In February, Microsoft announced Viva, its platform for employee experience (EX). We believe the solution will significantly shape the EX technology landscape as the EX operating system. Microsoft is making progress toward several important aspects of EX with this announcement, but most importantly:

  1. Bring together non-survey and survey-based sources of data about EX. This will allow leaders to derive richer insights that they can use to guide their EX efforts and set better priorities.
  2. Give employees access to knowledge and insights in the flow of their daily work. They can use the platform to increase their own awareness, resilience, and effectiveness and spend less time searching for the information they need to do their jobs.
  3. Make their collaboration tools more useful. That’s good for engagement. Forrester’s EX Index data shows that the strongest technology-related predictor of engagement is when employees are satisfied with the collaboration tools they use for work. By using Teams as the focal point for Viva, Microsoft is strengthening its collaboration potential and making it more useful for employees’ daily work.

Keep in mind that EX technology solutions typically address relatively narrow aspects of the employee experience, such as measuring engagement (Gallup, Willis Towers Watson), EX surveys (Qualtrics, Medallia, Glint, Peakon), recognition (O.C. Tanner, Bonusly), communications (Dynamic Signal, Poppulo), intranets (Igloo, Simpplr), peer feedback (Engagedly, Lattice), well-being and care (Virgin Pulse, Limeade, Grokker), or technology experience monitoring (Nexthink, Riverbed).

While Viva covers a lot of functionality, not all of these categories are represented. There is still room for best-of-breed solutions, but many organizations will find the capabilities in Viva convenient to use and good enough for most of their needs.

You may be wondering what this means for the HR technology landscape. In many ways, it’s complementary. HR platforms such as Workday and SuccessFactors manage various aspects of the employee lifecycle, from onboarding to offboarding and managing performance. They don’t directly impact employees’ daily experiences, however, because they’re not tools that employees use for daily work.

Viva Offers Insight Into Employees’ Daily Experiences

Our research shows that much of what makes up EX is what employees experience each day, and that when they can make progress in important work, their experience peaks. So with Viva, Microsoft can offer more data and insight into what these daily work experiences are like, and what’s hindering their progress. It will fill in some blind spots that HR-centric systems currently have, while giving employees better tools to work with. It’s also a platform that an ecosystem of partners, including HR platforms and enterprise service management (ESM) systems, can plug into.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic taught us that more than ever, employee experience is digital. And as we predicted in the last quarter of 2020, HR will take a big turn toward tech in 2021.