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Microsoft launches Viva, an AI-powered information hub for enterprises

Microsoft today announced Microsoft Viva, an employee experience platform designed to deliver first- and third-party products for learning, wellness, insights, knowledge and engagement. As part of this, the company presented the modules Viva Topics, Viva Connections, Viva Insights and Viva Learning, which come from Project Cortex.

Most organizations have to deal with myriad areas of data, some of which inevitably get underutilized or forgotten. A Forrester survey found that between 60% and 73% of all data within an organization is never analyzed for insights or major trends. The opportunity cost of this unused data is significant. According to a Veritas report, the opportunity cost will be $ 3.3 trillion by 2020 if the current trend continues. Perhaps that is why the corporate sector has become interested in cognitive search and robotic process automation products that ingest, understand, organize, and process digital content from multiple digital sources.

“This fall, the number of daily active users in Microsoft teams rose to 115 million, while Microsoft 365 users around the world generated more than 30 billion minutes of collaboration in a single day while people communicated, collaborated, and co-authored content … But really empowering people to feel connected, supported and able to do their best. We have to do more, ”said Microsoft 365 CVP Jared Spataro.

Spataro added that consulting partners like Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young will offer services to bring clients on board with Viva. “Viva brings together communication, knowledge, learning, resources and insights into an integrated experience that enables people and teams to be the best they can from anywhere,” he added.

Viva themes

In September, Project Cortex – a Microsoft 365 offering that analyzes documents, conversations, meetings, and videos to identify domain experts and populate a knowledge base while displaying information in Office apps, Outlook, and Microsoft Teams – the Preview finished. Rather than launching Cortex as a single platform, Microsoft announced that it would make its features available as “a set of unique innovations,” starting with SharePoint Syntex, which uses AI to capture, ingest and classify content based on existing SharePoint -Functions to automate content functions.

Viva Topics is the second such innovation. According to Microsoft, AI is used to think about a company’s data and automatically organize content and expertise across systems and teams. Topics introduce data into related topics such as projects, products, processes, and customers. For example, when employees see an unfamiliar acronym or project in email or chat, they can hover over the word and pop out a topic card with a description and related experts, documents and videos.

Above: Knowledge discovery in Viva topics.

Image credit: Microsoft

The AI ​​system that drives Viva learns from signals or behavioral data derived from inputs. These come from the pages employees visit, the videos they watch, and the support tickets they submit. Not to mention the detailed information that is collected about users, including job titles, locations, departments, employees, and possibly all of the documents, emails, and other correspondence they compose. Each signal informs the decision-making of the AI ​​system so that it continuously improves, automatically learns how different resources are relevant to each person, and ranks those resources accordingly.

If you click on a “map” within topics, a knowledge page curated by AI and experts is called up with information such as diagrams that illustrate the contextual relationships between the various topics. This page also connects topics with recommended subject experts, with the subject knowledge being added to the individual user profiles and expanded to person cards in Microsoft 365. The topics can be combined well with Microsoft apps such as SharePoint and Microsoft Search, says Microsoft, and highlights will be integrated into the hub from Microsoft Teams, Outlook and other Microsoft 365 apps in the course of 2021.

Viva connections

Additional topics are Viva Connections, which bring messages, conversations and other resources together in devices and apps such as Microsoft Teams. It is designed to provide a personalized feed where employees can explore news and contribute to internal conversations.

With Connections, businesses can publish content from Microsoft 365 apps, including SharePoint, Yammer, or Microsoft Stream, in a single feed. Alternatively, they can publish external messages and content that employees should see and use targeting to reach specific departments, regions or job roles. Administrators can also draw staff attention to feed items based on properties such as Always On Top, Until Read, and X Impressions.

