How Copilot in Viva Might Affect Digital Employee Experience
Microsoft continues to build on its generative AI momentum with its latest announcement on April 20 that it was bringing Copilot into Microsoft Viva and releasing Viva Glint. The company has rolled out updates and announcements at a steady clip since it extended its partnership with OpenAI in January. Copilot debuted in March, in part with Microsoft 365 Copilot. Microsoft built Copilot on OpenAI's GPT-4 and integrates it with the Microsoft Graph, which ties together a company's internal data found across the Microsoft 365 suite.
Now Copilot is coming to Viva Goals, Viva Topics, Viva Learning, Viva Answers, Viva Engage and Viva Glint. So, what does this latest move mean for productivity and the wider digital workplace?
Bringing End-to-End Employee Experiences Closer to Reality
Viva and Teams have been a very transformational new toolset for corporate IT departments to help them build an end-to-end employee experience platform, said industry analyst Josh Bersin. Glint, which is one of the most scalable and flexible engagement survey tools, is going to make Viva even more useful and interesting to companies, he continued.
But when it comes to how well these tools improve employee experience, he said, it will come down to individual companies. Viva and Glint alone won’t “simplify” work unless the IT and HR teams use it to embed their own systems (payroll, expense, training, onboarding, benefits) into Viva and give employees one-stop shopping.
Given Microsoft’s market share (70% or higher), more and more companies are embracing this platform, but it does face a fair amount of competition. "ServiceNow, FirstUp, and many other vendors offer similar offerings so I think Microsoft’s suite will appeal to companies who are very Microsoft-centric," he said. "Glint competes with Qualtrics, Medallia, Peakon and other excellent tools so Microsoft shops will likely, over time, want to move to Glint to keep all the employee tools from fewer vendors."
As far as the addition of Copilot goes, Bersin said that there are many kinks yet to be worked out, but Microsoft is now far ahead of Google in all these employee productivity areas, so we can expect further growth in the future.
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Another Step Towards Microsoft Dominance?
Benjamin Niaulin, VP product at ShareGate and a Microsoft MVP, agreed. “Let's call it like it is,” he said. “Microsoft is dominating the productivity space.”
He pointed to the 300 million monthly active users on Teams and the fact that Teams Premium is one of their fastest-growing modern work products ever as evidence. He pointed to what Microsoft calls "The Graph," its "gateway to data and intelligence in M365" as a unique competitive advantage, particularly "when it comes to building AI-enhanced value, especially in new verticals and categories."
With the announcements around Copilot and Microsoft 365, but more importantly, the Viva Suite, Niaulin said Microsoft is going to activate competition and innovation in this market category. He did voice a note of caution however, saying is too early to say if it will be a market breaker given the scale of current activity in the space and adding AI alone won't necessarily tip the scales of usage over.
“That said, they are continuing to build an incredible argument to convince everyone to be on Microsoft 365," he said.
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Elevating Experience with AI
The introduction of Copilot into Microsoft Viva will further elevate the platform's effectiveness, said Samuel Hamway, research analyst at Miami-based Nucleus Research covering enterprise applications. This development will streamline workflows, improve communication and increase overall productivity, he added.
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Hamway also believes that the AI assistance will help employees navigate their tasks more efficiently, making it easier for them to focus on higher-value activities and collaboration. The addition of Glint into the mix will help organizations better understand and address the needs of their employees, leading to more engaged and satisfied teams.
"While it may not be an absolute market breaker, Viva with Glint will undoubtedly enhance the platform's capabilities, making it more competitive in the employee engagement and experience market," he said. "As for the future of Copilot, its potential for development is vast. We can expect continuous improvements and feature expansions to better assist users in various tasks, streamline workflows, and increase productivity. Microsoft may also explore integrating Copilot with other Microsoft services and products to provide a more seamless and cohesive experience across their entire ecosystem.”
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Early Days for Copilot, Get Your Security in Order
There’s still a lot to learn about the potential uses of Copilot in Viva, said Rich Wood, VP of Microsoft Partnerships at Rightpoint.
The greatest immediate value that jumped out, he said, was in knowledge management use cases vis-a-vis Viva Topics.
“We’ve been using cognitive search and machine learning to create contextual knowledge management solutions for the past five years," he said. "We’ve been adding generative AI — and what I’d call the 'familiar informality' of natural language queries and responses — as a gatekeeper to that sort of thing, 'the right knowledge at the right time for you and your role,' as it were, is fascinating.”
But, he added, if you want to get value from Copilot, it will also accelerate the timeline of dealing with some of your technical debt. The most practical and immediate example is security, even assuming you’re up to speed with the latest Microsoft cloud productivity tools, he continued.
“Copilot inherits your existing M365 security architecture, so a natural and necessary step to any adoption of Copilot will need to be an exhaustive security audit on your content architecture and the content itself,” he said.
About the Author
David is a European-based journalist of 35 years who has spent the last 15 following the development of workplace technologies, from the early days of document management, enterprise content management and content services. Now, with the development of new remote and hybrid work models, he covers the evolution of technologies that enable collaboration, communications and work and has recently spent a great deal of time exploring the far reaches of AI, generative AI and General AI.