Microsoft announces Viva, a new employee experience platform integrated in Microsoft Teams

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Microsoft is holding its first digital event of the year this morning where CEO Satya Nadella and Microsoft 365 CVP Jared Spataro announced some important employee experience news. The company is launching today Microsoft Viva, a new employee experience platform that leverages Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft 365 services to help employees learn and grow.

As the world is still dealing with a worldwide pandemic that made remote work the new normal, Microsoft sees the need for Employee Experience Platforms to bring together all the tools that workers need to be successful in a single location.

Microsoft Viva is launching today with different modules available in preview, and the platform will also integrate with third-party solutions such as Zoom, Salesforce, and SAP SuccessFactors, allowing customers to consolidate their existing employee experience investments in Microsoft Viva.

Viva Insights is the first Viva module that is launching in public preview today, with a dedicated app in Microsoft Teams. Viva Insights can help employees stay in touch with colleagues and be more productive by allocating time for regular breaks and focus work. Integrations with the population meditation app Headspace and the virtual commute feature Microsoft announced last year will also be available in the coming months.

Managers can use Viva Insights to get recommendations on how to improve the well-being of their teams, and all data is de-identified by default to guarantee that personal insights are only visible by the employee. Managers can also access a Viva Insights dashboard that integrates employee feedback data from LinkedIn’s Glint, and Viva Insights can also leverage data from Zoom, Workday, and SAP SuccessFactors.

Viva Topics is another Viva module that is now generally available as an add-on to Microsoft 365 commercial plans, and Microsoft 365 CVP Jared Spataro described it as "Wikipedia with AI superpowers for your organization.” The Microsoft Teams app will be able to leverage data from Microsoft 365 as well as third-party services including ServiceNow and Salesforce.

When hovering over a topic in Microsoft Teams, employees will see a topic card with an instant summary of it as well as information about related documents and top subject matter experts. Employees will also be able to open a more detailed topic page that will include all information Viva Topics has collected on the subject.

Viva Learning is a third Viva module that is available in private preview in Microsoft Teams starting today. This app can bring together all learning resources from a company’s content library, as well as content from Microsoft Learn, LinkedIn Learning, and third-party providers including Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, and edX.

Viva Learning will appear as a tab in a Microsoft Teams channel where employees can search for content in the learning library to share with colleagues. Managers can also use Viva Learning to assign courses to employees and view the status of the learning tasks they’ve assigned. Later this year, Viva Learning will also add integrations with new learning management systems such as Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, and SAP SuccessFactors.

Lastly, Viva Connections is the fourth Viva module that Microsoft announced today, but this one will launch in public preview on the desktop in the first half of 2021, with a mobile version to follow later this year. Microsoft 365 CVP Jared Spataro described Viva Connections as “a gateway to your digital workplace,” with the app acting as a curated portal providing access to relevant news, conversations, and other resources from SharePoint and Yammer.

Viva Connections in Microsoft Teams will be customizable with a personalized feed and dashboard for specific roles within the company. With remote work being on the rise, Microsoft believes Viva Connections will work as a digital replacement for company town halls and events, and help workers feel more connected to their 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,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said today. “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.”

With analysts evaluating the growing Employee Experience Platforms category at $300 billion in annual spend, Microsoft seems has a good opportunity to stand out with Viva, a platform that leverages the increasingly popular team collaboration platform that is Microsoft Teams. The app has been growing very fast since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Microsoft announced that it had crossed 115 million Teams daily active users last fall.

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