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Empowering Comms with Viva Engage & Copilot

March 24, 2023
11 min read
Empowering Comms with Viva Engage & Copilot
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Microsoft 365 Copilot announcements have made their way to Viva Engage! These two are the perfect pair and will have a massive impact on enterprise social!

Video Transcript

Hi everyone. My name is Richard Harbridge. An MVP of many years.

The announcements around Viva Engage are now public and live. So we can now talk about how enterprise social networks, how communities, and how places where people can have a voice like a storyline, experience as well as questions and answers can all be enriched and improved with AI. Now, Microsoft has a few ideas on how we are going to implement this as we look forward and I think most of them are wonderful ideas. I hope you guys are just as excited as I am about these changes.

The first and most simple way to think about using AI is to help generate better and new content. In this regard, we always have people that are consumers of social but often, a very small percentage of them are contributors. And this is because it's a taxing endeavor to try and communicate or share within a social network.

Here what we have is the ability to create conversation starters. I can see as an example a recent activity like a give campaign or some other sort of coordinated campaign that I'm a big fan of. I can create awareness for that, I can amplify it so other people are aware that it exists and that I care about it, and that I want to see it be successful.

I can see other things like a live event, maybe an AMA event that happened recently, and I can talk about how that resonated with me and what answers were really particularly relevant to me. So there are things like that. Whether it's amplification and awareness based or whether it's your own perspective, we now have ways to do that more easily, more rapidly, and more effectively with AI.

Now when we're making this particular motion, one of the things that are great about it is it allows us to do this where we can share our tone and perspective so we can make sure that our perspective is reflected. This allows us to see a summary of what's been discussed or what this is about. Kind of, again, helping us write it where we give some perspective, some opinions within that, and then it generates the text for us.

The rest of the material, we can regenerate, we're always in control, but it gives us that speed of acceleration to create that content more rapidly. What's more, it helps us improve that content with reference links to materials or common answers to questions and other things that relate to it. Again, this helps make our content more linked, more relevant, and more useful.

If this is the entry point that some people have to that content, they're not missing out on things that other people might write about or have relevance for. This creates more of a connection and a network effect around the posts and content we create, which is only a positive change. At the same time, commenting and responding is important as well.

One of the struggles that I have with leaders today is. When we look at the new Viva Engage analytics, a lot of them are surprised at how much they may struggle to take the time to respond to people who have commented on their posts. Sometimes they get 100 posts of comments, and optimally, in a social network perspective, if you're using something like LinkedIn or whatever, you would respond to each of those comments.

It's a really healthy thing. It shows people that you've heard them, you've seen them, and you've recognized them. This is even more important in an internal context because these are employees that often you're a mentor to or you're a leader directly towards.

So what we want to do is make sure that we acknowledge those. Now we have analytics that tells us how we are doing on that. Are we doing 2% of all the people who comment on us and respond to them? But we also now have tools that actually can show us some of those comments, how we can auto-generate a response again, kind of getting us started in the same way that generating a conversation starter kind of accelerates that work. Here's a way that we can help respond to that.

It's not what you should post, it's an idea of how to post it, and then you would tweak it and adjust it again. You're always in the driver's seat. This is quite useful, and I think it's acceptable for most organizations that I talk with for you to use some of this in a very quick way to respond to I don't want to say platitudes, but very positive comments when someone says, oh, this was really great.

Hey, I really appreciate I'm glad this resonated with you; is still seeing and hearing them, but it doesn't necessarily mean you need to take a ton of time to write out each of those individually. Now, this brings up another question, which is what about answers to questions and answers in the organization? These typically have a couple of formats that have changed. One of the biggest changes that have happened in the last couple of months is when organizations have been using the new Q and A features provided by Viva Topics and others; they can actually see that when you post a question.

Just before you click that post button, just like if you're like me, you get ten times smarter. After you click, send on an email. And you love that it says, hey, Richard, you're about to send an email after hours.

Or hey Richard, you forgot to add an attachment here. What it's doing is, hey, before you post this question, note that this question might not be detailed enough. There might be things that you can enrich this question with to make it easier, more accessible to others, more relevant for search and experience later, or even just to help you get a more effective answer.

So this is one of those things that, a lot of times in forums, you'll see the first responses to questions. Can you tell me more? And so, again, this saves time in that cycle. At the same time, what we can do is we can use it to summarize and support answers. As an example, maybe when you posted that question, you couldn't find an answer quickly, even with AI assistance.

But when someone else goes to answer that question, a bit of time has passed, and there are actually a few different potential relevant resources or references that will help either enrich the answer that they provide or even help accelerate the response for an answer. In both instances, we can use AI still with a human leading to essentially help support a quicker response rate and answer rate for these questions. Now, as you know, sometimes you have multiple answers.

