When Microsoft launched Viva last year, it shaped the platform as an employee portal where you can look up parental leave policies or other internal communications that are more broadly focused on company policies and culture. It further reinforced this idea last month when it released Viva Goals, a Viva module designed to give employees access to their KPIs.
But it seems Microsoft has broader ambitions for Viva than just providing key employee information found on the typical employee intranet. Today it announced the first of what could potentially be multiple jobs supported within Viva, starting with sales.
Emily He, corporate vice president in charge of business applications at Microsoft, says this announcement is something that brings information together in a way for specific jobs that she’s been hearing about for years as a sort of holy grail for corporate and job workers, and it was a of the reasons she was attracted to Microsoft.
“In my mind, Viva Sales really represents a new way of working by breaking down silos of data and breaking down silos of experience,” she told TechCrunch.
She said she has learned one thing from working with salespeople, which is that they have too many tools and they need a way to extract meaningful information from the tools they use to present it in a more centralized way. “They really want a more simplified experience. So Viva Sales empowers a salesperson to use the tools they already love and use every day, including your email system like Outlook, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Teams,” she said.
The tool is built on Office 365 and aligned with Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM. By tagging a customer name or contact person, Viva Sales can automatically pull the documents, spreadsheets, presentations, emails and other materials into the CRM tool, all organized under the tag, greatly reducing the amount of manual data entry.
“Sellers spend a lot of time manually entering account information or forecasting data. So this eliminates [much of the] manual data entry. But more importantly, it now generates a more holistic view of the customer,” he told me.
With all that data stored in one place, it means customers can use it to fuel machine learning models on how to improve sales. “You can use AI and machine learning to make recommendations to the sellers and deliver those recommendations to the sellers wherever they are, whether they’re writing their emails or in virtual meetings,” she said.
While it appears to be Microsoft-centric, it will also support Salesforce CRM by default, and he says they may add support for additional tools over time as customer demand dictates. Furthermore, the company plans to add more job types to Viva over time.
The endgame here seems to be the extension of the employee communication portal so that it contains not only company materials that are useful to employees, but also tools for carrying out their specific work. She says they do this because they’ve heard employees from the same portal asking for this kind of help.
It’s worth noting that Viva Sales is offered for free to Microsoft Dynamic 365 customers, but if you access third-party data, such as using Salesforce, you will be charged for using the tool.
Viva Sales will be available in public preview in July and is slated for GA in the fall. For now, Salesforce is the only other CRM integration available besides Dynamics 365.