Millions of home-office workers during the pandemic have made the importance of employee engagement more prominent. Microsoft recently took new steps in that direction by announcing Microsoft Viva, the first Employee Experience Platform (EXP) so we decided to have a closer look at it and see how it can help organizations to empower people to do their best in the new world of working from anywhere.
Viva’s four main pillars are: Insights, Topics, Learning and Connections. The common benefit seems to be connecting different existing modules into Microsoft Teams.
|Public Preview: 02.2021
Next releases: Q1/Q2, 2021
|Free for now but there are rumors for a Premium version coming.
|Exchange Online license, Workplace Analytics license
|Generally Available: 02.2021
Viva Topics API: Q4, 2021
|EUR 4.20 per user per month. There is a 30-days trial for up to 25 users.
|SharePoint Online license
Public Preview: 04.2021
|The application will be available for free, but the training materials inside will be licensed separately.
|Not known yet.
|Generally Available: 02.03.2021
Mobile App – Q3 2021
Next release: 2022
|SharePoint Online license
Viva Insights gives anyone in any role, employees or leaders, personalized and actionable insights that help everyone as an individual and the organization to thrive.
Viva Insights is designed to help people in two main areas:
- Stay connected – helping people stay on top of their collaboration with colleagues through features such as AI-based task suggestions and meeting assistance. The goal is to craft better work habits by building meaningful relationships with important collaborators.
- Protect time – helping people to find more time to eliminate distractions, stop multi-tasking, and focus on their core priorities. The goal is for everyone to find focus wherever and whenever they need it and achieve better work-life balance by having dedicated blocks of time for specific purposes.
Viva Insights’ Stay connected tab helps people get connected with their collaborators and improve their productivity.
The Stay connected tab can contain insights such as the following:
- Identify and pin important collaborators
- Set up 1:1 meeting reminders
- 1:1 meeting suggestions
- Reschedule a 1:1 in case of conflict
- Stay on top of outstanding task suggestions
- Catch up on unread documents shared with you
- @Mentions for pinned important contacts
- Upcoming meetings that need your RSVP
Viva Insights can help you protect time for focused work and minimize notifications (and thus distraction) by Microsoft Teams and Skype for business chats and calls during your focus time.
Viva Insights will, in a while, bring the power of Microsoft Workplace Analytics and Microsoft MyAnalytics in one place. More about those tools enabling wellbeing experiences and insights in Microsoft Teams was announced at Ignite in 2020.
Viva Insights is designed to protect privacy. When data is processed in the app, Microsoft protects employee privacy and fully complies with local regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Personal insights are visible only to the individual, and for manager and leader insights, customers can rely on safeguards like de-identification, aggregation, and differential privacy by default. For example, personal insights visible to the employee can’t be seen by their manager or system administrator.
The personal insights and actions in the Viva Insights app are based on Exchange Online mailbox data, such as email and calendar data. The insights are derived from data that is already available to the user their Exchange Online mailbox. For example, if you want to determine what commitments you made to others, you could manually review each email in your mailbox. The Insights app simply saves you from this tedious process.
Accessed in Microsoft Teams, Viva Insights for individuals help employees stay connected with their colleagues and protect time for regular breaks, focused work, and learning. Experiences that were announced at Ignite last year, like virtual commute and integration with Headspace were the kickstart of that product.
For managers, Viva Insights provides data-driven, privacy-protected insights and recommendations to foster healthy, successful teams. For instance, Viva Insights can help a manager see if their team is at risk of burnout and provide recommendations like encouraging the team to turn off notifications, set boundaries in their calendar, and set daily priorities to focus on what matters most.
For executives, Viva Insights helps address complex challenges and respond to change by shedding light on organizational work patterns and trends. These could include wellbeing opportunities, but also things like space planning as companies move to the modern workplace model and reimagine their offices for hybrid work. Viva Insights also provides leaders with organizational network analysis to understand the connectedness and cohesion between and across teams.
Viva Insights is already available in Microsoft Teams in public preview. To access it, you would need an Exchange Online license.
