Microsoft unwraps Viva updates and makes suite available for purchase
In February, Microsoft launched Viva, an AI-powered information hub for enterprises. Nearly a year in, the company is enhancing Viva with new premium features to “help individuals and managers collaborate more effectively,” according to Microsoft 365 corporate VP, Jared Spataro.
“The employee experience is no longer defined by or tethered to a physical location. We need new ways to keep employees engaged and informed, all in the flow of work,” Spataro said in a blog post published during Microsoft’s Ignite 2021 conference. “That’s where Microsoft Viva comes in.”
Microsoft Viva is now available for purchase as a suite, Spataro added, optionally with an add-on for Microsoft’s Glint HR platform.
Viva Insights is one of the four modules that make up the Viva platform — the other three being Viva Learning, Viva Connections, and Viva Topics. It draws on data and signals from Teams, Outlook, and other Microsoft 365 apps in addition to Zoom, Slack, Workday, and SAP SuccessFactors to attempt to find patterns in data that might affect work outcomes. For example, Insights’ Stay Connected pane gives employees a way to prioritize time for regular one-on-one meetings and keep up with tasks across emails, chats, and shared documents. On the managerial side, Insights provides admins visibility into work patterns that can lead to burnout and stress, such as meeting overload, too little focus time, or time worked outside employees’ chosen work hours.
Now, Insights will deliver tools by way of the Viva Insights app, a daily briefing, and monthly digest emails to help managers “improve personal habits while fostering team culture.” The tools will be joined by a new “effective meetings experience” that’ll let meeting organizers view personalized insights and suggestions to help improve their meeting habits, Microsoft says. Users will also be able to create and share meeting plans to set team meeting norms, such as shorter meetings by default and always including Teams links. In addition, they’ll be able to take advantage of guided meditations and mindfulness exercises in additional languages (French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish) from Headspace in the Viva Insights app in Teams.
Employee analytics software like Viva can veer into controversial territory. In a survey of remote or hybrid workers, ExpressVPN found that 59% felt stress or anxiety as a result of their employer monitoring them with technology, while another 43% said that any surveillance felt like a violation of trust.
Microsoft asserts that Insights is deidentified and leverages safeguards like data aggregation and minimum sharing thresholds to preserve privacy. In an interview with Fortune in September, Microsoft’s general manager of Viva Insights, Kamal Janardhan said that individual worker data on productivity is provided only to that worker — rather than to their boss — and that managers may receive general productivity scores for their entire team but “[only as] a tool … to see how [people] work and improve their work/life balance and their performance.”
Viva Learning brings together a company’s communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights — serving as a hub where employees can discover, share, assign, and learn from content libraries across LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and third-party content providers. For instance, thanks to integrations with apps like Teams, people can search for and share training from Learning in a chat as they would other types of content. Learning also shows the learning assignments a manager has made, when they’re due, and employees’ reported completion status.
After launching with a few customers and partners earlier this year, Learning is now generally available. Microsoft says that in the coming year, Ally.io — which it recently acquired — will join Viva as a new module to complement Learning and “help people and teams come together to build alignment and achieve better business outcomes.”
Viva Topics leverages AI (including Alexandria) to reason over an organization’s data and automatically organize content and expertise across different systems and teams. The module funnels data into related subjects like projects, products, processes, and customers, so that when employees see an unfamiliar acronym or project in email or chat, they’re able to hover on the word and pop out a topic card with a description and related experts, documents, and videos.
Topics is expanding with updates that’ll become generally available in the coming months. Soon, the module will search across Outlook email and Yammer communities and offer additional ways for managers to oversee knowledge domains, including automatic grouping of related topics into segments, feedback workflows, and usage analytics. Beyond this, Microsoft says that Topics will gain support to crawl knowledge from content written in French, German, and Spanish and create topics built by the taxonomy services of Syntex, Microsoft’s SharePoint-hosted, AI-powered content processing product.
In related news, Syntex is gaining a content assembly feature that uses AI models to turn existing documents into templates, creatable contracts, invoices, spreadsheets, more. A new contract management capability offers standard clause libraries, workflow-driven approvals, automatic classification, and lifecycle management. And Snytex’s natural language searches for documents based on the automatic metadata and extended columns created by Syntex.
Rounding out the Viva updates are new partner integrations in general availability (see below for the list). In addition, admins can now leverage the Microsoft admin center to access setup guides for deploying Viva modules.
- Viva Learning: SAP SuccessFactors, Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, Coursera, Skillsoft, Pluralsight, edX, Udemy, Go1, Infosec, Josh Bersin Academy, Udacity, Harvard Business Review, OpenSesame, and EdCast
- Viva Connections: Qualtrics, ServiceNow, UKG, Talentsoft, StandOut by ADP, Adobe Sign, Moveworks, Lifeworks, Limeade, Tribute, Blue Yonder, Zebra-Reflexis, Workday, DocuSign, EdCast, and Espressive
- Viva Insights: Headspace, Qualtrics, and Glint
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