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Tech 411: What is Microsoft Viva and who is it for?

On February 4th 2021 Microsoft dropped an announcement about a brand new product platform called Viva. 

The announcement was made via a new style of product launch for Microsoft whereby prerecorded videos about and featuring the product were set live simultaneously via YouTube and their own tailored landing page. 

What that means is that actual hands-on experience of Viva is limited so far (although they revealed Unilever were involved in the development of Viva), but there’s still plenty to glean from the information available. 

Here’s our take on Viva, what it is, who it’s for, and if it’s worth your business keeping an eye on it as it develops. 

What is Microsoft Viva?

Microsoft’s pitch for Viva is that it empowers people and teams to be their best from anywhere. 

What that means in non-marketing speak is that Viva is platform designed to bridge the gap between in-office and out-of-office staff. 

In essence Viva brings together pre-existing Microsoft 365 apps and tools, adds a few new ones, and presents them as a single, smooth interactive experience from inside of Microsoft Teams. 

In doing so it hopes give employees the tools they need to work more effectively by managing their workloads, improving their knowledge, communicating with each other, and even managing their own wellbeing. 

Most importantly from a business point of view, it makes data and insights available to managers so they can properly manage their teams effectiveness, efficiency and wellbeing, wherever they are. 

What are the features of Microsoft Viva?

At launch Microsoft Viva is made up of four different elements; Viva Connections, Viva Insights, Viva Learning and Viva Topics. 

Even though some of these borrow from pre-existing Microsoft/Office 365 features, each has its own distinct features and reason for being. 

For a full rundown of what each element offers take a look at the video series on Viva over at the Microsoft 365 YouTube channel, but here’s a quick overview of some of the key features of each: 

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Viva Connections key features: 

Summary:  Modern, interactive, first-touch intranet. 

Borrows from Sharepoint, Stream, Yammer 

Key features: 

  • Personalised work tools 
  • Tailored to every role. 
  • Feed of relevant news, announcements, events and conversations 
  • Share, comment and interact with colleagues 
  • Communicate widely or within Teams. 
  • Schedule and target company or departmental news 
  • Share stories and videos as a team to rest of company 
  • Brandable experience across all devices. 

Viva Learning key features: 

Summary:  Embed learning culture within the business 

Borrows from Microsoft Learn 

Key features: 

  • Pin Learning tab within any Teams channel 
  • Source courses from Linkedin Learning & Microsoft Learn or own LMS. 
  • Search learning library and share suggestions with team members. 
  • Managers can assign courses and track progress. 
  • My Learning view allows employees to customise their experience. 
  • AI delivers personalised recommendations. 
  • Undertake learning directly from Teams. 

Viva Topics key features: 

Summary:  Enable faster knowledge sharing and acquisition. 

Borrows from Microsoft Graph 

Key features: 

  • Define important topics within the business. 
  • AI also makes topic suggestions 
  • Hover over a topic for info, resources and contacts related to the topic. 
  • Managers can curate and edit the topic cards related to each topic. 
  • Managers can review suggested topics before publishing. 
  • Connect with experts on your chosen topic. 
  • Topic FAQs generated automatically by saving questions asked and answered by topic experts. 
  • Integrate information from other sources. 

Viva Insights key features:

Summary:  Manage employee and company wellbeing and productivity. 

Borrows from Cortana, Outlook Insights, MyAnalytics 

Key features: 

  • Discover and monitor potentially isolated employees 
  • Monitor after hours working to prevent burnout 
  • Track collaboration hours as a indicator of engagement 
  • Tracks and suggests where manager/employee 1 to 1 time is required. 
  • Alerts for too little focus time, rest time or learning time. 
  • Monitor and alerts for indicators of staff attrition. 
  • “Virtual Commute” – close down work day in a structured way and preview the next day. 
  • “Protect time” option to block out time for concentrated working. 

 

Who is Microsoft Viva for? 

Microsoft Viva is launching on the Microsoft 365 E5 license initially, and it’s clear from its company-wide, over-arching nature that it’s designed in the first instance for large organisations with disparate and geographically spread teams and employees. 

However, we can see this becoming available and useful to smaller businesses as well.  Any business that has multiple departments or teams that find interaction and collaboration difficult, or are managing a number of remote workers, will find benefits to the tools in Microsoft Viva. 

Simply by making more data available to managers on productivity, inefficiency, overwork and employee sentiment, there’s great value to be had for any business. And because it sits within the now familiar Microsoft Teams environment, there shouldn’t be the adoption issues that can arise from attempting to implement new intranets or LMS software that are hosted separately and have a completely unique user experience. 

Couple this with the elements of Viva focused on empowering employees to make their own work lives easier, and we can see this being a popular addition to your businesses’ internal communications, HR and management approach. 

Is Microsoft Viva worth keeping an eye on? 

Definitely. 

It may be, in many areas, a reskin of existing Microsoft products, but sometimes presenting things in the right way can make all the difference. 

The bottom line is that if it makes your employees happier, more effective and more productive, then it’s bound to improve your bottom line. And that’s something that should never be ignored. 

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