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Employee Experience Platform – the birth of a category

This week, Microsoft announced the launch of a new product called Viva (disclosure). Actually it is far more than a new product in many ways. It is also an attempt at consolidating technologies in the employee experience category as well as creating the category. It is also a shrewd leverage of the Teams as a Platform strategy which I have written about several times. Since Viva will be served exclusively through Teams, this is a perfect execution of the Teams as a Platform strategy. And it brings the new product and its functionalities into the Flow of Work.

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The only gap I see in this strategy is something I have been advocating for some time now, the extension of the employee experience to the customer experience. I captured this point in the doodle and there’s more on that in several posts I’ve written about this in a page which captures my focus on employee experience as a specialisation. With Microsoft’s extensive capabilities in this field through Dynamics 365, I cannot imagine that gap is not soon going to be plugged.

Now for a summary of the announcements, much of which is for my benefit as I sense make on behalf of my customers who I am currently and will continue to be working with on this exciting new direction.

From an announcement video I have summarised key points from the two key presenters, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft and Jared Spataro, CVP Microsoft 365. I have only chosen the most pertinent bits to me in relation to the title of this post. But first you should read through this awesome synopsis from long time employee experience pundit and Microsoft watcher and advisor, Josh Bersin.

Satya Nadella

We’re participating in the largest, at-scale remote work experiment the world has seen and it has had a dramatic impact on the employee experience. Today, we think about the next evolution of work across three vectors: collaboration, learning, and wellbeing. Thirty years ago, ERP systems were able to connect accounting and finance to the core business operations of the organization. Redefining business processes, managerial doctrine and ultimately firm performance.

We believe the same paradigm shift that happened with ERP then will happen with EXP today. 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.

These can no longer be siloed functions. A world of flexible work creates new challenges. How do you keep everyone connected to your mission and sense of purpose? How do you create and sustain culture digitally? How do you onboard new talent? How do you help them learn and grow? How do you ensure they always are collaborating with the right people?

Addressing these challenges and incorporating solutions into everyday workflow tools is more critical than ever. That’s why today, we’re announcing Microsoft Viva.

Jared Spataro

Today, organizations spent over $300 billion a year on employee experience, 300 billion that’s a really big number. It includes employee development and training, benefits, and wellbeing, and a whole host of other employee experience technologies that in most cases are fragmented, hard to find, and disruptive to the flow of work.

With Microsoft Viva, today we marked the first major step for a new kind of employee experience that’s designed for the digital era. Viva digitally reimagines company culture, employee well-being, knowledge sharing and learning for the hybrid work world.

Viva is powered by the full breadth and depth of Microsoft 365 and is experienced primarily through Microsoft Teams, and with a strong and growing ecosystem of Viva partners and the fact that Teams is an open and extensible platform, it’s easy to integrate all of the systems and tools accompany already has in one place.

Viva will initially include four modules, all accessed in Teams: connections, insights, topics, and learning with more on the way.

The four modules in brief

Viva Connections

The connections app provides a single entry point for employee engagement and internal communications. SharePoint and Yammer are just two of the underlying technologies that will provide a curated employee destination. Content can be customized for specific roles within the company.

Viva Insights

This includes integration with Headspace, individual and organisational insights through MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics and a new dashboard for Microsoft Viva and Glint customers for employee sentiment through surveys. This will also tap into data from third-party tools like Zoom, Workday and SAP SuccessFactors.

Viva Learning

Based on what was announced last summer, Viva Learning creates a central hub for learning in Teams where employees can easily discover and share everything from training courses to microlearning content. AI will recommend the right content at the right time. It will bring together content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and your organization’s own custom content. It also has trainings from leading content providers like Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, and edX. Finally, it will also work with leading learning management systems. Today we’re announcing partnerships with Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba and SAP SuccessFactors with more on the way.

Viva Topics

Based on what was announced as Project Cortex, this will use AI to automatically organize company-wide content and expertise into relevant categories like projects, products, processes, and customers. Topics makes Microsoft Search more powerful and automatically surfaces topic cards as people work in apps like Office, SharePoint and Teams. When an employee clicks on a card, a topics page appears with documents, videos, and related people.

Experts at the company can also help curate the information shown in topics by sharing knowledge through simple, highly customizable websites. Along with content from Microsoft apps and services, topics also services information from third-party services like ServiceNow and Graph connectors make it easy to connect out to even more content that employees would find helpful.


Here is a playlist with intro videos and a breakdown of the four modules and then some onward links to be aware of. Looking forward to this major new direction, I might even need to start trendwatching 👁‍🗨

  • WorkLab. Exploring the science of work and ingenuity through a curated series of posts and research based articles from various Microsoft voices.
  • Viva Product page
  • The announcement plus lots of other info.

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