Summary

Avanade is a leading provider of innovative digital and cloud-enabled services, business solutions, and design-led experiences, and it relies heavily on the power of people. Avanade believes in taking advantage of the knowledge and experiences held by each individual to build and provide the best offerings and services for its customers. Because of this, sharing expertise, project or deliverable examples, templates, and other knowledge among one another is key to the company’s success and the success of the businesses it serves. Looking for a solution that would enable Avanade employees to quickly find the exact expert, example or template required to provide businesses with the right digital offerings, Avanade deployed Microsoft Viva Topics.

Challenge

As an organization whose services are built on and around Microsoft technologies, Avanade’s workforce of 50,000 professionals are experienced, heavy users of collaboration solutions like Yammer and Microsoft Teams. But even with top-notch approaches to collaboration, finding the right people, the best examples of deliverables, or the best templates often required some digging and building what some employees refer to as a “chain of experts.” Many knowledge experts are familiar with this concept, in which an employee starts a conversation with one expert and is then handed off down a chain of people until the correct team member is identified.

As requests for innovative digital workplace solutions surged, Avanade employees wanted a solution that eliminated the need for extensive email threads or cumbersome searches and aligned with their “Teams as the experience platform” approach. They wanted a solution to quickly provide businesses with the right digital offerings and remove the need to sift through emails, Yammer communities, or Teams sites and chats to find the exact expert, example, or template they required.

Strategy

Microsoft launched a preview program in January 2020, which was limited to approximately 60 customers around the globe, to test out and provide feedback on powerful new AI-driven knowledge solutions prior to their release. As program participants, Avanade team members were able to attend product demonstrations, get exclusive updates to the roadmap, test products as they were developed and provide feedback, and give key insights on how they felt the solutions would be best utilized.

In testing the capabilities of Microsoft Viva Topics, which uses AI to automatically reason over an organization’s data and then identify, process, and organize it to make knowledge easier to discover and use, Avanade found the tool it needed to help reduce its discovery challenges. “The value of Viva Topics is really about placing information that people need in the places they’re hanging out,” says Marci Jenkins, Workplace IT Executive at Avanade.

Unlike most organizations where new technologies are gradually rolled out from one department to another, Avanade chose to offer Viva Topics to the entire company, enabling all employees to contribute to the curation around topics. “The power of Viva Topics is in bringing together AI and the smartness and experience of our people,” says Jenkins. Crawling the documents in SharePoint, Viva Topics has begun identifying thousands of topics across the company’s Microsoft tenant, including Avanade offerings, Microsoft solutions, industries, customers, and even strategic initiatives.

Results

Rather than broadcasting pleas for help on a Yammer site or initiating a chain of experts through Outlook, employees can search in SharePoint or see topics they’re interested in highlighted on the SharePoint page they’re already viewing. And they can quickly find experts or assets for their projects or subject areas without being bombarded with pages of search results.

“I’ve started going to SharePoint and searching on some of the questions that I have or the type of asset that I’m looking for across the organization, and it’s really cool to see what pops up in my search results,” says Hannemann. “Not only is the topic page suggested to me if there’s a match, but it will also present different documents and highlight the presence of the keyword that I’m searching for.”

Over the next few years, Avanade looks forward to the generation of topics for the more than 600 customers it’s worked with. Each will highlight the key account team members as experts and document successful proofs of concept as tagged content, which will further help the company provide the best offerings and services to its customers.

The value of Viva Topics is really about placing information that people need in the places they’re hanging out…. It’s a way for the user to learn and start to explore in the moment—the moment that matters."

- Marci Jenkins

Workplace IT Executive
Avanade