Microsoft’s annual partner conference, Microsoft Inspire, wrapped up Wednesday, July 20, 2022. While still virtual, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella kicked off his keynote by explicating the ‘digital imperative’ of infusing technology into all business processes. He implored partners to not just talk about digital transformation but actually deliver on the solutions that will help organizations lower costs in an “inflationary economy”.
This message was infused throughout the conference, with reminders that while technology isn’t everything, it is the critical enabler for the kind of transformation needed for an organization to stay ahead of rapidly changing business landscapes.
In regards to employee experience, this Gallup stat kept popping up: When employees aren’t engaged, it costs companies 18% of their salary. The hybrid work shift has leaders tuned into how engaged employees are with their work (and the cost if they aren’t!).
Since last year’s rollout of the employee experience platform Microsoft Viva, employee experience and the continued evolution of the platform remains a top priority for Microsoft. Microsoft Inspire 2022 was filled to the brim with updates from the world of “Viva”. Let’s dig in!
The newest addition to the Viva Suite is an evolution of the Yammer Communities app, now branded as ‘Viva Engage’. Citing that 43% of organizations point to “weak work connections” as the most challenging hurdle for hybrid work, Viva Engage seeks to encourage a ‘culture of involvement’.
Other Viva modules help colleagues to be “in the know” with organizational news, continuing education, and access productivity and well-being tools. Viva Engage, on the other hand, seems to be the avenue where employees can be more engaged with each other.
Viva Engage includes features such as communities and personalized recommendations, Storylines, and stories to share updates and personal interests. In a familiar layout reminiscent of popular consumer apps (you know the ones), it’s essentially an organization’s “internal social media”.
Viva Engage is set to be generally available August 2022, with “Storylines” public preview rolling out at the same time. For current Microsoft 365 and Office 365 enterprise customers, Viva Engage will be included with no additional licensing fee.
After acquiring ally.io, Microsoft again brought out the “rebranding glue stick”, bringing the Objectives & Key Results (OKR) management platform into the Viva Suite.
A goal-setting and management system, Viva Goals is meant to provide employees a clearer understanding of their larger “purpose” within the business. It seems the two main – for lack of a better word – “goals” of the app could be narrowed down to this:
- Ensure teams are working on the most important tasks that align with the organization’s strategic priorities
- Help team members understand their individual impact
Viva Goals integrates with Microsoft Teams, Azure DevOps, and other work management and data tools that customers are already using—as well as more integrations to come with Microsoft Viva, Microsoft Power BI, and other Microsoft 365 apps and services.
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Viva Goals was released for private preview back in May and will be generally available as stand-alone tooling for $6/user/month or as part of the $9/user/month Viva Suite. Although, if you are a current Viva Suite customer, you may already have seen Viva Goals added to your tenant (as of July 20, 2022).
Another hot topic in the Viva world was the June-announced seller experience app, Viva Sales. Leveraging Context IQ predictive AI capabilities, Viva Sales will automate data collection and entry – the proverbial thorn in every highly-motivated but less-than-organized seller’s side.
The Viva Sales team clarified: this is not a replacement for Dynamics 365 Sales. Instead, Viva Sales is intended as a ‘companion app’. In fact, Microsoft sees the two tools as having two differing audiences — D365 Sales more supports sales leaders, whereas Viva Sales is directly intended to relieve sellers from mundane data entry and collection tasks to improve day-to-day functions.
There was some initial confusion on Viva Sales’ place amongst the other Viva modules on its June announcement. Namely, why brand it as ‘Viva’ but not include it in the Viva Suite subscription?
Some clarity here — as a role-based app specifically for sellers, wider inclusion in the Viva Suite may not be applicable to all organizations. But the ‘Viva’ stamp ties the experience app to a wider initiative of making people’s jobs easier with technology. While there are no explicit indications, we can assume this is the first of other role-based employee experience apps to come down the Microsoft production line.
You can sign up for the preview here while the general availability is coming sometime in Q4 2022. At launch, Viva Sales will be available for no additional charge to Dynamics 365 customers. It will also have out-of-the-box integration with Salesforce, with the ultimate goal of connecting with any CRM. (Pricing for non-Dynamics 365 customers? TBD…)
Other Viva News
In addition to the flashy ‘new’ apps, Inspire highlighted a flurry of both recent and future enhancements to the four ‘OGs’ of the Viva Suite:
What to look forward to:
- Multiple homesites within the same tenant
Read More: How to deploy Viva Connections for Microsoft Teams
- Inspiration library
- Pre-defined hybrid work experience and employee wellbeing templates
- No-meeting day plan
- Downloadable Power BI dashboard with drill-down, data grouping
- Quiet time settings
What to look forward to:
- Redesigned Insights app
- New pre-defined meeting effectiveness/hybrid work templates
- Inline suggestions during email compose in Outlook on the web
Read More: Viva Insights: Empower Hybrid Work Employee Experiences with Data-Driven Insights
- Integration to Teams chat (can attach topic cards)
- Topic highlights in Outlook on the web
- Enhanced topic management dashboard
What to look forward to:
- Topics integration with Yammer GA
- Support with Topics indexing and knowledge with Graph content connectors
- ‘Add to calendar’ button
- ‘Bring Your own Content’ capability
- New partner integrations
- Assignment and record syncing
- SharePoint integration improvements
What to look forward to:
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