Microsoft unveils Viva, its employee-experience platform for Teams

News  /  Published 08 Feb 2021  / 

Calling employee experience the “new ERP,” Microsoft introduced four Viva “modules” that provide access to workplace learning, knowledge, analytics, and corporate info.

Microsoft today unveiled its employee-experience platform, Viva, which the company calls a digital “gateway” for employees to access relevant news, learning, analytics, and knowledge within their organization.

Four Viva “modules” — Connections, Insights, Learning and Topics — will become available in Teams on a staggered basis over the next few months, Microsoft said, leveraging existing capabilities within the Microsoft 365 portfolio, including SharePoint and analytics tools.

The platform is also designed to provide managers and leaders better insights into the well-being and performance of workers, the company said.

“Today we are bringing together collaboration, learning and well-being, in order to create a complete new product category: [the] employee experience platform or EXP,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a pre-recorded briefing ahead of the announcement.

Just as enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications connected accounting and finance to core business operations three decades ago, businesses are now seeking similar alignment with employee-facing systems, Nadella said.

“We believe the same paradigm shift that happened with ERP then will happen with EXP today,” he said. “People operations will no longer be limited to HR, but will be integrated across every aspect of the business in order to improve the overall health and resilience of the organization.

“Every organization will require a unified employee experience, from onboarding and collaboration to continuous learning and growth,” Nadella said. “These can no longer be siloed functions.”

The launch of Viva comes as an enterprise focus on remote workers continues to grow, particularly during the pandemic-driven rise of distributed workforces. Microsoft argues that the “fragmented” market for employee experience tools, covering everything from employee training to benefits, analytics, and other wellness issues, is already worth a staggering $300 billion globally.

“But too often, these technologies are fragmented, hard to find and disruptive to the flow of work,” Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, said in a blog post on Thursday.

As companies prepare to support a large remote workforce post-pandemic, interest in tools that track and manage employee experience is on the rise. SAP’s successful Qualtrics IPO and HR software vendor Workday’s $700 million acquisition of employee engagement analytics provider Peakon are two recent examples. And Salesforce in 2020 launched its employee experience platform Work.com.

“Without a doubt, the pandemic has [placed a] bigger focus on employee experience because of the conditions many had to adapt to,” said Carolina Milanesi, a principal analyst at Creative Strategies. “This, in turn, has highlighted the gaps many organizations had when it comes to support, train[ing] and manage talent. …People realized that the way they worked does not reflect the way we should be working. This, coupled with higher visibility given to working conditions, societal issues and upskilling creates a very good moment for Microsoft to deliver an holistic platform.”

Microsoft’s existing strengths around workplace productivity — and the boom in Teams use, which now has 115 million daily active users — put the vendor in a good position to introduce employee experience capabilities, said David Johnson, a principal analyst at Forrester.

“Microsoft understands how important technology is in people’s daily working lives, that it is a huge part of their overall employee experience,” said Johnson. “Drawing awareness to this and creating solutions to help companies create a better experience for their employees is a good move.”

Milanesi also noted that Microsoft has a wider reach than most companies focused on employee experience. “The biggest advantage that Microsoft has is that it builds on solutions that are already present in many organizations — like Yammer — and leans into a strong cloud- and AI-enabled platform. Other solutions are more limited in scope and do not necessarily get the advantage of plugging into as many resources and will be judged on a much narrower return, which might bring more scrutiny to their cost.”

For Microsoft 365 customers, the launch of Viva could allow IT to play a more active role in managing and coordinating employee experience for their organization.

“Unless we work in HR, most of us don’t use HRIS [HR information system] software every single day; we use Microsoft or other productivity software to get our jobs done,” said Johnson. “What [the Viva launch] is doing is to make the CIO’s role in employee experience much more prominent, something that we’ve been predicting for several years.

“By integrating capabilities into Teams, it puts them more in the flow of people’s work, and most importantly, it raises awareness.”

 

Source: Computer World