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Microsoft unveils ‘Viva’ on Teams in bid to shake up $300B employee experience technology market

Nearly a year into a pandemic that ushered in a new era of virtual work, Microsoft announced a new tech platform called Viva that aims to improve wellbeing by analyzing how representatives spend their time, provide a central hub for internal company sources, combine learning into the flow of work, and provide better entry to internal corporate knowledge and expertise.

Viva is Microsoft’s entry into the increasingly crowded category of employee experience technology, competing against companies including its publicly traded Seattle-area neighbors Qualtrics and Limeade in offering tools for companies to measure and improve the general quality of work, health and life of their representatives.

Microsoft says Viva modules will be rolled out in phases starting today and in the coming months on Microsoft Teams, as new features and add-on capabilities for Microsoft 365 subscribers.

It’s part of a larger effort by Microsoft to make Teams a central hub for work, attempting to give its communication and collaboration software an edge over rivals such as Zoom, Slack and Google, while increasing its productiveness technologies further past the core Microsoft Office suite.

“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,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a video announcing the new platform. “As the world recovers, there is no going back. Flexibility in when, where and how we work will be key.”

The company announced 4 initial Viva modules: Viva Connections, Viva Insights, Viva Learning and Viva Topics.

Viva Insights uses data from LinkedIn’s Glint, and Viva Learning incorporates content from LinkedIn Learning, representing the latest effort by Microsoft to combine its core technologies with the business social community that it acquired for more than $26 billion in 2016.

Pricing for Microsoft Viva wasn’t announced. Viva will also serve as a platform, integrating technologies and tools from other companies.

Making the announcement, Microsoft sought to head off potential privacy concerns over Viva’s tools for analyzing how workers spend their time.

“To help ensure privacy and security, Microsoft Viva uses aggregation, de-identification, and differential privacy,” said Jared Spataro, Microsoft 365 corporate vice president, in a post. “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.”

The company confronted a backlash over a separate “Productivity Score” tool in November, ultimately announcing that it would remove the ability for companies to see data about individual users, to address concerns from privacy experts over the potential use of the technology for snooping on workers.

Microsoft’s announcement of Viva comes a week after the company reported a 33% boost in quarterly earnings, driven by accelerated adoption of cloud technologies among many of its busines clients during the pandemic.

The company cites analyst estimates putting the employee experience tech market at $300 billion in annual corporate spending. But it will face no shortage of competition in the segment.

“In fact, I have never seen such a massive proliferation of technology hit the enterprise at once,” writes industry analyst Josh Bersin in a recent white paper. “I am monitoring more than 1,400 distributors that sell new tools for recruitment, performance management, wellbeing, learning, employee surveying, and other HR applications.”


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