Microsoft announced the launch of Microsoft Viva, an employee experience platform designed to help people connect, focus, learn, and thrive at work. In this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, I was joined by my partner and fellow analyst Daniel Newman to talk all things Microsoft Viva.
For starters, a solution like Microsoft Viva is important on a number of fronts — we’ve collectively adapted to hybrid work, business leaders are cognizant of and trying to avoid burnout, and are focused on helping people feel more connected and supported by the organization, and they are also recognizing the importance of learning management and creating a culture of continuous learning within organizations (and making learning easy).
The Microsoft Viva Experience platform is comprised of a number of components that are conveniently centered around connection, insights, learning, and topics. Our conversation included a brief snapshot of each, including:
The Viva Connections part of the Microsoft Viva Employee Experience Platform is the “gateway to modern employee experience” that is personalized and appears in the apps and devices employees use every day (like Teams). Viva Connections gives people a curated, company-branded experience that pulls together news, conversations, and other resources. It designed to be quick and easy to use, and users can publish content from SharePoint, Yammer, or Microsoft steam, to a single feed and post the external news and content organizations want employees to see (and use).
Of special interest to me, was the ability to use the Viva Connections platform to reach specific departments, regions, or roles within the company, by audience targeting or bring attention to important items in the feed by way of “boosting” so that items appear on top of the news feed until read or they have accomplished a certain number of impressions.
Microsoft Viva Topics
Microsoft Viva Topics uses AI to help empower people within the organization with knowledge and expertise in various apps to connect, manage, protect, and share that knowledge across systems and teams. Note that Viva Topics is available today for Microsoft commercial customers.
Viva Topics is intended to help manage the sea of information that employees encounter and must deal with on a daily basis. Microsoft data indicates that employees on average spend more than an hour a day looking for or recreating info that already exists within the organization, more than triple what they spent five years ago. To be fair, there’s more information now, but still, that’s a lot of wasted time and incredibly frustrating.
Onboarding, skill development, and knowledge drain are key issues business leaders face and Viva Topics is intended to address that. It appears as though this has grown out of the Project Cortex Preview program, launched about two years ago, a program in which Microsoft customers participated to help shape the product. Companies like Arla Foods, Unilever, Siemens Healthcare, and Mott MacDonald have been using Viva Topics in their organizations and have participated along the way in fine-tuning this product.
Microsoft Viva Learning
Microsoft Viva Learning is yet another component of Microsoft Viva platform, and is an app for Microsoft Teams that is in private preview at this time.
In June of 2020, Microsoft announced a goal of helping 25 million people around the world gain the digital skills they need to be successful. Now the goal is to extend beyond supporting jobseekers to helping support people’s success once they are hired.
Daniel and I know from firsthand experience as well as our own research that successful digital transformation journeys (and successful organizations) rely on an organizations’ commitment to create a culture of continuous learning. That’s exactly what Microsoft Viva Learning is designed to do.
Viva Learning features a central hub where people can discover, share, assign, and learn from best-in-class content libraries, including LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, third party content providers, and an organization’s own custom content, all geared to make learning on a daily basis a standard thing.
Teams and groups can set up their own learning tabs, and learning is not only personalized, but learning content is also centralized and easily accessed.
In developing Viva Learning, Microsoft, partnered with Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, and edX to integrate world-class content into Viva Learning.
It’s also exciting to see that some of the biggest learning management system providers SAP SuccessFactors, Cornerstone, OnDemand, Saba have announced their intent to integrate with Viva Learning.
Microsoft Viva Insights
Last but never least, we touched on Microsoft Viva Insights, the final part of Microsoft’s Viva employee experience platform. This offering is focused on employee wellbeing, which enables productivity, innovation, and engagement at work. Why is this relevant? Burnout and stress are increasingly more commonplace today — and that’s a problem, and learning and development can play an important role in reducing stress and burnout. LinkedIn Learning’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report showed that 94% of employees surveyed said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. Boom.
Equally relevant to this conversation, a December 2020 study found that 75% of US employees reported experiencing burnout, 70% reported higher stress, and more than half reported elevated levels of anxiety. All of these things inevitably lead to a lack of engagement, and non-engaged, unhappy employees generally don’t stay.
As part of the Microsoft Viva Insights platform, the Glint Microsoft Power BI dashboard plays a role. Glint is a “People Success Platform” that was acquired by LinkedIn in 2018 and which uses real-time data, “people data,” to help employees increase employee engagement and develop their people.
Microsoft Viva Insights for Teams is designed around fostering a culture where people can thrive. Featuring a dashboard designed to gauge how employees are feeling, the hope is that leaders can use de-identified and aggregated collaboration data to see “how people are working” and get a sense of how engaged and connected they are overall.
Personal wellbeing experiences, medication, mindfulness experiences, collaboration within the organization, engagement with others, all of these things are able to be monitored in a personal yet private manner, and hopefully help everyone — individuals, managers, and leaders — thrive.
What we share here in these show notes and in our conversation in the webcast just scratches the surface on all things related to Microsoft Viva’s employee experience platform. Not surprising seeing this coming from Microsoft, and it’s a perfect addition to the M365 platform, easily accessible by all — from enterprises to small to midsize businesses. It will be interesting for our team to watch how this plays out.