When Microsoft launched Viva last year, it framed the platform as an employee portal where you might go to find out parental leave policy or other internal communications directed more generally at 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 that Microsoft has broader ambitions for Viva than simply providing important information for employees found in the typical employee intranet. Today, it announced the first of what could be multiple jobs supported inside Viva, starting with sales.
Emily He, corporate vice president in charge of business applications at Microsoft, says that this announcement is something that brings information together in a way for specific jobs that she’s been hearing about as a kind of employee holy grail for years across companies and jobs, and it was one of the reasons she was drawn to Microsoft.
“Viva Sales in my mind really represents a new way of working by breaking down silos of data and breaking down silos of experience,” she told TechCrunch.
She said one thing she has learned in working with salespeople is that they have too many tools and they need a way to pull meaningful information out of the tools they are using to present it in a more centralized way. “They really want a more simplified experience. So Viva Sales enables a seller to use the tools they already love and use every day including your email system like Outlook, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, as well as Teams,” she said.
The tool is built on Office 365 and tuned for Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM. By tagging a customer name or contact, Viva Sales can pull the documents, spreadsheets, presentations, emails and other materials into the CRM tool automatically, all organized under the tag, greatly reducing the amount of manual data entry required.
“Sellers do spend a lot of time manually entering account information or forecasting data. So this eliminates [much of the] manual data entry. But more importantly, now it generates a more holistic view of the customer,” He told me.
With all that data stored in a single place, it means that customers can use it to fuel machine learning models around how to improve sales. “You can use AI and machine learning to come up with recommendations for 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, out of the box it will also support Salesforce CRM, and He says that they may add support for additional tools over time as customer demand dictates. Further, the company plans to add more job types to Viva over time.
The end game here appears to be extending the employee communications portal to include not only the company materials that are useful to employees, but also tools for doing their specific jobs. She says they are doing this because they have been hearing employees asking for this kind of help from inside the same portal.
It’s worth mentioning that Viva Sales will be offered for free to Microsoft Dynamic 365 customers, but as you access third-party data like using Salesforce, you will be charged for using the tool.
Viva Sales will be available in public preview in July and is scheduled to GA in the fall. For now, the only other CRM integration available besides Dynamics 365 will be Salesforce.