Jeff Meyer serves as Executive Director of Innovation for ThreeWill, bringing leadership on consistently delivering great experiences to our clients, partners, and associates. In this role, he leads relationship building with prospects, clients, and alliance partners.
Microsoft is leading the way in a new enterprise solution category with the introduction of Viva, an Employee Experience Platform (EXP). Last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Corporate VP of Microsoft 365 Jared Spataro announced the platform designed to “reimagine the employee experience.” Microsoft estimates billions are spent every year on collaboration, knowledge management, training, and support with hundreds of vendors. Viva is a result of investments Microsoft has made in search, knowledge management, learning, and analytics; complimented by partnerships with many leading application vendors. The platform, or so-called “suite of applications”, will be presented in Microsoft Teams via four components: Viva Connections, Viva Insights, Viva Learning, and Viva Topics – with more on the way. Viva is designed to integrate data and applications into a personalized feed and dashboard across your digital workplace.
The impact of COVID-19 accelerated the need to find a better way to improve the employee experience overnight. Satya Nadella said, “We have participated in the largest, at scale, remote work experiment the world has seen. As the world recovers, there is no going back. Flexibility in when, where, and how we work will be key.” It has been nearly a year, and in that time, we learned a lot. This helped us identify what is missing when we cannot convene in person regularly. We became our own technical support. We missed our casual hallway chats. And, we learned about video meeting fatigue, didn’t we? If this is “the new normal”, we need to fix some things. Jared Spataro reveals, “We need to stop thinking about work as a place, and start thinking about how to maintain the culture, connect employees, and harness human ingenuity in a hybrid world.”
We, here at ThreeWill agree, work is an activity, not a place. This vision is clear, we need innovation to execute the strategy. Viva is the innovative framework to help us achieve your business outcomes in “the new normal” of the hybrid digital workplace.
What is an Employee Experience Platform?
While a myriad of solutions in the marketplace tout improved employee experiences, the truth of the matter is none of them solve all the issues. It is complicated and messy. Large organizations may have multiple collaboration solutions, learning environments, reference sites, sales forecasting/lead tracking software, ERP systems, meeting and chat tools, finance, payroll, service management, planning, project management, file sharing, benefits administration, shipping, retail, logistics, knowledge management, and call center applications. You get the picture. Relocate your workers to home or elsewhere, as we basically did overnight last year, and business systems quickly became disjointed and troublesome. An Employee Experience Platform brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights into an integrated environment to empower people to be their best, from anywhere according to a blog post from Jared Spataro of Microsoft. He adds they are introducing Microsoft Viva, the first EXP built for the digital era.
The Four Components of Viva Today:
Based in SharePoint and accessed in Teams, Viva Connections is designed to be the single-entry point for employee engagement and internal communications. More than half of workers feel less connected since remote work became the norm. Connections will be a destination for news, town halls, resource groups, communities, conversations, and collaboration. It features personalized feeds and dashboards and can be customized for specific roles for a comprehensive view of just the resources you need.
Developed from Microsoft’s study of productivity measures and the eventual controversy of the Productivity Score. Having a manager examine metadata collected from software and services on individual employees was not a good idea. Viva Insights maintains the changes made after those criticisms. Personal insights are visible only to the employee, while insights for managers and leaders are aggregated and de-identified by default to protect individual privacy.” says Spataro. Insights is powered by Microsoft MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics, so expect to see the features to help employees stay connected to coworkers, take time for breaks, reserve focus time, and invest in learning. For managers, Insights can help see if a team is suffering burnout, need to set boundaries or focus on priorities. Company leaders can leverage Insights to understand trends, wellbeing, and the effect of a hybrid workplace on culture. There is also a dashboard for customers using LinkedIn’s Glint to understand how people work and how people feel from survey data. Look for the opportunities to leverage data from third-party solutions like Slack, Workday, ServiceNow, SAP SuccessFactors, or Zoom as integration into the Viva platform will be possible.
The Viva Learning component was announced as the “Learning App for Teams” by Microsoft last year before Viva was on our radar. Initially, it will combine content from LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn and the option to integrate with other Learning Management Systems, such as CornerStone, Skillsoft, Coursera, edX, SAP SuccessFactors, or PluralSight. The list is expected to grow as other vendors jump on the bandwagon. As a central hub for learning right in Teams, employees can discover, share, and learn from content libraries mentioned above or custom content unique to your organization. Managers can assign learning to employees and track results. Statistics point to educational opportunities as a key factor in attracting and retaining employees, so including Learning in an Employee Experience Platform is essential.
Viva Topics leverages work Microsoft has been doing with SharePoint Syntex and Project Cortex. For more than two years, the company has diligently invested in code to crawl through emails, documents, and data to identify information and potential experts in the company. Topics of interest and experts on those topics can then be intelligently linked to your work as suggestions or “topic cards” to help you connect to helpful information or people in your organization. This component includes Topic Cards, Topic Pages, and Topic Centers developed as part of Cortex. Hovering over a word or phrase in-app may then deliver content or recommend an expert automatically. Topics applies AI to empower people with knowledge and expertise harvested automatically from your organization’s data and experts. Viva Topics delivers organizational intelligence with connected thinking.
At ThreeWill, we coined the phrase, “Work Together Better” in 2006 and have devoted our services to improving collaboration since that time. In the last few years, we have helped our clients deliver improved employee experiences and engagement by leveraging Microsoft 365 and all the digital workplace capabilities it delivers. In 2020, we helped over 500,000 people transition from the office to a remote working environment without missing a beat. More than ever, we are committed to helping our clients Work Together Better. The announcement of Viva empowers ThreeWill to deliver even greater impact and value from the Microsoft Cloud. By leveraging its own existing apps and services in new ways, our clients will get more value from their investment in Microsoft 365. But that’s not all, since Viva is a platform, not an application or service, organizations can include a multitude of their other applications in Viva Employee Experience too. It is exciting to see the possibilities of application integration from a growing list of highly deployed business applications and the insights to be delivered in Viva.
Our client leaders tell us the employee experience has increased importance in these times and we understand agility, integration, insights, and employee wellbeing are integral to their success going forward. We would enjoy helping you experience Microsoft Viva right away. Viva Topics is generally available now. Viva Insights is in public preview and Viva Learning is in private preview currently. Stay tuned for more information on Viva Connections and further innovations throughout 2021. Join us in the journey.
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