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Microsoft helps users shift to hybrid work with Microsoft Viva launch

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Microsoft has announced a new platform within Microsoft 365 called Microsoft Viva. Microsoft 365 Corporate Vice President Jared Spataro joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss.

Video Transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

AKIKO FUJITA: The shift to work from home has led to a huge boost for Microsoft. No surprise there. The company is seeing growth accelerate in everything from its cloud business to communications software. And now it's doubling down on the remote workspace with a new platform. Let's bring in Jared Spataro. He is Microsoft 365 Corporate Vice President. We've also got our tech reporter, Dan Howley joining in on the conversation.

Jared, is good to talk to you. It certainly seems like a timely discussion. Yesterday, another company, Salesforce coming forward, saying that they will now allow their workforce to work from home permanently. Microsoft has been on this track for a while, but walk me through sort of the bigger trajectory you see in this, and why Microsoft is doubling down in the remote workspace.

JARED SPATARO: Yeah, sure thing, what a time. We see this as kind of the second big wave of digital transformation that's sweeping over business. The first one we believe started with the PC. It included everything from tablets to what we did on smartphones. What's happened during the pandemic however, is that we've seen kind of the physical space, the connection that people have has been removed. And companies still need to get work done. They still need to create an experience that binds people together, helps them to team.

We have a great set of tools, including what we call Microsoft Teams, that provide an organizing layer for that work to get done. But as we've been working with our customers, what we've seen, is those tools alone just aren't enough. They need a way to kind of foster trust, to build corporate culture, to ensure that everybody is connected in a way that they have never been able to do previously with digital tools. And that's what this new platform, it's called Viva, is meant to do. It builds right on top of teams, provides new experiences so that people can connect and get their work done.

DAN HOWLEY: Jared, so I guess going through Viva, we also have our own internal portal here at Yahoo Finance. And I may or may not look at it very frequently, but I guess, is this meant to kind of replace that and provide people with a means to kind of get an easier access to their corporate portal without having to go to a different website or without having to jump out of the work they're already doing?

JARED SPATARO: Yeah, Dan, that's one aspect of what we're seeing here. So if you take it from the portal perspective, one of the biggest problems we've seen with portals, just as you indicated, historically, has been getting people there. I think over time, people published a lot of really great things in their company portals. The question was, did anybody see it?

And so what we're trying to do with Viva, is build directly within teams. As we announced a couple of months ago, we have over 115 million daily active users and teams. So again, that organizing layer is collaboration, communication all together in one place. We want to meet those end users where they are, and then inject in essentially that communication that helps them stay in touch, both with the organization and with other people that matter, other groups that matter.

So yes, one aspect of it, as you indicate, in some ways, could be thought of as almost like the modernization of the company portal. But beyond that, we also look at well-being. We're also providing things like insights. We're helping people to understand how they work and helping them to increase their performance. So it's much more than just the modernization of a portal.

AKIKO FUJITA: On that front, you've got a lot of clarity on spending of a lot of your enterprise customers. Certainly a lot of that has been accelerated over the last year. But I wonder what you're seeing on that front in terms of the investments some of your clients are willing to put forward to really accelerate this remote work environment. And given that Microsoft has a number of the pieces in the stack, do you think that puts you at an advantage?

JARED SPATARO: Well, we certainly think there's an opportunity here. If we take a step back for a second and look at the market, we see that companies already are spending over $300 billion a year on employee experience. So thinking about just kind of how they help their employees get their work done. What we think will be durable post pandemic in this second wave of digital transformation, really is that idea that a lot of the employee experience is going to need to move digital. And the big question is, what's the platform? How do you do that? How do you do that on an ongoing basis?

So we look at that $300 billion worth of spend, we think we can help make that more efficient, we can help people create kind of this new layer that will bridge between someone working at home, someone working at the office and everything in between. That's what Viva is meant to do. So yes, we certainly see an opportunity here. What's most important to us is really getting in the trenches with our customers, understanding what their pain points are, and helping them build up solutions.

DAN HOWLEY: Jared, if I'm a regular employee and I'm using Viva, is there kind of a way that I can know what my office can see what I'm doing? Does my office have greater insight into what I'm doing? In other words, an I kind of being spied on at any point or is it just different than that?

JARED SPATARO: Boy, that's one, Dan, one of the first questions that comes up, particularly as it relates to what we call Insight. So again, Viva has a module that's called Viva Insights. The idea here, is that we provide two things through Insights. One is almost like a Fitbit for the individual at work. This allows them to kind of see how they're performing and how they could improve their performance.

So as an example, it might say to me, hey, it looks like your calendar is pretty full with meetings. Do you have enough focus time to actually get your work done? It kind of just prompts those types of things, almost like a digital assistant that really is focused in on what I'm doing every day. The second part, as you indicated, is that we take those signals, things that are happening across the organization, and we aggregate them up and allow managers and leaders to see the different trends that are happening in the organization. One simple example there is we can see if people are starting to work more after hours than they have against a previous baseline.

Now the good news is, privacy is very important to us. We believe those data-driven insights will be key to improving performance over the long term. But we also believe that privacy is just a fundamental human right. And so the way that we're protecting it within Viva, is we always make sure that the Insights are aggregated and be identified when they're seen by someone around or above you. And we don't aggregate or de-identifiy until we have at least 10 different sources. So 10 different individuals that we're aggregating together. And that idea of aggregation, de-identification helps us to ensure that we are able to protect people's privacy.

ZACK GUZMAN: Jared, last question from me here in terms of this work from home environment, obviously, a bit of a pro, con. You can work from wherever, a lot of flexibility, a lot of upside. Con would be. by the same token, you never really leave the office. You got Teams, you got Slack everywhere you go. Your own surveys points to burnout in the pandemic. And if I was any more burnt out, I would be in an urn. So I feel the frustration here. But what does Viva do to maybe protect people on the burnout front?

JARED SPATARO: Yeah, just picking up on that theme, over 30% of people say that they have an increased sense of burnout after the pandemic started. So we definitely see that. If I look at what Viva does here, the well-being insights are really meant to help you with burnout. And in particular, we have some really interesting features that are being introduced.

One is a virtual commute, as an example. You may think that you don't miss your commute at all, but it turns out that the research shows us that a commute is a really good way to kind of ramp up into your workday and a ramp up out of your workday to kind of have a buffer there, and make sure it doesn't bleed into the rest of your life.

And so a virtual commute provided by Viva just allows you to take that time to really get your head set. I'm about ready to start work. What do I need to accomplish? What is in front of me? And then when you're ready to stop, say, hey, I'm going to put a boundary here. What am I going to do the next day, tomorrow? So as funny as it may sound, some of the things, the kind of patterns that we see previously, we still want to help you do so that you can maintain your own well-being and not burn out.

ZACK GUZMAN: Very interesting stuff. Jared Spataro on Microsoft 365, Corporate Vice President, appreciate you coming on here, alongside Yahoo Finance's Dan Howley. Thanks to you both and be well.