Microsoft Viva: Why it could be ‘a massive opportunity’ for HR execs

Analysts say this Microsoft Viva could be the 'ultimate technology-based employee experience' platform.
By: | February 4, 2021 • 3 min read
(Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)

Microsoft stepped up its employee experience game today with the announcement of its latest platform industry analysts are hailing as a game changer: Microsoft Viva.

The tech giant is billing the digital platform, which is built on Microsoft 365 and integrates with Teams and other applications, as a tool that will both prioritize and ease employee experience challenges for CHROs. As Microsoft Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan wrote in an announcement on LinkedIn, “Human resource leaders have always been focused on the employee experience, but in the new virtual and hybrid world, that experience needs to be a priority for every leader—and seamlessly woven into the flow of work.”

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This platform aims to do just that, building on the ubiquity that Microsoft’s technologies already have within many medium and large organizations around the world today.

Many analysts, industry-watchers and even employee experience competitors were giving Viva initial high marks.

Rebecca Wettemann

Rebecca Wettemann, principal, Valoir, and one of HRE‘s Top 100 HR Tech Influencers, called it “the most important apps story from Microsoft in more than a decade.”

“Employee engagement and morale are HR’s top challenges today and for the foreseeable future,” Valoir writes in a brief report published Thursday. “Microsoft’s challenge will be to execute on the vision of driving engagement, productivity and connection from every desktop.”

And Stacia Garr, co-founder and principal analyst at RedThread Research and also one of HRE‘s Top 100 HR Tech Influencers, writes in her blog that the announcement “reshapes the employee experience and people analytics tech market. Employee experience vendors, to date, have covered a limited part of employee experience–leaving space for someone who can (at least claim to) do it all. Viva has the potential to fill that gap and fundamentally change the market.

Announced collaborators in Microsoft Viva include Cornerstone Learning and Saba Cloud in the platform’s learning app. Viva also will feature companies that Microsoft has acquired in recent years, Garr writes, including Glint, Github, LinkedIn and Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning).

Here are more thoughts on the announcement and the platform from some of HR and HR tech’s top analysts.

“I think this announcement gives HR execs a massive opportunity to partner with IT and consider Viva as a key part of the company’s Employee Experience strategy. The four apps in Viva all fit directly into the EX issues companies face and as an integrating platform, this lets Microsoft customers integrate all its employee-centric apps into one collaborative platform.”

Josh Bersin, Human Resource Executive columnist and dean of the Josh Bersin Academy

Register: Join Josh Bersin and Microsoft GM Seth Patton on Feb. 19 for a webinar on the Microsoft Viva implications

“Microsoft Viva has the potential to be the platform the HR leaders around the world have been looking for to create the ultimate technology-based employee experience. Pulling knowledge, content, collaboration, analytics all into a familiar, natural interface will allow the journeys and capabilities that HR functions deploy to meet the workforce where they are today, which is often in Microsoft tools such as Teams, Sharepoint, etc. Viva will change the game no matter what around employee experience forever and at a minimum, will make all in the industry finally think differently about delivering what matters to the workforce in a frictionless manner.”

Jason AverbookHuman Resource Executive columnist and CEO and co-founder of Leapgen

Related: Workday deal, Top 100 Influencers and more HR Tech insights

Henry Albrecht, CEO Limeade

“Microsoft continues to invest in the employee experience, which is a tremendous validation of the world embracing a more humane future of work. (Microsoft CEO) Satya Nadella has put his stamp on Microsoft with a focus on culture and care–and it will end up changing the world. Improving the employee experience is a daunting task. Burnout is rampant, employees are isolated and inequity is the norm. Today Microsoft raised the stakes, but they can’t do it alone. Their developer community needs to shift our mindset, accelerate integrations (as Limeade does with Azure and Teams) and help our customers deliver cultures where every employee knows their company cares.”

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Henry Albrecht, CEO at Seattle-based Limeade, an employee experience company

“We believe Cornerstone’s collaboration with Microsoft will empower organizations to create stronger, more seamless employee experiences at work where their people can grow and adapt for the future. By integrating Cornerstone’s LMSs into the Microsoft Viva platform, learning opportunities will be readily available where employees are already working, like Microsoft Teams, and at the exact time of need. It will be easier for employees and managers alike to discover, share and engage with learning content without the friction of having to switch back and forth between solutions–further breaking down barriers to learning.”

Heidi Spirgi, chief strategy and marketing officer at Cornerstone

“Microsoft has had the pieces for an employee engagement app for a long time, with Graph, LinkedIn and Teams. Its position on most desktops makes it the natural source of an HR application that is likely to make a lot of HCM vendors nervous. Microsoft will need to sell Viva to a broad HR and business audience without raising antitrust concerns.”

Rebecca Wettemann, principal, Valoir

 

Elizabeth Clarke is executive editor of Human Resource Executive. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Florida and then spent more than 25 years as a reporter and editor in South Florida before joining HRE. Elizabeth lives with her family in Palm Beach County. She can be reached at eclarke@lrp.com.