Microsoft Viva (The Employee Experience Platform (EXP)


Microsoft Viva was launched in February 2021 and some elements are still being rolled out. Is it something your organisation should be adopting? If so, when, how and why are typical questions you will be asking.

The Microsoft Viva launch at Ignite 2021 was included in both Partner and Community event keynotes by Satya Nadella so it is a toolset that Microsoft are putting a lot of resources into, including the creation of a partner competency program, the Content Services Partner Program.

Microsoft Viva Components

There is lots of information on the Microsoft site and other resources on the core components of Microsoft Viva, namely:

Viva Topics: Viva Topics provides a knowledge discovery platform that uses Artificial Intelligence to export created content sources and resources mainly from content stored in SharePoint and Teams. Topics cards are created in Teams, Outlook and SharePoint.

Viva Insights: Insights is launched via Microsoft Teams which is gaining a huge amount of traction amongst organisations, especially due to staff transitioning to a ‘work from home’ normal over this Covid affected period. Insights provides personal analytics with related insights for “individuals, managers, leaders” supporting wellbeing, collaboration and productivity.

Viva Learning: Viva Learning has not yet launched to the wider audiences but will provide a much anticipated learning hub that aggregates learning content from different sources including LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, mainstream e-learning providers and a company’s own content. Again, Viva Learning is surfaced within Microsoft Teams.

Viva Connections: Viva Connections is a gateway to your digital workplace including internal communications and company resources such as policies and HR information. It addresses the ‘Silo’ effect. User participation in different social communities is a key benefit.

So what should you as an organisation be doing right now?

The first steps for many organisations is to review what the licence costs are, and the good news here is that Viva Connections and Viva Insights are included in the core Microsoft licence costs, so if you can access SharePoint Online, Teams etc then you can roll these out. That said, Viva Insights, by default, will offer personal feedback and information from the standard MyAnalytics information staff may have seen already. For managers and administrators, an organisation will need to have the Workplace Analytics services added to their user licencing.

The downside to there being no separate licence costs however is that this often means these modules are ‘enabled’ for the whole organisation with little attention played to what the end users, managers and admin are told about the information suddenly being surfaced. To make good use of these modules, an organisation needs to engage with Microsoft partners, online resources, Content Partner workshops and other means, either chargeable or freely available and include their HR, Internal Communications and Adoption and Change staff, not just IT.

Viva Topics does have a licence cost but can be added on a per user basis. Viva Topics will be very useful for certain organisations wanting to prioritise knowledge sharing across core Microsoft applications. Knowledge sharing has already been used historically in many SharePoint online solutions, from linking staff directory information to page and document content, however these are often third party apps or manually created with some configuration and customisation. Viva Topics used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to suggest topics that an organisation uses, e.g. products, projects etc.

There is a lot to be said for Viva Topics especially as it will eventually surface Topics’ hover cards across Outlook, Teams, Search and SharePoint however at the moment the AI does need there to be a lot of users and content already stored in the tenancy for any “suggested topics” to be identified. Integration with Yammer posts using tags from Viva topics is also on the roadmap.

Viva Topics is currently only supported for the English language with Spanish, French and German coming later in 2021. It remains to be seen whether this restricts take up as Viva Topics will benefit larger organisations which are often more likely to be global and have different languages in place on their Microsoft tenancy.

Our suggestion for your next steps?

Make use of the free trial available on your tenancy, turn it on, wait a few days for the AI to look at all your content and see if it finds anything and when it does, is this usable. Viva Topics is relatively straight forward to set up by an IT admin and users with the correct admin permissions can still create new Topic pages in SharePoint manually and use # tags to manually add links to these topics pages.

Viva Learning looks great based on some of the video demos and online content available and whilst it is not yet released and doesn’t have any publicly available pricing details, one thing is certain. There are only a handful of SharePoint or Microsoft 365 based e-Learning platforms available from third partners (e.g. LMS 365) and whilst some third party solutions do have Microsoft Teams apps of their own, the majority of the established e-learning platforms all have Viva Learning integration on their roadmap, as well as content providers.

The fact that Viva Learning will be a Microsoft Teams based module and so many organisations have moved to a ‘Teams First’ working model, will ensure that priced correctly, Viva Learning will be a great addition to the Microsoft 365 platform. If it means organisations can use Viva Learning and both internal and external content and not need to purchase a third party e-learning system, will still ensure the licence costs are seen as an alternative to something from third party and not just another Microsoft licence they have to buy.

In Conclusion

Microsoft Viva is here to stay and will be getting frequent updates. Therefore, the likelihood is that your plans will be based on when is the right time for you look at the various modules, not if you should.

The Microsoft Content Services Partner Program will ensure there are partners out there able to engage with HR, Internal Communications, Adoption and Change and IT departments to assist them with their Viva roadmap and with various Microsoft workshops already available, we are here if you need us!