Yeah, there's one sort of official best answer, but there's a lot of contextual answers that are extremely relevant and enrich that primary answer. In this instance, what you can use is AI to summarize those answers, to kind of provide what they all mean together, which is a really powerful, wonderful way in which we can quickly consume potentially many threads. I mean, I've seen answers where they have like six or seven highly upvoted answer contexts that can be summarized in a much shorter way, which makes it easier to consume.

This also means that eventually, over time, topic pages and facts, and other things, can be auto-generated and aggregated more effectively. This is kind of a hint to what you might see around topics, but there's more to talk about there as Microsoft makes those publicly available. Now, I could see this creating some concerns or confusion.
As an example, what does this mean to our enterprise social networks for many of us who've been using Yammer for years and now we're making this transition towards viva engage with storylines, with questions and answers being a more dominant narrative, it creates some wonderful opportunities for us to really inspect what should our social networks be about. And as AI has an impact on questions and answers especially. We've already seen this, by the way, with GPT Four and other ones where we've helped customers use these tools in the earlier stages.

What we found is that it reduces the number of questions. Which makes sense, right? Because just like how the experience when you start to write the question, here are some similar questions that maybe already have your answers. As it provides those experiences, it often reduces the number of new questions that we post because they're redundant, they're not necessary.

It allows us to amplify the questions that do matter to us or that help us with quick responses and things like that. What this means is it might create less noise, and it certainly organizes Q and A more effectively so that more and more focus can be put on the human connection. The serendipitous value that we get when we connect outside of our working teams is what Eva Engage is all about.

In this way, it's really important for us as organizations to take a firm stance and proactive stance on leading our individuals across the organization, our employees, and our leaders and helping them understand how and when to use this AI enrichment. It's really important that they still have their authentic selves presented within this. Otherwise, it's not really a human-to-human connection that's being fostered within our network.

This also means that there are opportunities for interesting guardrails and governance discussions that we couldn't have in the previous model. Again, historically some organizations have been using this for leaders, but it's been a bit of a privileged opportunity where those leaders have technologists that support them, or they have wonderful opportunities to use these new tools for a variety of reasons. And so they're using them to enrich their content, but not everyone else is able to use that same capability or that tools.

So Microsoft releasing this to more people is good. It provides a more level playing field, which I'll come back to in a little bit, but it also creates a really wonderful opportunity because it's a closed system if you don't know this. The way the Copilot experience works is it uses Microsoft 365 to ground the information and the responses back from the LLM models.

What this basically means is Microsoft has the ability long term; I'm not saying they're doing it now. They have the ability to determine what content is AI enriched and how it was AI enriched. And that can eventually improve the way analytics and other types of governance tools could work.

As an example, in the customer experience space, employee experience often lags behind customer experience. In the customer experience space, they've been using AI very heavily to support a lot of different things. We've seen the downsides of this with positive reviews generated by AI and negative reviews generated by AI, and the systems are struggling more and more with AI's acceleration to make sense of those.

The difference is, in this particular instance, we actually have the whole story of exactly when and how people used AI there. So that creates more opportunities from policy to our own feedback to Microsoft to improve and enrich these experiences so that they can be more effective in terms of guardrails or prompting or guidance for end users. And, of course, we ourselves can take an active role in that in defining how these technologies should be best used.

What are good examples of using them, what are bad examples of using them, and more therein? The important thing about all of this is that you're in control. I think Microsoft's approach to this is really good because, in all the examples that you've seen either visually or that you've seen around Vivaengage, we are in the control seat.
And I do think the most positive thing I think out of all of this is I'm in discussions often with union leaders or policymakers, especially the larger customers we work with. And we see this as a really positive change because there are lots of people who have wonderful perspectives. And the whole point of Viva Engage is to give people a voice, to give people a way to share and communicate with people outside their working group.

And what we found is that there are challenges to that. Some people's English control or language control might be a little bit lower, or perhaps they don't have the same educational background or privilege in terms of experience to do these things. So them having the ability to do this faster, them having the ability to have their writing quality be much higher, those are all things that allow them to have a more unbiased perspective of their voice across the organization.

And I think that that's only a positive thing. I think everyone should have the same attention that people give them. And I think this provides that more level playing field for that.

So if you're an employee, if you're a leader, a lowercase L leader without the role authority or a capital L leader with role authority, I think Viva Engage is going to be hugely impactful, specifically around Copilot for you. And I think that you should be as excited as I am about how much this is going to change the industry for the better and how we should all kind of start to think about how to help each other as peers or help each other from a leadership perspective. Anyways, I hope you yourself are digging into Viva Engage and its current experience set, waiting for that Copilot solution set to hit your own organization and tenant.
And I hope this has been helpful to you.

See you soon.

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