Microsoft = Customer Zero?


Hi folks! 👋 

Mariam Mushtaq here from HR Brain Pickings as usual, bringing you the second edition of this week on the latest goings-on in the world of HR! 🙌

In This Edition:

I was listening to Josh Bersin’s podcast on how Microsoft is leading HR innovations, which will be today's focus. As "Customer Zero," Microsoft is setting new benchmarks with their innovative approaches. Let’s get into it. 📔 

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What’s in this document: This document outlines key steps and considerations for HR leaders tasked with developing a rewards and recognition program.

Microsoft 🤝 HR Innovation

Microsoft is a global leader in their approach to HR. Under the leadership of Kathleen Hogan, their HR team thrives on a growth mindset, constantly iterating and experimenting to improve. 🙌 

Why does Microsoft call themselves Customer Zero? 🤔

"Customer Zero" is Microsoft's evolved approach to the concept of "dogfooding," where they use their own products and services internally before releasing them to the market. 🤯 

This process allows Microsoft to refine and improve their solutions based on real-world use and feedback from their employees. By being the first to deploy, test, and collect feedback on new capabilities like M365 Copilot, Microsoft ensures their products exceed both their employees' and customers' expectations, enhancing productivity and utility for all users.

Microsoft's role as "Customer Zero" highlights the potential of AI and skills-based frameworks in HR. Their approach serves as a blueprint for other organizations looking to integrate advanced technologies into their HR practices.  

Let’s look at some of their approaches more closely:

Skills-based Workforce 👥 

  • Central to Microsoft’s HR strategy is the development of a skills-based employee experience. Utilizing EX tools, they are integrating skills data directly into everyday workflows. This initiative aims to provide personalized career development insights, enhancing employee engagement and productivity.

  • For instance, an employee, Alex, is preparing for a big meeting. Microsoft Viva, an employee experience tool, recognizes that Alex has a skill gap in advanced presentation techniques. Viva automatically suggests a short, relevant training session on effective presentations that Alex can complete before the meeting. It also provides personalized coaching tips on meeting management and well-being, helping Alex feel more confident and prepared. 😲 

  • This approach demonstrates Microsoft's commitment to holistic employee development by ensuring that employees receive timely, personalized support that enhances their skills and overall productivity. 🛠️

AI Integration in HR Practices 🤖 

  • Microsoft is developing interfaces that connect various tools and platforms, allowing seamless access to information through their Copilot.

  • For example, consider an employee, Jamie, who has a crucial meeting with their team. As Jamie prepares, the Microsoft Copilot analyzes their calendar, the meeting agenda, and the participants' profiles. It then provides AI-driven tips on key points to address based on the participants' expertise and previous interactions. 📆 

  • By seamlessly integrating these tools, Microsoft ensures that Jamie is well-prepared and continuously developing relevant skills, thus enhancing overall productivity and growth. 🤖

Addressing Skills Taxonomy Challenges

  • Microsoft is tackling the complex issue of skills taxonomies by harmonizing different systems across platforms like LinkedIn and their internal frameworks. But what exactly is a skills taxonomy? Simply put, it's a structured way to categorize and organize different skills within an organization.

  • Imagine: a company has multiple databases listing employee skills. One system might categorize "Project Management" under "Leadership Skills," while another lists it as a "Technical Skill." This inconsistency can lead to confusion and inefficiency. 😕 

  • To solve this, Microsoft is creating a unified, comprehensive skills framework → this involves standardizing how skills are categorized across various platforms, ensuring that "Project Management" is consistently recognized regardless of where the data comes from. 🔢 

  • This approach enhances the accuracy and utility of skills data for HR decisions, making it easier to match employees with the right opportunities and training programs.

The insights from Microsoft’s journey underscore the significant impact AI technologies can have on HR. By focusing on user-centric design and practical applications, Microsoft is setting new standards for HR technology and employee experience. 🌐

Takeaways for HR leaders like you:

  1. Embrace a Growth Mindset: Encourage your HR team to experiment with new ideas and learn from other companies.

  2. Look into Skills-Based Development: Explore tools that can help integrate skills data into daily activities.

  3. Invest in AI Tools: Invest in AI solutions that can provide actionable insights and automate routine tasks. (think Albus)

  4. Create a Unified Skills Framework: Work towards harmonizing skills data from different sources to create a cohesive framework. Use this unified data to make more informed HR decisions, from recruitment to internal mobility.

  5. Plan for Future-Ready HR: Start planning and integrating AI into your HR strategy to stay ahead of the curve. Keep iterating and improving your HR practices to ensure they meet the evolving needs of your organization.

Let me acknowledge that not all organizations can afford or invest in the same tools or take the same approach as Microsoft. 🙂 

However, whether you're a small business or a large enterprise, there are valuable lessons here to enhance your HR practices and drive better outcomes for your teams. 💼

That’s a wrap for today!

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Today’s HR Reads for You 📚️ 

  1. Employees need to avail their PTOs: 🏖️ 7 Tips to Promote Paid Time Off in Your Workplace

  2. 🗣️ Unpopular opinion: you don’t HAVE to bond and build connections with your peers. But I can’t deny that it can have negativesBeing isolated at work can damage your career: 5 ways to be more social

  3. 🏚️ Bosses hate it and workers love it: Who Really Benefits From the Great Remote-Work Experiment?


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