Microsoft is adding more new features to its Teams collaboration and Viva employee-experience services that are aimed at frontline workers. On January 12, Microsoft announced plans for these features for retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and other workers who interacted directly with customers and released some new data about frontline workers as part of its Work Trend Index series of reports.
According to Microsoft-cited stats, there are two billion frontline workers worldwide, who represent 80% of the global workforce. Microsoft officials said they'd seen 400% growth (from some undisclosed number) in monthly active usage of its Teams platform among frontline workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020 to November 2021. Microsoft officials interviewed 9,600 frontline workers and managers from October to November 2021 across eight industries and in eight countries as part of its work to figure out what these "deskless" workers need from technology.
In the name of improving the work experience of frontline workers, Microsoft is making some incremental updates to Teams and Viva.
Microsoft is making scheduled queuing for virtual appointments generally available for Teams. It is adding more integrations with partners like SAP SuccessFactors, Cornerstone OnDemand, and Saba Cloud to its Viva Learning App for training and upskilling. It is enhancing Teams' integration with Zebra Reflexis, which connects the Reflexis Workforce Management solution with the Shifts app in Teams. And it is rolling out the Teams Walkie Talkie app on a variety of Zebra Technologies' Mobile computers.
Microsoft officials also announced today that its Cloud for Retail vertical bundle will be generally available starting February 1. Cloud for Retail is one of a handful of Microsoft vertical cloud offerings that include templates, programming interfaces, and AI functionality.
In January 2021, Microsoft took the wraps off the Microsoft Cloud for Retail; the second announced Microsoft industry cloud bundle. Cloud for Retail is meant to provide an "end-to-end shopper journey." Like the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, it combines services and features from Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform and adds Microsoft Advertising specifically for retail customers. Like the healthcare cloud offering, Cloud for Retail is meant to bring together disparate data sources via a common data model.