On Thursday, Microsoft announced the launch of Microsoft Viva, a new employee experience platform designed to help streamline communication, facilitate learning, foster connection and allow people to thrive in the future of work.
Integrated with Microsoft Teams and Office 365 apps, Microsoft Viva appears to be in direct response to the growing demand for software that eases workflows for those operating remotely. This is particularly pertinent, given the vast number of professionals who now work from home and will remain doing so in the extended pandemic and beyond. This latest addition also signifies Microsoft’s bid to drive further into the expanding HR and employee experience software market, with Microsoft describing Viva as “the first EXP built for the digital era.”
“We have participated in the largest at-scale remote work experiment the world has seen, and it has had a dramatic impact on the employee experience,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a video announcement of the new platform.
“Every organization will require a unified employee experience from onboarding and collaboration to continuous learning and growth. Viva brings together everything an employee needs to be successful, from day one, in a single, integrated experience directly in Teams.”
Initially, the platform will encompass four key modules: Viva Connections, Viva Insights, Viva Learning, and Viva Topics:
Citing research from their Work Trend Index, Microsoft highlights that nearly 60 percent of workers report feeling less connected to their team since pivoting to remote work. This is particularly true, they say, for employees who were onboarded remotely and have never met their colleagues in-person. Indeed, a lack of connectedness has been a persistent concern and complaint from those working remotely, particularly since the crisis hit. To help remedy this, Viva Connections is “a gateway to your digital workplace,” one that provides customizable content and allows leaders to communicate with employees through town halls and meetings, while employees can use their Viva Connections dashboard to keep track of company news, policy or benefits changes and other important resources.
An exciting development for the field of analytics and data-driven insights, this module promises to bring “new personal well-being experiences, insights, and recommended actions from Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics into the flow of people’s work in Microsoft Teams.”
By allowing leaders to see how and when their people like to work, they can build better well-being offerings and even know when to step in at the early stage signs of burnout.
Viva customers can also use data from third-parties like Zoom, Slack, Workday, and SAP SuccessFactors to build these insights.
According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if they invested in their learning and development. With that in mind, Viva Learning sets out to “make learning a natural part of both every employee’s daily work and company culture.” Through this centralized hub, workers can access microlearning courses, training programs and track their completions. For this module, Microsoft will be building on new and existing partnerships with providers such as Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, edX, Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, and SAP SuccessFactors.
Described as “a Wikipedia with AI superpowers for your organization,” the Viva Topics module uses AI to categorize organisation-wide expertise and harness it for use in relevant projects, products, processes, and more. While people go about their day using apps such as Teams, Office and SharePoint, topic cards will automatically appear over complex or unfamiliar terms, enabling the user to quickly gain understanding without having to search for that specific knowledge.
The Era of the Employee Experience Platform
With Microsoft Viva, the company is making rapid inroads into the expanding and profitable marketplace of Employee Experience Platforms. As industry analyst Josh Bersin observed in a recent whitepaper ‘The Employee Experience Platform Market Has Arrived,’ “I have never seen such a massive proliferation of technology hit the enterprise at once. I am tracking more than 1,400 vendors that sell new tools for recruitment, performance management, wellbeing, learning, employee surveying, and other HR applications.”
Writing in a statement today, Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365 commented that “organizations spend over $300 billion a year on employee experience. That number includes employee development and training, benefits and wellbeing, and a whole host of employee experience technologies.” Spataro added, however, that many of these tech services and resources are “fragmented, hard to find, and disruptive to the flow of work.”
For Microsoft, the Viva platform signals a “new approach and a new category of technology solutions called employee experience platforms (EXP).”
As the use of Cloud systems has expanded, so too has the ability of organizations to respond to their employee needs and create a more holistic experience for the complex services, demands and priorities of their workforce.
Microsoft Viva will bring together everything from communication resources to knowledge-sharing and learning solutions to connection-building and more into a single, accessible portal.
In many ways, the development and application of platforms such as Microsoft Viva represent not only a change in Employee Experience software, but a revolutionizing of how we frame the entire idea of a ‘workplace,’ particularly in the era of remote and virtual. “We need to stop thinking about work as a place, and start thinking about how to maintain culture, connect employees, and harness human ingenuity in a hybrid world,” Spataro added. Microsoft Viva looks to be a powerful platform that both responds to and is shaped by the ever-changing needs of this hybrid world we now live in.
To find out more about Microsoft Viva, watch this video: