M365 Community Conference: What's New and Next for Microsoft Viva and the Employee Experience
Published May 10 2024 12:15 PM 914 Views

Session: What's New and Next for Microsoft Viva and the Employee Experience
Speakers: Kirk Gregersen, Kristi Kelly, Michael Holste, Nick DeFalco

 

Excited to hear about the future of Microsoft Viva, I was looking forward to this session. I have been involved in this world for a number of years, ever since Microsoft Viva was launched. I was looking forward to hearing about the future, the success stories and how Viva can help organization succeed. Fortunately, I was not disappointed.


The session took us on a journey to tackle the challenges that organizations face transforming their practice with AI and how Microsoft Viva can help them on that journey.

 

The Challenge

Kirk Gregerson, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft Viva steps on to the stage.


Kirk started with a trip down memory lane where he talked about his journey at Microsoft. His first project was one that a lot of us remember. Microsoft Frontpage 2002 with FrontPage Server Extensions, the forerunner of SharePoint and an incredible start to his career!

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Copilot Shift

Kirk introduced the effect Copilot will have and how it will affect change within organizations. To be successful, organizations will need to rapidly adapt and involve their staff in the transformation. He mentioned how it offers a terrific opportunity and a challenge for organizations – ensuring they use it to gain and maintain a competitive edge.

 

Enabling businesses to leverage Copilot effectively involves shifting the culture and empowering the people to harness this transformative potential. The question is how to achieve this.

 

The Microsoft Viva team spoke with customers on the Copilot Early Adoption Program and shared their insights. The team showed examples of Copilot in Viva and the benefits including case studies.

 

Business leaders were interviewed on the potential of AI, with the consensus being that it is going to be responsible for the success of their businesses.

 

Kirk, discussed the core areas where AI will impact businesses, and these included:

  • Productivity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Operations.
  • User experience.
  • Wellbeing.

The challenge is that expectations are high and so the question Kirk asked was,


“How do businesses meet the expectations of the business leaders?”

 

He leads us into how Microsoft Viva’s Employee Experience capability has a huge part to play. Its role is to bring people within the organization on the journey to drive and manage this transition.

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This shift starts with people and creating connection between the people and the business. Employees who are connected and bought into the business’s mission are known as engaged employees.


Engaged employees have an enormous impact on the business. Kirk shared some incredible stats on how listening to your people leads to engaged employees and the huge positive impact they have on the business.

  • 89% of employees who feel that companies listen to them and their feedback to drive change are more engaged in the business.
  • Engaged employees are 12x less likely to leave their company.
  • Engaged employees are 3x less likely to burn out.
  • 2x businesses with engaged employees had a higher stock price than their competition.

Two key tools that track how Copilot is being adopted and how well it is working are:

  • Copilot Impact Dashboard
  • Microsoft Viva Personal Insights.

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Kirk talked about how the research and experience team have discovered that high performance teams have the following behaviors:

  • Measurement of how they are working using insights.
  • Measurement of how they feel with tools such as Viva Pulse and Viva Glint.

Next, Viva Goals was discussed and how it helps give those teams focus and purpose. This is done by aligning them around goals and business direction.

 

However, as we all know strategy is fluid and is constantly changing. How do you keep people up to date?


Viva Amplify and Viva Connections are key to addressing this challenge, providing a platform to keep the workforce up to date with the latest thinking and direction so that they can contribute and give feedback.

 

Finally, Viva Learning and Viva Skills are used to help the business by having the right people with the right skills.


Kirk then introduced Nick DeFalco.


Measure and Productivity

Nick DeFalco, Product Manager for Workplace Analytics, took the stage to talk about Measurement.


Nick talked about how measurement is key to the success of a change management process.


“Without measurement how do you know when you have been successful?”

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He asked:

  • What do you measure?
  • Where can you find insights and reporting?

He suggested that the place to start is with Microsoft Copilot Dashboard within Viva Insights. Nick took us through some of the key reports. One that stood out was sentiment analysis by Microsoft Entra ID Group (Departments) for distinct characteristics such as quality, speed, punctuality. These can be used to highlight problem areas or anomalies between the different groups of users.

