When Microsoft bought Seattle-based start-up Ally.io in October 2021, it shared plans to pull the objective and key result (OKR) tracking software into its Viva employee experience platform. That was the last we heard about Ally.io until this week, when Microsoft announced a private preview of Viva Goals, built on the software from the Ally.io acquisition.
According to a blog post written by Ally.io founder and corporate VP of Microsoft Viva Goals Vetri Vellore, Viva Goals aims to "provide clarity on employees’ work and how that work makes an impact on the business’s most important priorities."
Viva Goals is just the latest module in the Viva suite. Microsoft launched Viva in February 2021 to improve employee "engagement, learning, well-being and knowledge discovery, directly into the flow of people’s work." It aimed to accomplish this across four main categories:
- Viva Connections: Internal communications and access to reference information.
- Viva Insights: Wellbeing metrics for individuals and managers.
- Viva Learning: An E-learning marketplace that includes LinkedIn Learning and integrations with other sources such as Coursera, Cornerstone and Saba.
- Viva Topics: Wiki-like cards that summarize terms and link to internal experts and resources.
Goal tracking software saw a surge of interest over the last two years of the pandemic, as managers tried to keep remote teams aligned and on track with specific goals and deadlines. VC firms have been pouring money into the area as a result with Ally.io competitors WorkBoard, Lattice and Culture Amp all landing funding in recent years.
Viva Goals is expected in general availability later this year and will come automatically with the Microsoft Viva suite subscription.
Hidden Dangers in ML Algorithms
A recent study out of Cornell University suggests it might be time for some companies to put on the brakes with machine learning (ML) initiatives. Noting the prevalent use of service providers to train machine learning algorithms, the authors warned of the relative ease with which malicious actors could introduce undetectable backdoors in classifiers.
A classifier is a type of machine learning algorithm used to assign a class label to a data input.
On the surface, these backdoors behave normally, but buried within them are mechanisms to change the classification of any input, with only a slight perturbation.
Spectrum IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) called the potential result a "catastrophic vulnerability," and cited one of the study's co-authors Shafi Goldwasser who warned organizations not to blindly trust a machine-learning model that it did not train itself: "This takeaway is especially important today due to the growing use of external service providers to train machine-learning models that are eventually responsible for decisions that profoundly impact individuals and society at large."
This is just the latest in a series of concerns being raised as AI adoption increases within corporations — and in our personal lives.
According to the recently published IBM Global AI Adoption Index 2022, 35% of companies currently use AI in their business, and an additional 42% report they are exploring its use.
The report found AI adoption is growing steadily, up four points from 2021 with AI being used to address labor and skills shortage by automating repetitive tasks. Within the context of the Cornell study, the top impediment cited to AI adoption for businesses was limited AI skills, expertise or knowledge (34%) and the third most cited impediment, lack of tools or platforms to develop models (25%), are revealing, as these point the way to using a service provider to aid in algorithm training.
Google Revisits G Suite Legacy Timeline
This week the company announced it would extend the deadline yet again to December 2022. At the time of this writing, the current plan is:
- Starting December 1, 2022 (previously June 1, 2022): You will no longer be able to edit any remaining classic Sites in your domain.
- Starting January 1, 2023 (previously July 1, 2022): Classic Sites will no longer be viewable unless they are converted to new Google Sites.
The fate of the free offering Google introduced in February to offset the impact of the new services is unclear.
The company gave no indication why it changed its original decision, but the process has been messy to say the least. One potential driver of the change — and this is pure speculation — is that customer who were considering a move to the paid version of Workspace may have decided to pay a bit more and move to a different provider entirely. Whatever the reason is, it is unlikely to help Google's position in an already cutthroat space.
Miro Releases v2.0 of Developer Platform
Finally this week, San Francisco-based Miro announced the release of the next generation of its developer platform as well as a number of new partner integrations, which, the company claims, will help users collaborate more inclusively when they are working together and alone.
This is a major upgrade, including new frameworks to build custom apps and workflows inside and outside of Miro. Other new additions include:
- Miro Developer Platform Rest APIs: New tools for the development of server-side applications for bulk management of users and boards and for synchronizing content between Miro and other systems.
- Miro Live Embed: A framework to allow access to any Miro board directly from a third-party application, for both synchronous and asynchronous work.
It also looked at new ways of bridging the gap between on-site workers and remote workers. Some notable additions include:
- Google Meet: Beginning in June, teams in Google Meet can simply open the activities panel in Meet and launch Miro to start creating in a new board or collaborating in an existing board.
- Webex: Webex users will soon be able to launch their Miro boards directly inside any Webex meeting to collaborate with teammates in their meeting space without ever leaving the Webex app.
Miro has managed to find a sweet spot in the collaboration space. With remote and hybrid work becoming the norm, the digital whiteboard provider now claims 35 million users and counts nearly all of the Fortune 100 companies as clients.
The company raised $400 million in Series C funding in January, which gave it a $17.5 billion valuation and brought the total sum raised to $476 million since the company was founded in 2011.