Microsoft Viva Kicks Off New Phase of UX for HR Tech

Viva Connections

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Could the next battle in the employee experience wars pair off Microsoft Teams and Slack? With the introduction of Microsoft Viva, we’ve got to wonder.

Viva is Microsoft’s newly announced employee experience platform, encompassing engagement, well-being, learning and knowledge. Through integration with Teams and Microsoft 365, its capabilities become a part of users’ flow of work.

Could the next battle in the employee experience wars pair off Teams and @SlackHQ? With the introduction of @Microsoft Viva, we’ve got to wonder. #HR #HRTech Click To Tweet

Along with Viva, Microsoft also unveiled an initial set of modules that will provide built-in capabilities, partner integrations and extensions that allow customers to knit existing experience tools into the Viva experience.

The modules are heavy on information and insights:

  • Viva Connections acts as a gateway to an employer’s digital workplace, allowing users to access internal communications and resources like policies and benefits, as well as employee resource groups and similar efforts.
  • Viva Insights provides users at all levels—individuals, managers and leaders—with information to help them work more productively and efficiently. It helps employees organize and focus their work, and even take breaks to stay fresh. Meanwhile, managers and executives can see trends at the team and organization levels, and review recommendations to help balance productivity and well-being
  • Viva Learning surfaces training and development opportunities and makes them accessible in the flow of work. It aggregates a company’s learning resources in one place, including content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and third-party providers such as Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight and edX. 
  • Finally, Viva Topics helps users connect to information and experts from across their organization. It applies AI to Microsoft 365 data and integrates with services such as ServiceNow and Salesforce to uncover information within conversations and documents from 365 and Teams.  

Viva’s capabilities will roll out throughout the year. Currently, Topics is available as an add-on to Microsoft 365, while Insights and Learning are in limited previews. Microsoft said Connections will preview during the first half, with its mobile app launching later in the year.

Viva’s, Slack’s Playbook

With Viva, Microsoft seems to be using Teams as a delivery mechanism for a new set of capabilities that goes beyond Teams’ core communications and collaboration capabilities. Just as Slack users can access HR tools, calendars, CRM apps and other business applications, Microsoft is melding new apps into the software framework many workers use as something of a home base throughout the day. Like Slack, Teams offers access to numerous applications through a simple interface that puts communications center stage.

In unveiling Viva, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the Covid-19 pandemic has forced employers to offer “a unified employee experience from onboarding and collaboration to continuous learning and growth.” Viva does that by bringing together “everything an employee needs to be successful, from day one, in a single, integrated experience directly in Teams.” In essence, Viva turns Teams into a venue where disparate tools can be provided in one place, through a single interface and a unified set of UI/UX rules.

Over the last several years, “experience” has grown from being a user interface issue to a concern that touches every aspect of an employee’s day. The idea of “ease of use” has been wrapped into the greater notion of “getting stuff done.” While there will always be people who feel some kind of passion for a particular technology (think of all those people who sleep on the sidewalk to get the newest iPhone as soon as it hits the store), most want to do their jobs with a minimum of disruption. That’s why Teams and Slack are so interesting from an HCM technology point of view, and why it’s worth keeping an eye on the capabilities and ecosystems of both.

Image: Microsoft