, users have wanted to be able to easily combine those networks into a single network. Well the good news is now you can! The screenshot below illustrates the new Combining Networks Add-on which is available now for all Enterprise and Partner users of Polinode at no additional cost.             

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5. Meltwater Integration

The fifth and final new feature we are looking at today is another new add-on - the Meltwater add-on. Meltwater is a media monitoring and social network listening company. It provides media monitoring and related services to PR, social and marketing teams. Included in Meltwater’s functionality is the ability to search and export historical Twitter data. Out integration allows anyone with a Meltwater account to upload these exports of historical Twitter data to Polinode and Polinode will then turn the data into interactive networks showing the interactions between the different Twitter accounts for the relevant search term and period that the Twitter export was created for. In summary a very powerful and easy way to use Polinode for social network analysis!  

If you have any questions about any of these new features or integrations please don’t hesitate to get in touch - either via info@polinode.com for new accounts or support@polinode.com for existing accounts. We look forward to hearing from you, including your future suggestions for how we can continue to make Polinode even more powerful!

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