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Microsoft Viva: Microsoft unveils new employee experience platform

By Shannon Williams
Tue 9 Feb 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Microsoft has unveiled Microsoft Viva, an employee experience platform designed to bring tools for employee engagement, learning, wellbeing and knowledge discovery, directly into the flow of people’s work. 

According to the tech giant, Viva is designed to "help employees learn, grow and thrive", with new experiences that integrate with the productivity and collaboration capabilities in Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams.

“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,” says Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. 

“Every organisation 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," he says.

The announcement comes as economic and social trends are driving durable changes in workforce engagement. Amid the shift to an increasingly distributed and digital work environment, demand has grown for solutions that support corporate culture, knowledge discovery, on-the-job learning and employee wellbeing. 

Analysts size the nascent Employee Experience Platforms (EXP) category at $300 billion in annual spend. It spans what is today a fragmented market of services, infrastructure and hundreds of tools, many that go undiscovered and underutilised by employees at the companies that have invested in them.

“As the world of work changes, the next horizon of innovation will come from a focus on creativity, engagement and wellbeing so organisations can build cultures of resilience and ingenuity,” says Jared Spataro, corporate vice president, Microsoft 365. 

“Our vision is to deliver a platform for the employee experience that helps organisations create a thriving culture with engaged employees and inspiring leaders.”

Microsoft is announcing an initial set of modules in Viva that will provide built-in capabilities, integrations from a strong and growing ecosystem of Viva partners, and platform extensibility that will enable customers to integrate their existing employee experience systems and tools with Viva to make them more accessible and discoverable to employees:

According to Microsoft:

  • Viva Connections provides a personalised gateway to your digital workplace where employees can access internal communications and company resources like policies and benefits and participate in communities like employee resource groups, all from a single customisable app in Microsoft Teams. The Connections app for Teams will be available on desktop in public preview the first half of 2021 with a mobile app coming later this year.
  • Viva Insights gives individuals, managers and leaders personalised and actionable insights that help everyone in an organisation thrive. Personal experiences and insights, visible only to the employee, help individuals protect time for regular breaks, focused work and learning, as well as strengthen relationships with their colleagues. Managers and leaders can see trends at team and organisation level, as well as recommendations to better balance productivity and wellbeing. The insights are aggregated and identified by default to maintain personal privacy. In addition, a new dashboard allows organisations to combine employee feedback from LinkedIn’s Glint with collaboration data from Viva Insights, enabling leaders to more accurately identify where teams may be struggling, proactively adjust work norms, and then quantify the impact of those changes over time. In addition to using data and signals from Microsoft apps, customers will also be able to incorporate data from third-party services like Zoom, Slack, Workday and SAP SuccessFactors. The Viva Insights app in Teams and the new Glint and Viva Insights dashboard are now available in public preview.
  • Viva Learning makes training and professional development opportunities more discoverable and accessible in the flow of work. It aggregates all the learning resources available to an organszation in one place, including content from LinkedIn Learning; Microsoft Learn; third-party providers including Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight and edX; as well as an organisation’s own content library. From traditional learning courses to microlearning content, users can discover, share, assign and track a wide variety of learning as a natural part of the workday. The Viva Learning app is now available in private preview, and starting later this year Viva Learning will offer integrations with leading learning management systems, including Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba and SAP SuccessFactors.
  • Viva Topics delivers a knowledge discovery experience that helps people connect to information and experts across the company. Using AI to reason over a customer’s Microsoft 365 data, and with the ability to integrate knowledge from a variety of third-party services such as ServiceNow and Salesforce, Viva Topics automatically surfaces topic cards within conversations and documents across Microsoft 365 and Teams. Clicking on a card opens a topic page with related documents, conversations, videos and people. Viva Topics is now generally available as an add-on to Microsoft 365 commercial plans.
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