Microsoft Introduces Its Viva Suite of Remote Working Tools

Microsoft debuted Viva, a package of tools to enable better employee management including a range of human resources-related software for payroll, tracking employee performance and resources for staff on benefits, career development and other life and work aspects. Chief executive Satya Nadella called the toolset “essential,” adding that “the very best tools and systems” for remote working are crucial in difficult times. During the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft has seen an earnings boom in cloud-computing, laptops and video games.

The Wall Street Journal reports Nadella predicted that spending on technology, now about 5 percent of gross domestic product, will “double in the next 10 years to 10 percent.” Microsoft faces competition from a range of companies, including Salesforce; ServiceNow, which offers market business software; Work.com’s employee management software; and human resource tools from Workday and SAP SE.

According to independent analyst Josh Bersin, because of “disparate human resource management tools that aren’t well integrated … [companies are] spending enormous amounts of money building custom portals or applications to bring it all together.”

That’s where Nadella sees an opportunity “to snare more customers for Teams, Microsoft’s workplace collaboration tool” that he is positioning as “an operating system used by clients that is as central to daily business as Windows once was.” Viva will be “accessible primarily through Teams, though some features can also be accessed on other Microsoft tools ….. [and Microsoft] is also integrating elements of its LinkedIn business-focused social-media platform with parts of Viva.”

The Verge reports that Viva, which will roll out “throughout 2021,” is Nadella’s bet that remote working will continue past the pandemic. “We have participated in the largest, at scale, remote work experiment the world has seen,” he said. “As the world recovers, there is no going back.” Microsoft 365 corporate vice president Jared Spataro noted that, “we need to stop thinking about work as a place, and start thinking about how to maintain culture, connect employees, and harness human ingenuity in a hybrid world.”

Viva is split into four modules. Connections includes internal communications, company policies and benefits information. “You can think of it as a gateway to your digital workplace,” said Spataro. Connections is “built on top of Microsoft’s SharePoint technology, and it will include things like company news, town halls, or even employee resource groups and communities.”

Viva Insights, the second module, will include “data for managers and leaders to monitor work patterns and trends, but that privacy will be protected.” “This means 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,” said Spataro.

The third module, Viva Learning is about employee learning and development and will include “content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and even a business’ own content, alongside training material from third-party providers.” It also uses AI to “organize content and automatically surfaces topic cards with documents, videos, and related people.”

Fourth, Topics will “generate topic cards from apps like Office, Teams, and SharePoint.” This last module is available now for Microsoft 365 customers. Also available today are a public preview of Viva Insights and a private preview of Viva Learning.