Microsoft Viva connections

Within Connections, employees can exchange feedback and participate in conversations about news and announcements with Yammer communities. In addition, Connections provides employees with a dashboard in which they can identify resources and complete tasks. Managers can create maps for existing team apps or use low-code solutions such as Microsoft Power Apps, custom solutions with SharePoint Framework and adaptive maps, and third-party partner services.

According to Microsoft, Connections will be available for desktop in the first half of 2021 and for mobile devices in summer 2021. Additional functions will be introduced in the course of 2022.

Viva Insights

Viva Insights, the third pillar of Viva, aims to merge Microsoft Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics under the new Viva brand. The launch came after Microsoft was criticized for allegedly enabling monitoring via the Productivity Score, which allowed managers to use Microsoft 365 to track employee activities at an individual level.

Microsoft claims that Insights is private, unidentified, and uses safeguards such as data aggregation and minimum sharing thresholds. Insights relies on data and signals from Teams, Outlook and other Microsoft 365 apps as well as Zoom, Slack, Workday and SAP SuccessFactors and tries to find patterns in data that can affect work results.

Microsoft Viva Insights

Above: Productivity and wellbeing in Viva Insights.

Image credit: Microsoft

In the Insights section “Stay connected”, employees can, for example, prioritize the time for regular one-on-one meetings and track tasks across emails, chats and approved documents. With the Protected Time experience, employees can schedule focus time so that they can work continuously throughout the work day. Insights’ daily briefing email, delivered via Cortana in English with a Spanish option en route, shows ways to contact, prepare for meetings, and meet commitments.

On the management side, Microsoft states that Insights gives administrators insight into work patterns that can lead to burnout and stress, such as: B. Overworked meetings, too little focus time or working hours outside of the working hours chosen by the employees. Insights provides the ability to create team action plans and provide employee recommendations and practices to prioritize wellbeing and potentially increase productivity.

Microsoft Viva Insights

Above: New dashboard with data from Glint and Viva Insights.

Image credit: Microsoft

In addition to Insights, there is the Glint Microsoft Power BI dashboard. The public preview for joint Glint Workplace Analytics customers as part of Insights is designed to identify where teams may be struggling, proactively adjust labor standards, and quantify the impact of these changes over time. In addition, new Workplace Analytics integrations with the Glint platform as part of a pilot project allow users to analyze engagement data, including comment data, based on metrics such as weekly hours worked, workweek hours and one-on-one manager-employee interviews.

Starting today, an Insights app for Teams is available in public preview for Microsoft 365 users with Exchange Online. (For licensed Workplace Analytics customers, Insights are available to managers and executives.) Microsoft says updates to Insights will bring additional experiences in the coming months, including a “virtual commute” at the end of the day, check-in for breaks, and reflection on integration into headspace and actionable insights in teams like recommended study times and courses from LinkedIn Learning.

Viva learning

Viva Learning, the fourth and final component of the Viva platform from Microsoft, combines communication, knowledge, learning, resources and insights of a company. It’s a hub where employees can discover, share, assign, and learn from content libraries in LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, third-party content providers, and custom content.

In Teams, users can search for and share learning lessons in a chat, just as they would with other types of content. Teams and groups of people can also organize their own learning tab with custom, specific learning content. As you study, recommended content is displayed in a personalized view, and Topics provides learning suggestions in the Topic Center along with other knowledge resources.

Microsoft Viva Learning

Above: Learning resources in Microsoft Viva Learning.

Image credit: Microsoft

Learning shows the learning tasks a manager has done when they are due and the reported completion status of the employees. Employees can view their assigned learning along with due dates and other important information, or interact with LinkedIn Learning directly from Teams through an embedded player.

On the content side of the equation, Microsoft says it works with platforms like Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, EdX, Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, and SAP SuccessFactors. Companies that license these libraries will have access to content in Learning later this year. Microsoft plans to make APIs available so that additional customers and partners can be integrated into Learning.

Starting in February, Microsoft is showing a preview of the learning app for teams with a small number of customers and partners. It is expected to be generally available later this year.


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