By Chris Izquierdo on July 19, 2022



Tags:
Viva,



An Interview With Sparrow Connected’s CEO

In a recent meeting with our Advisory Board, I got talking with Mike Klein and Priya Bates about the Microsoft Suite. They both raised some interesting points that got me thinking about the limitations of the Microsoft Suite as an internal communications tool.

 “Today, organizations don’t think twice about investing in digital enhancements for Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, IT, Warehouse Management, Sales, Training and Development. Yet Internal communication professionals struggle with making the case for tools that will enhance employee communications. They’re constantly being told that Microsoft Suite by itself is all they need. Most communication professionals know that is not true.” 

- Priya Bates, Strategic Advisor, Sparrow Connected 

“IT departments like to talk about how using the off-the-shelf Microsoft Suite is “free”, but it can be really expensive in terms of lost opportunities and clumsy fit with the real work that employees actually do.” 

- Mike Klein, Senior Strategic Advisor, Sparrow Connected 

 We see the scenarios our Advisors explained again and again at Sparrow Connected. Internal communications teams are told to use their organizations' existing Microsoft Suite to deliver communications, but they don't have any say in that decision.  

We all know that, although the Microsoft Suite is a very powerful tool in many ways, it just wasn’t designed for internal communications, especially on its own.  

Internal Communication Professionals Deserve Better 

One of the reasons I started Sparrow Connected is because I truly believe that internal communication professionals deserve better. The work they do can be decisive, even transformative, and they need and deserve better tools to do their jobs well.  

Since the vast majority of companies are using the Microsoft Suite today, we decided to build our platform to integrate with it, not replace it. This is one of the things that really sets us apart from other internal communications platforms that aim to drive employees to their own platforms to consume and engage with content.  

Our goal is to keep you on the platform that you and your employees are already using, which is huge from an adoption perspective.  

If your employees are comfortable using Microsoft Teams, they won’t even have to leave Teams to receive and engage with your corporate communications.  

Enhancing The Power Of Microsoft Through Seamless Integration 

The way we actually do the integration with Microsoft is also unique, as it uses a native Microsoft integration for each Microsoft Suite platform for a truly seamless experience where the content flows nicely into the user interface. 

Here Are A Few Ways Our Integration Elevates & Enhances The Power Of Microsoft For Internal Communications: 

Beyond integration, we take pride in the fact that we’ve developed our platform to add functionality above and beyond what Microsoft provides to meet the unique needs of communications professionals.  

  • We analyze the quality of your content. Detailed content analytics simply do not exist in the Microsoft platform.  
  • We make it really easy to publish content in multiple languages, on multiple channels, at specific times.  
  • We remind and notify employees. Draw attention to published content with notifications and remind those who haven’t viewed content to take a look.  
  • We target intelligently. Content can be targeted towards specific audiences for which the content is relevant.  No more all-employee-emails unless needed means a lot less noise. 
  • We aggregate comments. Regardless of platform, regardless of language, post comments are consolidated so employees can fully engage with the conversation. 
  • We analyze performance. There is a famous quote by George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” See what content employees engage with most, which channels make the most impact, and use this insight to adjust your strategy. 

Doesn’t Microsoft Viva Do All Of These Things? 

I’ll tell you what I think about Viva. Basically, its Microsoft's foray into internal and employee communications and an attempt to improve Microsoft’s intranet capabilities, which have long focused on SharePoint.  

It’s an out-of-the box product. Like its sister, SharePoint, it requires considerable configuration to work in most actual business settings. Yes, it does have some segmentation and analytics features, but not in the depth required by most organizations right out of the box. Enhancing the limited segmentation and analytics features on Microsoft Viva requires significant investments of time and effort by the internal comms team or a financial investment in a third-party vendor. 

However, I do believe that Viva might be enough as a transitional solution for smaller organizations as an improvement over off-the-shelf Teams and Slack. But as soon as the company grows or its internal communications strategy becomes more complex, it will quickly become yet another tool that gets in the way. If you have more than 500 employees across multiple locations and you use Viva, you're not getting the results you're looking for due to the lack of some really important features to deliver the communications that your organization needs. 

It’s also important to consider the non-Microsoft users in an organization. Meaning, the frontline, contract, or seasonal employees who don’t have corporate email addresses or licenses to access the company’s Microsoft Suite. Reaching these employees with important communications on company channels isn’t an option with Viva, or Microsoft on its own. 
 
Another key point to consider is that Microsoft’s primary focus has always been, and continues to be, collaboration. Internal communication is really secondary. I predict that Microsoft will continue to enhance Viva to better meet the needs of internal communications professionals, but that these enhancements might not keep pace relative to vendors who are 100% focused on the needs, challenges, and opportunities, internal communications professionals face.  

Our platform On The Other Hand, Is – And Always Has Been – Internal Communications-Centric.  

We solve your internal communications challenges today and tomorrow by layering valuable features and functionality on top of your existing Microsoft suite of tools and providing you with strategic support and training to maximize your potential, on and off the platform.  

Sparrow Connected gives internal comms professionals the tools they need to communicate with their increasingly global and diverse workforces. Unlike other internal communications platforms on the market that focus on driving clicks to corporate Intranets, we integrate with Microsoft to empower internal communications professionals to reach employees (including those on the frontlines) on the channels they’re already using.  

See how Sparrow Connected can help. Book a demo today

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