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Nick introduced Viva Insights, which allows measurements and reports to be customized to give better insights. An example of this is Case Handling times. By monitoring this metric, it is possible to see which teams perform better and which don’t. This understanding of behavior in those teams can help improve this metric.

 

Another important thing to measure is the feelings of people who work in different ways. How do the working experiences of employees vary when they work from the office, home, or hybrid?

 

One of the main take aways that I took from this session was a scenario where the team were looking to answer - why were the high performing sales people high performing?

Using Viva Insights and the metrics available an investigation was performed. The question was:

 

“What differentiates the most successful salespeople from everyone else?”

 

Copilot in Viva Insights was used to ask which metrics should be considered to answer this question. This led to Copilot suggesting that one key differentiator was the number of internal connections that the salespeople have.

 

The finding from this investigation was that a salesperson with 85 or more connections was 3.1x more likely to be successful! This meant that the salesperson was able to look after their customers better, because they knew who to speak to within their company to unblock orders and give the customer better service!

 

“A salesperson with 85 or more connections was 3.1x more likely to be successful.”

 

However, after gaining this insight, how do we influence and increase the connections that the rest of the sales team have?

 

Nick showed the Network analysis overview report with Microsoft Viva Insights. Originally in November 2023 the organization could see that there was not much connection between Sales and Customer Service. This resulted in changes being made to connect the two departments more. And by February 2024 the connection between Sales and Customer Services was much stronger. This helped improve the overall sales team’s success and improve the business success overall.

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Nick then turned to Viva Glint and Organizational insights.


One of the key questions that organizations should ask in employee surveys is, “are you clear on your goals?”

 

Whilst there is value in the measurement-based questions, there is gold in the verbatims provided by the employee survey.


However, the process to identify the themes and key points is time consuming. Copilot in Glint can summarize the information from these surveys.


The findings from the employee feedback were:

 

“Overall they feel happy but need clearer view of the priorities in the organization and need more information from leaders so that they can support the strategy of the business.”

 

The discussion turned to new joiners and seeing how the employee feedback changed for new starters. Viva Glint can use Tenure and drill down into a subset of the users. The findings were: new joiners really struggled to find content about strategy and vision. This really impacted on how effective they felt they could be. This is likely to impact if they will stay in the short-term.
These comments were essential to being able to find the real concerns of the employees. With Copilot the team were able to distill 7000 responses down to 22 main comments. These can then be used by the leaders to focus and understand the key actions that they need to take.

 

Copilot in Viva Glint has been in a private preview and one of the customers getting huge value from the platform is Phillips 66.

 

Kirk introduced Cassidy Pott from Phillips 66 to the stage and a fascinating fireside chat ensued.

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Cassidy is the Employee Experience lead and looks after 55000 employees.


Her journey from IT Management Systems has given her a unique insight into the art of the possible. She could then apply her skills and experience from this and help her as the Employee Experience Lead.

 

The first comment that she had was how easy Viva Glint was to use. She was a bit skeptical about Copilot in Glint. However, this shifted quickly. The surveys that were conducted with question suggestions from Copilot in Glint resulted in feedback from management that they had the best discussions with their teams.


“Managers fed back that the survey’s resulted in the best discussions with the teams they had ever had!”

 

The first step on Cassidy’s journey was organizing the migration from Viva Glint in LinkedIn to Microsoft 365. She was expecting a slow and complex process and was surprised that the migration was incredibly easy. She and the IT team stated it was probably the easiest migration they have been involved in!

 

Kirk asked Cassidy, “What are the benefits that you are seeing?”

 

Cassidy said that the tooling was integrated into the current workflows, which was the main advantage. They did not need to add new tools and another separate application, but they could use Microsoft Teams to distribute things. Also, since the toolset is part of the Microsoft 365 platform, they can link content together without obstacles between the different systems.

Next, the conversation turned to Copilot in Viva Glint.


Kirk asked what Cassidy’s experience had been with Copilot in Glint. She was very positive about the experience and described it as follows:


“In 2 minutes, I realized how fantastic it (Copilot in Glint) was and the capacity that it is going to create”.

