Microsoft is establishing what it calls a new product category, the employee experience platform (EXP), with this week’s announcement of Microsoft Viva.

“We have participated in the largest at-scale remote work experiment the world has seen, and it has had a dramatic impact on the employee experience,” said Microsoft’s chief executive officer Satya Nadella during the prerecorded event on Feb. 4. “Every organization will require a unified employee experience from onboarding and collaboration to continuous learning and growth. Today, we’re bringing together collaboration, learning and wellbeing in order to create a complete new product category: employee experience platform or EXP. Viva brings together everything an employee needs to be successful from day one, in a single, integrated experience directly in Teams.”

More of an integration of existing products with some add-ons than a completely new offering, Viva will contain four modules initially, with more to come. Services partners including Accenture, PwC, and EY will help customers bring their existing employee experience investments into Viva.

Dion Hinchcliffe, vice-president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said that he likes what he’s seen so far. “It’s a good repackaging with additional content. More focused on employee experience. If you’re a Microsoft shop, you should be happy they did this.”

Here’s a look at what’s on tap.

Viva Connections

Viva Connections, a customizable app in Microsoft Teams, will allow employees to access internal communications and company resources such as news, policies and benefits, providing what Microsoft calls a gateway to the digital workplace. It can be customized according to the user’s role and leverages Yammer and SharePoint.

Click to enlarge.

Viva Connections will be available for the desktop in public preview in the first half of this year, with a mobile app to follow.

Viva Insights

Viva Insights comes in three pieces.

Insights for Individuals helps employees stay connected to their colleagues and monitor employee well-being by encouraging regular breaks, focused work, and learning. Two experiences announced last summer – virtual commute and integration with meditation app Headspace – will become part of Viva Insights.

Insights for Managers provides data-driven insights and recommendations to managers on keeping their teams healthy and successful and protecting them from burnout, and Insights for Leaders looks at organization-wide work patterns and trends – even space planning, as new work patterns mean different office requirements. Both require Microsoft Workplace Analytics purchases.

Seeking to avoid a repeat of the backlash last fall around the Productivity Score, which initially identified employees’ work stats individually before privacy concerns forced the company to aggregate the data at an organizational level, Microsoft corporate VP for Microsoft 365 Jared Spataro said that personal insights are only available to the individual employee. Managers and leaders have a deidentified aggregated view of the organization.

In addition, a new dashboard for Microsoft Viva and LinkedIn Glint customers maps insights about how people work to employee survey data about how they feel. Viva customers can also leverage data from third-party tools like Zoom, Slack, Workday, and SAP SuccessFactors.

Insights and the new dashboard are now in public preview.

Viva Learning

Viva Learning creates a learning hub in Teams for content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, an organization’s custom content, and courses from leading content providers like Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, and edX. These components are available in private preview today. Later this year, Viva Learning will integrate with leading learning-management systems, including Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, and SAP SuccessFactors.

Rounding out the initial quartet of modules is the only generally available component of Viva: Viva Topics. It uses artificial intelligence to extract knowledge from a customer’s Microsoft 365 data and can integrate information from external sources such as ServiceNow and Salesforce. It will automatically surface topic cards within conversations and documents in Teams and Microsoft 365; clicking the card will open a page of related documents, contacts, conversations, and videos. Viva Topics is available as an add-on to eligible Microsoft 365 commercial (Business or Enterprise) plans for $5 US per user per month; there’s a 25 license 30-day free trial. For education customers, it will be $1 US per user per month for faculty and $0.75 per user per month for students.

Microsoft offers a free e-book describing the solutions in detail.

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