Q: Does the Viva Insights app comply with GDPR?
A: Yes. The Viva Insights app complies with GDPR requirements.
Q: Can users see information about other users in the Viva Insights app?
A: The personal insights in the Insights app include only existing information that’s already available in the user’s mailbox. The insights surface content from documents, emails, and meetings to make it easier for the user to find what’s most important for their day ahead. Users cannot see any new information about other users that wasn’t already available in their mailboxes.
Q: Can my manager, system administrator, or anyone else at my organization see what’s in my Insights app?
A: No. Personal insights are private and visible to you and only you. Personal information in the Insights app is from your mailbox and stored in your mailbox. Insights just make it easier to find items that might need attention.
Q: What data does the Viva Insights app use?
A: Viva Insights uses:
Information from email items:
- Metadata. This includes the email’s timestamp, names of sender and recipients, and “read” status.
- Task statements. Statements that people have made in the body text of the email. These statements are used to create task cards for your use only.
Information from calendar items:
- Type (meeting or appointment)
- Status (busy, free, out-of-office, tentative)
- OneDrive and SharePoint data: Viva Insights shows a count of OneDrive and SharePoint documents that you have worked on.
Insights does not use:
- Email and calendar data from people outside your organization, with the following exception: Insights uses data that is present in your own Microsoft 365 mailbox. For example, if you conduct a meeting with a person outside your organization, the start and end times of that meeting can be found in your mailbox and are visible to you. This data, therefore, can be used in computations about your collaboration history.
Viva Topics is designed with three main benefits in mind:
- Making it easy for people to find information and put knowledge to work by automatically organizing content and expertise across the organization and delivering it in Microsoft 365
- Empowering people using Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft 365 apps daily, with knowledge and expertise using AI (Artificial Intelligence)
- Connecting, managing, and protecting content across systems and teams.
Viva Topics enables faster learning, connections, and innovation by making information easier to find by using AI. It also lets your internal experts curate and improve topics, bringing together the best of people and AI. Viva Topics is built on the content and platform services of Microsoft Teams and the Microsoft Graph, and will deliver knowledge directly through the Teams user experience later this year.
- Topic cards – Delivers knowledge in context, with cards surfaced across Microsoft Teams, Outlook Search, and the rest of the Microsoft 365 apps.
- Topic pages – Brings together relevant content, conversations, and expertise from across your organization in topic pages created by the AI of Viva Topics. Topics pages were started as codename Project Cortex, but the breakthrough is that those pages are connected with not just search, but communications and other Microsoft 365 experiences.
- Topic centers – Helps you manage your organization’s topics, recognize relationships between them, or manually add and create additional topics.
- Knowledge curation – Enables experts in your organization to revise topics, pin resources, and identify other experts while Viva Topics learns through AI (Artificial Intelligence) and makes updates.
- Search and discovery – Offers a seamless and integrated experience across Microsoft 365, with topics discoverable in Microsoft Search, and in the apps you use every day.
- Management and administration – Generates and shows topics generated from the content users only have access to already, respecting all existing security and privacy features in Microsoft 365.
Q: How are topics generated and updated?
A: There are two ways to generate topics:
- Manually– create them yourself
- Automatically– enable AI to detect and generate topics
Once a topic is created, AI (Artificial Intelligence) will update the topic and related resources as it discovers new information. There is also the option to manually update topic cards and pages to change the topic description or highlight new resources and connections.
Q: Can you specify a list of topics and let Viva Topics build upon it?
A: Yes. You can create a topic from scratch. Fill in all the information in a topic page and add it to your network. The AI (Artificial Intelligence) capabilities in Viva Topics will learn fast and add to the topic over time.
Q: Can you apply branding and custom themes to topic center sites?
A: Yes. Viva Topics uses SharePoint Online so all SharePoint customization features are available. Viva Topics allows you to populate and brand your topic center in alignment with your organization’s needs and culture.
Q: Is Viva Topics integrated with Dynamics 365 as it is with the Microsoft 365 Apps?