 

Cassidy described how she started to use Copilot in Glint. When she puts together a survey, she will spend time designing the survey and then gets the results and reports on it.


One of the huge challenges with the survey are the results. The sheer volume of data, taking all the answers and making sense of it all takes a lot of time. How would you read and manage the 14000 comments?


However, with Copilot in Glint this becomes very easy. Within 20 seconds, Cassidy was able to summarize all the comments. What was great is that it matched the feedback that they had manually put together. What was more, Copilot picked up on something that had been missed!

Due to the speed of feedback, Copilot allowed them to start doing more research. This included other themes such as communication and collaboration. Previously, they just did not have the time to do this additional research but now they can!

 

Cassidy told a story about how one of the managers was looking for some answers from the research and asked how long it would take. Cassidy responded that it would be about two months.


Well, with Copilot in Glint, Cassidy was able to give the manager an answer before they had finished the meeting! The result was that Copilot in Glint allowed them to do something that would have taken two months in one hour!

 

What Next

Kirk asked, “What is next?”


Cassidy explained that they want to spend more time going over the comments and seeing what other insights and feedback they can glean from the content.


She is really looking forward to being able to do real-time analysis and feedback more quickly. They also want to bring these tools to the leadership team so they (the management team) can analyze and work on the findings too.

 

Advice?

Kirk asked “Do you have an advice?”


A good way to start using Copilot in Glint is to use a survey that you already have findings for. Cassidy did this and this built trust with the tool because the results matched her findings. Using this approach, you can get fast feedback and check if the results are correct or not. 


Communications

Next up, Kristi Kelly, Principal Product Manager of Copilot and AI Experiences for Microsoft Viva, walked up on the stage and coolly addressed the audience with “Well I didn’t trip up the stage!”

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Kristi moved the conversation to Communications and the impact of Viva Amplify and Viva Connections.


In most organizations with Microsoft Viva the conversations start in the Employee Hub, this might be with Viva Connections or the SharePoint Intranet homepage.


Viva Connections is an incredible ecosystem with over 1500 Viva Connection card applications published by third parties. Amazingly, the application is in the top 3 of most used Microsoft Teams applications. Actually, this should not be a surprise because it is the Microsoft Teams mobile app where Viva Connections shines and makes up a big part of the story.


Viva Connections is key at pushing out news and campaigns.

 

Kristi announced that Viva Amplify will shortly be rolling out Viva Connections as a direct endpoint.

 

Kristi then introduced a case study where an organization needs to upskill the workforce in AI. The goal is to communicate and direct people towards this outcome and a set of overall goals.
She explains - to achieve this we need to reach out to people via different channels including Outlook, SharePoint/Viva Connections and Teams.

 

Viva Amplify analytics and the Publication Report helps the team identify that the distribution and reach is there but the engagement is low. The insights gleaned from Viva Amplify show that the messaging needs to change and be more engaging.

 

The network analytics from Viva Engage are key and with these reports it is possible to see how to keep people engaged and the topics that are most important for the employees. Additionally, these reports help us retain staff by keeping them engaged.


One of the key reports to monitoring staff retention levels is the Employee Retention report, which shows how communication is influencing employee retention levels.

 

Copilot resources.

The Viva Engage team have built a community template, the Copilot Adoption community which helps organizations increase the reach of Copilot within the business. This is available in your Microsoft 365 now.


The template helps organizations to engage, share best practice and built a knowledge base which the rest of the organization can use.

 

Time for a demo

Kristi showed how Viva Answers can help teams to find answers to their questions and increase the capture of knowledge. The top questions feature is a great way of showing everyone how important knowledge is to the organization and aims to inspire the teams to ask more questions and seek more answers.


AI powered questions means that users can get answers automatically if the question has already been asked and this means that 66% of questions are automatically answered without the need to post the question!

 

“With Viva Answers, 66% of questions are automatically answered without the need to post the question.”

 

Copilot in Viva Engage can really help community leaders to work out the type of information that communities need. The use of Copilot allows to keep the flow of questions and information going and this really helps engagement. As these questions help people understand how they contribute and help and support others. This helps make the community stronger and have more engagement.


