Microsoft Viva: The New Employee Experience Platform

Microsoft Viva: The New Employee Experience Platform

Microsoft Viva, a new EXP (short for employee experience platform) first revealed in February 2021.

There have been a lot of updates from Microsoft in the last few years — some of the greatest being the rise of the Microsoft 365 platform and the move to the new modern SharePoint.

With more companies moving to the digital workplace, the use of SharePoint and Teams for collaboration and communication has never been greater.

Microsoft Viva will likely be in the mix. That’s why in this article, let’s shed some light on this new platform and how it benefits businesses of different sizes.

Let’s get started.

What is Microsoft Viva?

Microsoft Viva is a combination of different Microsoft capabilities (some new while some are already existing ones) to support employee experience.

It’s primarily geared for HR and Internal Communications.

The main goal of Microsoft Viva is to address organizational goals and prioritize revolving employee experience.

Get personal insights in the flow of work with Microsoft Viva

It integrates with a lot of Microsoft apps, primarily Microsoft Teams and Outlook.

Taking a closer look, Microsoft Viva is actually an umbrella of products or modules — each can be purchased independently.

Unfortunately, this makes it a little confusing, but we will talk more about it later on.

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    What are the main modules of Microsoft Viva?

    Microsoft Viva is comprised of four primary modules:

    1. Topics
    2. Connections
    3. Learning
    4. Insights

    Viva Topics

    Viva Topics is a knowledge discovery platform that utilizes artificial intelligence to ensure the right media is presented to the right people.

    The AI sources experts and various resources (including different knowledgebase).

    Make knowledge easy to discover with Viva Topics

    Viva Topics has three basic uses:

    1. Turn content into knowledge

    The artificial intelligence will automatically identify topics by recognizing the common ones across content and conversations.

    It will organize whatever information it gained and then generate topic pages.

    It will also discover and display related topics and expertise from different sources.

    2. Knowledge curation

    Viva Topics will automatically build topic pages and topic cards with the use of suggested definitions, related content, relevant conversations, and expertise.

    It will then refine those topic pages using artificial intelligence.

    3. Make it easy to discover knowledge

    The main point is for you to not make an extra effort to discover knowledge. You will automatically see topic cards across Microsoft 365 apps. Literally, knowledge will find you.

    Naturally, there will still be a search function where you can find topics anywhere and anytime.

    As of now, Viva Topics will scour information only on its network inside Microsoft 365 cloud.

    But in the future, it will integrated information even those outside Microsoft 365 cloud and from more than 130 data sources.

    Viva Connections

    The main purpose of Viva Connections is to serve as a gateway to internal communications, information, and even policies.

    This will help employees find and participate in various social communities within the company.

    Curate a centralized destination with Viva Connections

    Viva Connections will run on a brandable SharePoint Home app inside Microsoft Teams. It will also use Yammer for social communities and Microsoft Stream for videos.

    This module has three primary uses:

    1. Discover community conversations and news

    Think Facebook for employees. Viva Connections will be a hub where employees can know what’s happening inside the organization.

    The feed will also be tailored to the individual with contributions from employees.

    2. Engage with employee resources

    Users can access a personalized dashboard where you can streamline visibility that’s important to employee resources.

    Employees will be able to access important information with a single touch.

    With a powered internal communications tool like this, employees will be able to return to their work right away (instead of scouring the intranet about that new announcement).

    3. Deploy internal communications faster

    As I said earlier, Viva Connections will run on Microsoft Teams and make use of Yammer for internal social communities.

    You don’t have to start from scratch to fire it up since you can tap on an existing infrastructure, which saves time and money.

    Viva Connections is the answer to companies who wanted to bring the capability of seeing intranet content directly on Microsoft Teams.

    Note that this will not, in any way, replace the intranet.

    In fact, it will be more of a compliment and an enhancement since it only brings the intranet-like experience to Teams (including social feeds, communications, and access to central documents).

    Viva Learning

    If Viva Connections is an internal and social hub, then Viva Learning is a learning hub that aggregates resources from various resources to teach employees particular skills important to the company.

    Discover and share with Viva Learning

    Amazingly, Microsoft tapped a lot of third-party providers, in addition to Microsoft Learn, for learning content, including LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udacity, Udemy Business, Edx, and many more.

