On 16 June, Microsoft dropped a surprise on us - a brand new Viva pillar. Viva Sales has allows employees to enter CRM data, whatever your CRM and powered by AI. With nudges and hints to help you do the right thing, it will truly power a more productive and effective sales force (whether with Salesforce, Dynamics or something else). What is more interesting though is what this means to the future of Viva.
What is Viva?
Hopefully everyone reading this knows about Microsoft Viva but, just in case, it is the Employee experience platform from Microsoft that puts the employee at the centre. It is formed of multiple pillars but all of this are centred around Teams as the platform so you can use all of them in your flow of work through Teams that must of us are already familiar with.
The pillars are currently:
- Viva Connections
- connecting employees to the organisation, to each other and to the tools they need to get their job done
- Viva Insights
- providing personal productivity and leadership insights
- Viva Topics
- providing the right knowledge to the right people at the right time
- Viva Learning
- helping employees learn in their flow of work
- Viva Goals
- aligning culture and strategy throughout the organisation with OKRs
And now Viva Sales fits into these pillars too. There has been a seventh pillar announced as well with Glint due to be integrated into Viva to capture pulse surveys from employees, integrating the insights with what employees are saying.
The common thread to these tools, as well as being employee focused, is that they bring AI power to them to make it easier to do the right thing. For example, Viva Topics will automatically extract knowledge topics from across your Microsoft 365 estate and Viva Learning will suggest courses from across your LMSs based on what courses you have taken and what people around you are looking at.
The other common thread is that they connect into other platforms, this isn’t just a Microsoft thing.
- Viva Connections has the dashboard which means you can easily bring live data to your digital workplace hub from any platform with an API
- Viva Insights links in with Headspace and you can align your data through Power BI with any other data sources
- Viva Topics will soon be able to index data from any other system with an API to inject your knowledge from services like Salesforce and ServiceNow
- Viva Learning pulls from all your LMS platforms to give you one place for your learning content and with playlists across those
- Viva Goals can power your key results from tools such as Jira, Asana, Google Sheets and more
- Viva Sales will be able to update your CRM whether it is Dynamics, Salesforce or something else
This common thread neatly positions Viva at the centre of your Digital Workplace.
Tell me more about this Viva Sales
The focus of Viva Sales is around making it easier for those updating their CRM systems. Whether you are in sales or pre-sales, it can be a pain making sure that you capture updates into your CRM as you have those conversations with your clients and clients-to-be. Viva Sales aims to improve that by embedding into all the Office tools. This isn’t just a plug-in that brings things to one place though. It will use AI to make suggestions and nudges so that if you promised a client something, it will log that against that client and remind you. It will make sure that those leads are followed up. It will change the world!
Ok, we must wait to see more details as the only information released so far is the video below but it gives you a great idea. Having this working regardless of your CRM will be very compelling as well.
How does Viva Sales change things?
Here is the interesting and fundamental question that arises with the announcement of Viva Sales. This feels like a pivot in where Viva is going. Some on social media have spoken about Viva being an HR tool (I even heard the phrase and onboarding told) but it has always been more than that. The introduction of a sales oriented product suggests a move towards more role oriented products that suit particular employees more than others.
Providing specific solutions to different areas of an organisation but with a common look and with the same AI powered goodness that also allows for more integration from other platforms that organisations are using feels like the new direction that Viva is expanding into. I have often spoken about Viva as a brand rather than a product and this expansion fulfils that further. The success of the recognition for the brand is taking off and Microsoft has recognised that and is building on that success.
Viva as the end user Microsoft Graph
This positioning of Viva as a brand feels like the positioning of it as the broader way of the different teams within Microsoft to provide a consistent message. Those close to Microsoft often talk of them “shipping the org chart” and having products competing because teams are competing for attention at Microsoft. A great example is where Microsoft 365 and Dynamics have in the past released similar sounding services and consuls rants and the MVP community are left fielding the “what should I use when” conversation. What this move to Viva Sales shows is not only are those teams working closer together than ever before, with the relationship here between Dynamics and Teams being particularly encouraging, but that there is that aim for that consistent approach externally. This will make life a lot easier for the average user.
This approach follows what the Microsoft Graph has done already. It has become that consistent API across many diverse and fragmented APIs for each product. For the most part, when you learn how it works with one platform, it is consistent with all the others under it - Darrel Miller talks about this in a recent Microsoft 365 Developer podcast episode.
By becoming the common user interface for these different services and building this into Microsoft Teams, the most commonly used service, Viva becomes the common end user tool across all the services to get things done. Users will know that they connect other platforms into it without learning new ways so much and will get the AI power to make it easy to do the right thing.
What will we see next?
We already know that the Glint integration will happen into Viva but what else? Lesley Crook has a great blog post and suggests that ERP could be next. I hope that our Viva Explorer sessions on the battle between Dynamics HR and Viva will lead to more integration for HR self service into Viva, especially around training. Service Desk could benefit from that AI power to suggest what your issue is whatever your background. The education market could also be powered by that magic, connecting in the different learning and course management systems consistently. There is a lot of potential to come.
Find out more about Viva Sales at:
If you want to stay up to date with what is happening, make sure that you follow the adventures of the Viva Explorers as we continue to share the what, the why and the how of Microsoft Viva through conference sessions, videos and blogs.