Kristi talked about how conversation starters are research backed and provided by experts within Microsoft.

 

Kristi continued the demo and gave us a tip on how we can help more successful engagement and change with a new initiative by using model behavior. This is where you show the behavior that you are looking for. This is often a problem where people are not sure how they are supposed to behave. So, Kristi uses Copilot to help her get started.

 

This knowledge and experience help her to engage people and bring them along on the journey so that they get involved and allow us to reach the goal!

 

Kristi closes her section with an announcement that Copilot in Viva Engage is rolling out today!

A video case study starts with a well-known pizza brand, Dominos. The case study explains how Viva helped them establish a single communications platform and break down barriers across the organization.


Their main challenge has been trying to connect with the store managers across their 100000-person organization.

 

They rolled out Viva Goals and OKRs throughout Dominos, the result is that they have seen a significant increase in performance.

 

One of the ways that they measured is by asking their employees “How well do you know the business goals and objectives?”

 

Dominos at the start of their journey scored poorly. However, with Microsoft Viva to improve communications, the tide has turned, and the score has been increasing with each subsequent survey.

 

The great response they had has been from the stores. They now feel that they can engage and provide feedback. This is helping Dominos to keep improving and pushing forward across the entire organization.

 

Skilling

Michael Holste, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft Viva, steps on the stage to talk about skilling with Microsoft Viva.

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Michael talks about how organizations need to upskill and reskill, which is where people are trained in new job roles.


He highlighted that these capabilities are key if we are to implement transformation with AI.


Viva Skills

The key question is, how do we get skilling at the end user and organization levels?


One of the key tools is Viva Skills which uses the LinkedIn Skills Graph. This maps skills to job title and links these skills to learning content which can then be used to as the training content to be used to bring those employees up to speed with that ability.


He explains how reporting allows us to see where the gaps are in those skills and the content that can be used to address that need.

 

Michael introduces a scenario where an organization needed to use AI to transform.

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Michael starts by looking at the skill landscape and quickly is able to see that skills are weak in Product Development and Research. Additionally, they found that actually they do have a foundation in the Machine Learning skill, which is fundamental to driving the transformation with AI.

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Armed with this information the organization can take action to address these skills challenges.
Ryan turned attention to Viva Learning.

 

Viva Learning

Michael talks over how Viva Learning brings key training content to the employees. Using the skills found earlier we can find and tailor learning content to the needs of the teams and organization to build capability in those areas.

 

He explains how the Viva Skills service works. The Viva Skills system will continue to learn and add skills as it understands the skills repertoire found in a business’s Microsoft 365 ecosystem.

A new feature has been introduced is Viva Learning Academies. This feature allows learning to be associated with Viva Goals. Finally, we can link the learning and skills based on the goals of an organization!

 

Finally, Michael closes his part with a discussion of Copilot in Viva Learning. Here Copilot can help us to find key learning information. He shows a demo where he is looking for introductions to AI. Copilot provides examples of learning courses and more to help people quickly find the right training for their needs.

Close

Kirk returns to the stage and closes the talk, explaining the journey we have been on. He shows a slide of the current state of the Viva Innovations across the Viva Suite of products which shows an impressive array of the latest features and features to come this year.

You can find out more about these Viva Innovations on the Viva Roadmap (https://aka.ms/viva/roadmap).

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The session was a great overview with some fantastic insights, learning and inspiring real-world stories which I am personally going to find useful when speaking with customers and my team..

 

Simon Doy is a Microsoft MVP, Viva Explorer, core team member of the Maturity Model for Microsoft 365 team and owner of iThink 365. He is passionate about helping organizations be successful using Microsoft 365 and through their people by connecting the people to one another and the business to build a happier, more productive and profitable and engaged workforce who are invested in driving the business forward.

 

Blog: https://www.simondoy.com

X / Twitter https://www.x.com/simondoy

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/simondoy

Website: https://www.ithink365.co.uk

Viva Explorers: https://www.vivaexplorers.com

Maturity Model for Microsoft 365: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/community/microsoft365-maturity-model--intro

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