Microsoft begins the Viva software program and involves the groups first

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, speaks at a Microsoft press conference in New York on October 26, 2016.

Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images

Microsoft on Thursday unveiled a group of services that can originally be accessed in its team app to better educate users and avoid burnout.

Launching the software under the Viva brand name could help bolster the Office franchise, which has more revenue than any other product category for Microsoft, and differentiate it from competitors like Slack, which Salesforce bought for $ 27.7 billion .

With Viva, employees have access to online learning materials, an encyclopedia of information automatically generated from company files, a feed with organizational updates and productivity suggestions. There are also tools that managers can use to monitor their teams’ work patterns.

Some of these functions already existed under different names. For example, Microsoft offered Workplace Analytics to track organizational behavior, and SharePoint offers a hub for internal content.

“Our customers have told us they want something more preconfigured, simpler and more mobile that brings all of these things together,” said Seth Patton, general manager, in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday.

Teams, which include video calls and text chat rooms, became popular when the advent of the coronavirus resulted in companies closing offices and figuring out virtual ways for employees to keep in touch. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told analysts last week that more than 100,000 people are using teams in 117 different organizations. Microsoft is effectively packing teams with more and more, while app usage is higher than before the pandemic.

“I would say it’s in teams because that’s where remote and hybrid work is done,” Patton said. “It has in some ways replaced or augmented the experience we all had going into the office.”

Some of Viva’s functions are carried over to other Microsoft assets. If a person in Teams comes across an unknown term, a pop-up window with information is displayed in the “Viva Topics” function. Microsoft could add that to other applications like Word, Patton said. The technology that customers have to pay for beyond their Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscriptions is based on the Project Cortex initiative that Microsoft introduced in 2019.

The Viva Insights Workplace Productivity Improvement component can display information from other tools such as Workday and Zoom, as well as survey results from Glint, which Microsoft acquired, owned by LinkedIn, in 2018. Similarly, the Viva Learning section displays videos from LinkedIn Learning. as well as Coursera, Pluralsight and proprietary libraries. Learning management materials from CornerStone OnDemand and SAP SuccessFactors can also be linked.

Microsoft isn’t the only one trying to demonstrate the power of its software as vaccines become more widely available and companies prepare to reopen their facilities. On Wednesday, video calling rival Zoom announced updates designed to help users use their software in conference rooms without making physical contact with dedicated hardware.

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