A: No. Microsoft is going to release APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) later this year to allow customers and ISV (Independent Software Vendor) partners to build integrations into Viva Topics.
Viva Topics is already available as an add-on purchase from EUR 4.20 per user per month *
* Erfordert Microsoft 365 F1, F3, E3, A3, E5, A5, Office 365 F3, E1, A1, E3, A3, E5, A5, Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard, Business Premium oder SharePoint K, Plan 1 oder Plan 2
In June of 2020, Microsoft announced an ambitious goal to help 25 million people around the world gain the digital skills they need to be successful. This year some of those plans are coming to action.
Viva Learning’s goal is to empower everyone to gain targeted skills in their work area by creating a central hub for learning in Microsoft Teams where people can find, share, assign, access knowledge pools available across the organization.
The Viva Learning app is designed to make learning a natural part of the day of your people, seamlessly integrated with Microsoft Teams, which is used by 115 million active daily users. Viva Learning adds to Microsoft Teams capabilities, enabling individuals to organize and share training in chats, channels, and tabs, where teams collaborate every day. People can easily search for and share training in a chat as they would share other types of content.
Teams and groups of people can also organize their own learning tab with customized, relevant learning content.
Learning experiences are most efficient when they’re personalized, and insights from the Microsoft Graph will make it easier for people to acquire the knowledge that is relevant for their role. In addition to displaying relevant learning through Search, Viva Learning will display recommended content in a personalized view. Viva Topics, which organizes content into topics to connect employees to information and expertise, will also offer learning suggestions within the topic center, along with other knowledge resources.
Viva Learning will be a centralized gateway to content across a variety of providers and locations. From formal training videos to informal learnings such as Microsoft Word documents and Microsoft PowerPoint decks stored in SharePoint Online, Viva Learning will help people gain knowledge easily by engaging with the right content when and where they need it.
Viva Learning will integrate content from leading third-party providers like Skillsoft, Coursera, Pluralsight, and edX in this new learning ecosystem in addition to LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn. Learning management system providers Cornerstone OnDemand, Saba, and SAP SuccessFactors have also expressed interest in integrating with the Viva Learning. Later this year there will be publicly available APIs so customers and partners of Microsoft will be able to integrate with Viva Learning. Viva Learning enables people to chat about learnings and training, share learning content via chat, and pin curated resources collections to Teams channels and dedicated tabs.
Viva Learning solves two main challenges across the board:
- low engagement with learning
- limited time for upskilling
Learning opportunities provided by Viva Learning are aimed to increase workplace happiness, wellbeing, and organizational success.
By giving leaders the tools to assign learning and track reported completion, Viva Learning will enable them to address the skills gap while driving an agile workplace that prioritizes learning and growth.
The app will also provide reporting capabilities, showing all the learning assignments a manager has made for their team members, with their due date and completion status, reported by team members.
Employees will be able to see the learning assigned to them, whether from a manager with Viva Learning or through any of the planned integrations with leading learning management systems, along with due dates and other important information.
Organizations should support culture change and individual growth by helping their people carve out time to learn before their calendar fills up. The Viva Insights app for Teams as well as the briefing email from Cortana will include actionable cards that make it easy to book dedicated time for learning.
Viva Learning is in private preview for a few Microsoft customer and partners from February 2021.
Viva Connections is designed to provide leaders a new powerful way to shape organizational culture and invite colleagues to contribute to building and promoting an inclusive workplace that helps anyone in any role succeed through a curated experience providing relevant news, conversations, and other resources, all in one place and personalized with your organization’s branding.
Viva Connections is personalized and appears in the apps and devices employees already use every day, such as Microsoft Teams.
Viva Connections is the launchpad for Microsoft Viva and the gateway to a modern employee experience. It is personalized and appears in the apps and devices people use every day, such as Microsoft Teams. Viva Connections gives people a curated, company-branded experience that brings together relevant news, conversations, and other resources.
