Microsoft is launching a new employee experience platform named Microsoft Viva that aims to connect remote employees across the areas of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing.
During the virtual launch announcement earlier this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella explained why the company perceived a need for its new digital employee experience platform, Microsoft Viva.
“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 Nadella. “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.”
Microsoft Viva and its tools will live within Microsoft Teams, further cementing the collaboration and work tool as the center of any workforce using the company’s Microsoft 365 productivity suite.
Viva is initially launching with four modules that all have built-in capabilities. The new employee experience platform will also include integrations from a partner ecosystem, and extensibility which will allow Microsoft 365 customers to bring in tools for improved accessibility and discoverability.
Let’s take a quick look at each of the initial four modules under the Microsoft Viva employee experience platform:
This customizable portal provides access to internal communications channels, company documentation such as policies, benefits information and other related resources. If the company has employee resource groups and discussion boards, customers can provide access to them on the portal.
Availability: Connections app for Microsoft Teams on the desktop is expected to be in public preview the first half of 2021. A mobile app was promised in calendar year 2021.
The underpinnings of Viva Insights were actually announced last year at Microsoft Ignite as a collection of productivity and wellbeing features in Microsoft 365. Although we did not know about the Microsoft Viva employee experience platform at that time, some of that development work was already going public for testing and evaluation.
Microsoft had debuted the virtual commute (meant to nudge workers to ramp up or ramp down their day with productive rituals that could affect a mental separation from work, even if a physical commute wasn’t possible), metrics for employee engagement like after-hours collaboration, focus time, meeting effectiveness and cross-company communication, and a productivity score meant to encourage check-ins on collaboration, meetings and other work outputs.
After concerns last year about this data and privacy, Microsoft clarified that the personal experiences and insights are only visible to the employee themselves. They reiterated this in the Viva announcement. Managers and leaders will see de-identified and aggregated data for their entire team and the organization so they can examine overall trends in productivity and wellbeing. This data analysis will provide those managers and leaders with recommendations to help gain better balance in these two areas.
Availability: Viva Insights app for Microsoft Teams is now available in public preview.
Training and professional development are important attributes for every employee. Viva Learning, like other modules in Microsoft Viva, bring these two learning areas right into the workflow.
Viva Insights brings together all learning resources in an organization into a central repository and includes content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and third-party services such as Skillsoft, Coursera and Pluralsight. If an organization already has an extensive library of training tools and courses, they can also be integrated into Viva Learning.
Later this year integrations with learning management systems from Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba and SAP SuccessFactors will be made available.
Availability: Viva Learning is currently available in private preview.
Here is another element of Viva that was partially available to the public under Microsoft 365’s enterprise search surface. Viva Topics now consolidates this data dynamically using AI and an employee’s Microsoft 365 data in the Microsoft Graph.
The results of this analysis are then displayed in a single Microsoft Teams channel using the Viva Topics app dashboard to consolidate recommendations for training, associated projects, news and other pertinent subject areas.
Pertinent topics can be saved and managed to create a resource list personalized by each employee.
Availability: Viva Topics is generally available as an add-on for Microsoft 365 commercial plans.
Microsoft is not launching their new Microsoft Viva employee experience platform just as a tool to help customers get through the remainder of the pandemic-induced remote working. It is expected that more employees will continue to work remotely after the pandemic ends than worked from home before it all started.
Tools like Microsoft Viva will be critical to helping companies manage their entire workforce to maintain wellbeing, effective collaboration and overall productivity with more and more of the workforce in remote working situations.
Kara Korte, director of product management at TetraVX, a systems integrator and Microsoft Gold Partner, said, "Nearly a year ago we shifted from a workforce with occasional remote capabilities to one that now relies heavily, or even exclusively, on the ability to work from anywhere; this shift is responsible for accelerating the need for organizations to have both cloud and collaboration strategies."
Microsoft is taking full advantage of their Microsoft Teams platform by using it as the continued centralized hub for all work-related collaboration. Microsoft Viva is the latest layer to be added to existing collaboration enhancements and employee metrics.