Today, Microsoft announced that it will move Glint, the employee experience (EX) survey vendor acquired by its LinkedIn subsidiary in 2018, to the now one-year-old Viva organization. This is a good move, important for Microsoft customers and their EX initiatives. It also comes with significant implications that leaders should understand when deciding how to move today’s EX initiatives forward while aiming for tomorrow’s intelligent EX.

Glint, along with vendor peers such as Medallia, Peakon (acquired by Workday in 2021), and Qualtrics, is rushing to meet the pandemic-accelerated demand for better EX tools. The fact that this move brings Glint closer to the core of Microsoft’s toolset — connecting the data flows and tools of Microsoft 365 — is a signal that the HR software solutions market is expanding outside the HR-centric platforms such as SAP SuccessFactors or Workday.

This move builds on the Viva platform, which is already a unique tool in the market. Built on sensors, analytics, and actions and embedded in the flow of work for people using Microsoft 365, Viva generates data and insights from users’ activity on the platform. The idea is to help both employees and their managers gain insight into the ways that they work to help them make positive changes, such as preserving more time for deep work and flow. Glint adds to that. But customers will have to determine how to connect the often-anonymous Glint survey data to the personally identifiable data generated in Viva. Deciding how to connect those data points — or, indeed, how Viva will connect personal user data with that provided by any partners, including Qualtrics — will be an important question to address, and soon.

The real question is how far away we are from providing workers with intelligent insights for managing their email, calendar, and other applications. Today, Viva can tell a user how much focus time was available to them in the last week, based on its understanding of their calendar. But that understanding is rudimentary today and does not account for things the user doesn’t put into the system, including their preferences and personal challenges. Thus, it can’t be used to make the kinds of intelligent recommendations for managing time — either to the employee or, just as crucially, to their manager — that will one day be common for tools such as these. Today’s Glint addition will give organizations and managers additional human context for interpreting the insights Viva is working to generate. Putting the Glint survey data directly in the Viva platform will add some of the human context that’s missing today. But the clock is now ticking to see how tomorrow’s connected Viva + Glint experience can make that human touch not only meaningful but intelligent.

What it means for you: If your need for employee survey data is a good fit for what Glint already does, and you will benefit through time and money savings by using it instead of your existing tools, or find it easier to target and deploy your Glint surveys with the help of Microsoft 365 and Viva, then this move by Microsoft will be a benefit to you right away. This move does put Viva on the path to the longer-term value we envision — a more complete employee engagement platform that draws on data from multiple sources and regularly delivers insight to individuals, managers, and executives when and how they can use it best. But that vision is still anybody’s market to claim and is correctly the goal of every major EX tool provider, from HR suite providers to best-of-breed tool vendors.