Effective communication is essential for success, but with so many channels, information overflow is a real challenge. It’s easy for critical information and updates to get lost in all the extra noise. Microsoft Viva makes it easy for everyone to discover the information they need, participate in the conversation, and share their unique perspective and expertise so the organization can build on the collective contributions.
Viva Connections comes with a unified, personalized feed in which employees can explore news and contribute to the conversation from virtually anywhere, on any device. It allows for publishing content from popular Microsoft 365 apps, such as SharePoint, Yammer, or Microsoft Stream, to a single feed, including external news and content that your moderating teams might find valuable for employees.
Audience Targeting, a feature pioneered from SharePoint will allow communication teams to reach specific departments, regions, or job roles within your organization and bring employee attention to items in their feeds with boost based on properties such as always on top, until read, and X number of impressions.
Native Yammer Communities integration also makes it easy for employees to share feedback and participate in conversations about company news and announcements seamlessly in Microsoft Viva.
In addition to the feed, Viva Connections will provide users with a personalized dashboard so that they can stay in the flow of work. The dashboard is the company home for employees, and it is designed to be the central destination where everyone can discover helpful company resources such as training, benefits, policies and procedures.
From the dashboard, resources can be customized for different employee groups, such as frontline workers, whose time to consume content is often limited to their breaks. Viva Connections can be configured to give them a comprehensive view of everything they need, minimizing the time they spend away from their core tasks.
Viva Connections is quite an extensible platform. It builds on the power and momentum of the Microsoft Teams ecosystem and extensibility framework. You can easily create a card for any existing Teams app, or you can do more by using familiar Microsoft developer tech, from low-code solutions such as Microsoft Power Apps to custom solutions with SharePoint Framework (SPFx) and Adaptative Cards. You can also integrate third-party partner apps. If you’re considering developing with any of these approaches, we at Impactory have used them all and know the pros and cons. Reach out to us for a free consultation.
- Embedding SharePoint intranet content, such as the home site, into Microsoft Teams.
- Targeting content by leveraging existing Azure Active Directory groups.
- Customizing dashboards with Power Apps, SPFx, and the third-party solutions
- Aggregating news and conversations from SharePoint and Yammer.
- Driving engagement in employee communities in Yammer to support employee resource groups, knowledge sharing, and leadership initiatives.
- Pinning files and videos from Microsoft OneDrive and Microsoft Stream.
Viva Connections will be available for desktop in the first half of 2021 and for mobile in summer 2021. Additional features will roll out over the course of 2022.
With the introduction of Microsoft Viva, Microsoft’s goal is to strengthen the position of Teams as a hub for everyone’s workday, connecting everything to make it more convenient. This way they also ensure the creation of a platform opportunity for partners to provide additional value-added services to business of all sizes and across verticals. Microsoft Viva, anchored in Teams, is a platform for developers to build their solutions on top of and integrate their applications into. The Viva application experience is customizable, extensible, and allows pro developers and third parties to tailor and extend it to suit their needs. Microsoft Search connectors are a great example, as they allow others to feed content into the system to be discovered in Connections and Topics. The pages surfaced in Connections and Topics are SharePoint pages, so the SharePoint framework that people already use to brand and customize their experiences is all just there. In a way, it’s good that Microsoft is protecting organization’s existing investments in these technologies and not fully reinventing the wheel. We believe the addition of Viva in the Microsoft 365 suite will allow companies to rapidly put new, modern, and useful tools into their employees’ hands and give them access to resources, content, and connections that can help them continually build their careers. We can’t to provide added value with a Microsoft Viva project, so if you have a use case for it, reach out to us to discuss how we can build the future of your modern workplace together.
- Does Viva Connections look like an improved SharePoint Home Site App for Teams? Well, it’s not only you. Viva Connections will be a Teams application that brings SharePoint + Yammer experience to Teams to provide a modern landing page experience for the portals build based on SharePoint. Take a read of our detailed Home Site App blog post
- Hardly catching up with all the growth in Teams and the tons of news around it?
- Additional videos from Microsoft (perhaps embed them in the article alongside each topic?
- Or if that’s not possible, just show them in tiles at the end of the post like in the Lists blog
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