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Viva La Revolution?

You may have missed the fanfare over the last few weeks around the launch of Microsoft Viva. Viva is Microsoft’s move to “reimagine the employee experience”.


When I read the articles and see the promo video, my first thought is “this could be exciting, everything in one place in Microsoft”. But then I start to reflect, and I am concerned that this may not be the panacea presented.


It shows seamless connection, but will it work?


Microsoft Teams is a massive step forward for Microsoft but in spite of all the good bits it is still clunky, not easy to use and appears like a jack of all trades, rather than being truly great at any. Microsoft core legacy products their Office Suite does not really work well together. PowerPoint, Excel and Word miss the trick on shared functionality, interoperability and simplicity.


Is surfacing all in one place the answer?


Are we overengineering the problem? Businesses have lots of complex systems and pulling them all into one place may not be the answer. I understand why Microsoft have done this, but the risk is bombarding employees will multiple things all in one place, which as not what employees need. Rather than “reimagining the employee experience” it looks like we are just trying to fix what is already there. This is always the problem when large established companies try to reimagine/revolutionise, existing revenue streams, customers and products tend to lead to a fine tune, rather than a reimagination.


As an example, in the promo video the vision is bought to life through Mila’s journey (minute 27 on in the video) Employee Experience Platform Overview | Microsoft Viva . In this video we are shown a pandemic type world with remote working and lots of futuristic views of the applications she is accessing. The video builds up to a big end finale where Mila has to crush that big presentation. Now if we think about it. If we have these great collaborative tools, shared data, ongoing dialogue etc. why is the future still based on a make-or-break presentation. (This point is of course opinion based but in the future is there a better way? And before you comment I realise this is marketing and making it too alien to would be a risk).


My question really is if you had a blank sheet of paper now and you were reimaging the employee experience, would Viva be your answer? Maybe we are just making the horse go faster rather than creating the car.


What will be the usage in reality?


Viva initially has 4 modules which will surface through teams with more to come.


Now this makes me wonder:


· How simple will it be?

· How will all these components work?

· How will organisations and individuals we able to easily shape their experience?

· How much of the functionality will be used?


When I think about the number of poor SharePoint deployments I have seen, or the fraction of features used in Microsoft Office Products I will wait to see what the reality for end users is.


I will also be interested to see what the costs are versus the number of unused features?


My mission is to make work better, to enhance performance and allow individuals to realise their potential. I hope Microsoft Viva is a positive on this journey but we will have to see if the reality lives up to the dream.

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