    There are three benefits to Viva Learning:

    1. Discover and share skills

    Employees will be able to search and share learning content in Team chats with any groups or individuals.

    Naturally, you will be able to organize custom learning content selections with channels and tabs in Teams.

    This may also sound new, but Viva Learning will enable employees to discover learning content across various Microsoft 365 apps — like in, SharePoint, and Microsoft Search.

    2. Recommend and track learning content

    You and the other managers or leaders of the company will be able to recommend learning content to employees without ever learning Microsoft Teams.

    The same with large learning content providers, you will also be able to see the status of recommendations as well as track the completion status.

    3. Access all learning content in one place

    Everything about Viva Learning can be accessed directly In Teams.

    The home view contains a lot of information like the assigned content from learning management systems, trending content, content libraries, and recommend learnings.

    Employees will be able to see the course details and even bookmark them for later consumption, without ever leaving Teams.

    Viva Learning will house different learning content, not only videos. There will be a lot of Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint decks.

    Without saying, Viva Learning will certainly help empower employees to be at their best, without asking them to exert more effort in finding relevant learning content and providers.

    Viva Insights

    Lastly, Viva Insights is designed to help employees improve their productivity and wellbeing using data-driven (but privacy-protected) reporting, insights, and recommendations.

    Manager insights from Viva Insights

    Many of the data will be from Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics. However, it’s also possible to pull data from third-party providers like SAP, Workday, and even Zoom.

    There are three benefits to Viva Insights:

    1. Improve employee wellbeing

    You and the other leaders in the organization will be able to see powerful insights about how your employees are doing, especially with the shift to remove work that may be harder for others to adjust.

    2. Understand employee engagement

    This is more of an appendage to the earlier benefit. With Viva Insights, you will be able to map insights and understand how people work and how they feel (about their work).

    3. Analyze engagement data

    This is still in pilot, but Viva Insights will help leaders understand engagement data.

    As for where Viva Insights specifically get data, it’s been revealed that it will take information from email items including metadata and task statements. There will also be some from calendar items and OneDrive SharePoint data.

    In addition, manager and leader insights, and advanced tools and integrations require a Microsoft Workplace Analytics purchase.

    This doesn’t include personal insights (gives personal recommendations to employees for wellbeing).

    How much does Microsoft Viva cost?

    Again, Viva is a family of various products. In recent months, there were some updates on its prices.

    Currently, here are the prices of each application:

    1. Viva Connections: Available to all customers as part of Microsoft 365 license
    2. Viva Insights: The free tier includes the Viva Insight app. However, for manager insights and access to the organization view, you need a Workplace Analytics license (which may be renamed to Viva Insight license in the future).
    3. Viva Topics: Gives a 30-day trial for up to 25 users. Then it’s $5 per user per month (needs a license to interact with topics).
    4. Viva Learning: Not yet known. The basic application might be free, but there may be a subscription fee depending on the content provider.

    What updates to expect from Microsoft Viva?

    There are a few exciting updates coming to Microsoft. Below is a list of them per specific application.

    1. Viva Connections: Mobile app is coming within 2021 (though it’s a little late than originally scheduled). More features will be coming in 2022.
    2. Viva Insights: Full Viva Insights will be available later in 2021 (Teams Viva Insights app is already out now). More wellbeing experiences will be available soon like virtual commute (related to meditation and mindfulness) and integration with Viva Learning.
    3. Viva Topics: Now available to all commercial tenants.
    4. Viva Learning: Still in the works, but is expected in late 2021 or early 2022. It’s still in private preview as of now. But later in 2021, customers and partners will be able to integrate with it with the use of public programming interfaces.

    The era of Microsoft Viva

    Since many organizations are now in a hybrid workspace, there is a surge of platforms that directly cater to the needs of employees and leaders.

    But Microsoft Viva has the potential to rise above all these platforms and tools.

    Companies that are in the Microsoft cloud will see the benefits of using the applications Microsoft Viva brings. The fact that you can select which application to use is a huge plus.

    How about you? What do you think about Microsoft Viva? Is your organization considering using it?

    If you have more questions related to Microsoft Viva, drop them below or send me your concern directly through my contact page.

    About Ryan Clark

    As the Principal Solutions Architect at Mr. SharePoint, I help companies of all sizes better leverage Modern Workplace and Digital Process Automation investments. I am also a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for Office Apps & Services.

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