Microsoft Viva explained

There have been a lot of exciting announcements this year about Microsoft Viva. So we asked two experts, Karlee Scott-Murphy and Angus Florance to drill down and explain what the new employee experience platform Viva is all about. They were interviewed by Mark Woodrow, Microsoft 365 Evangelist, Engage Squared. This is a summary, you can watch the full webinar on YouTube.

Karlee Scott-Murphy global product specialist (or a global blackbelt) for the Microsoft Viva team and an absolute subject matter expert of knowledge and insights for Viva now.

Formerly working with Yammer, Angus Florance is now part of the customer experience team for Viva. As a subject matter expert for Employee Engagement, he specifically works with the internal communications professionals, HR leaders and senior leaders across business.

What is so important about Viva?

This is much more than just an HR employee experience initiative”, said Karlee, who started her career in HR and has 10 years experience in HR Tech consulting. “This is about a true experience that impacts how they people work all the time.

Research done over the last year shows that:

  • Organisations with engaged employees have 21% greater profitability
  • Highly engaged employees are 12 x less likely to leave
  • 94% employees would stay if the company invested in their learning

We need to bring these experiences into the flow of work, to make it more accessible and a much better experience for the employees.

With Microsoft Viva we’ve put a stake in the ground and said ‘look this is what employee experience is’. It’s not just about the communication piece, it’s not just about the HR portal where people apply for vacation time etc.” said Karlee

What are the four modules?

Microsoft Viva is a collection of tools around employee experience and how we work every day”, said Angus. “There are four initial modules: Connections, Insights, Topics and Learning. More modules will be added in the future.

Viva isn’t a new system

We are not asking customers to throw away existing systems, or to start from scratch,” said Karlee. “We want to help customers extend on their existing investments by better connecting them together and making them available in a more modern experience to their employees.

Each of the modules are actually built on top of the existing products that we had inside Microsoft 365,” said Angus. “Viva is really pulling them together in a cohesive way through Teams. It’s a familiar interface, so you don’t have to go somewhere else – everything surfaced where you get your work done every day.

Viva Connections

Connections is a company branded employee app in Teams. It is a gateway to your employee experience, with personalised news, communications, tasks, people and resources. It provides a single curated employee destination that can be configured for specific roles like frontline workers. So, leaders can communicate and engage their employees, and employees can get easy access to the tools and resources they need from one place.

The core piece to engagement is Viva Connections, which focuses on culture, communications and making sure that the right people inside your organisation can access to the right information,” said Angus. “Employees should feel included, so they can participate and feel their voice is heard.

How does it build on existing capabilities?

Angus suggests Viva Connections will draw on Modern Yammer and the SharePoint Online experiences. It can be fully branded. And you can extend Connections with SharePoint Developer, using Adaptive Cards.

Viva Insights

Insights brings together Workplace Analytics, MyAnalytics and Glint into a unified insights app in Teams to provide data-driven and privacy-protected insights for individuals, managers and leaders. For example, employees get personalized insights, only they can see, that help them protect their time for breaks, focused work, and learning in order to promote improved productivity and wellbeing.

With Viva Insights, there are multiple parts. Personal Insights which includes personal productivity and wellness components – which Angus says he finds useful to get work done. The Wellbeing component – such as the integration with HeadSpace and also Manager and Leader Insights too.

In this hybrid world, at home, at work and at the office, we need to have time, according to Angus “to make sure we have time to kind of disconnect and refocus what we’re trying to do.

How can those who are interested in Insights try it out? How will it help Managers?

You can most definitely try Viva Insights. “Go to the ellipses in Teams and find the Insights app if your IT team have it available to you,” said Karlee. “More functionality will be dropping in to the app regularly.

For the deeper capability of Viva Insights, including the Manager and Leader Insights, which is linked to Workplace Analytics, you need data to produce the insights, and also enough data that it can provide aggregate insights.” So if you were to start on a journey – ensure you have a big enough data set – so around 500 employees. There are out of the box dashboards. “Or you can have an analyst create queries that reflect the organisations needs, which will be most beneficial,” said Karlee.

One of the simplest use cases we have is customers looking at manager 1:1 time – because research tells us our managers are going to be the greatest influence on our behaviour, so regular check-ins is super important.

Viva Topics

Topics focuses on knowledge and expertise. Topics applies AI to identify knowledge and experts and organize them into shared topics. AI automatically creates a topic page for each topic. It’s like Wikipedia for the enterprise where AI does the first draft. And these topic pages are surfaced as Topic Cards right in the flow of work in Office and Teams.

Topics is built around the idea of knowledge and expertise. Each of us have all this stuff happening across our organisation”, said Angus. “There’s information inside email, SharePoint sites, Yammer communities and Teams channels. So how do we how do we pull that together – there’s so much to know?

What do I need to do to get started with Viva Topics?

Firstly – the organisation needs to be on a modern SharePoint experience – SharePoint Online” said Karlee. “There are trials available. Of course if you are working with a partner like Engage Squared you can get an extended trial and they will help guide you through the process.

As part of this process you should also be looking at SharePoint Syntex as a way to extract locked away metadata in the documents you have on SharePoint and enriching the Topics experience.

Viva Learning

Viva Learning allows employees to easily discover informal and formal learning in the flow of work. It aggregates content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and 3rd party training content and your own organizations content – all in one place.  Along with providing aggregation and recommendations, it also allows managers to assign and track training, as well as report on training within and across teams.

There is so much interest in this module at the moment. From both customers and LMS vendors alike. There is such a need for one experience for both informal, social and formal learning coming together,” said Karlee.

I’m personally most excited about this idea of learning that underpins Viva“, said Angus “I’m doing it on my new farm, going to YouTube and learning new skills ‘on the job’. It’s all on demand learning.”  

We can bring that experience of how we learn into ‘how we work’ inside our organisations. Whether we join a project and need to skill up on agile methodology or if we need to learn a new skill on the go” said Angus. “The whole idea of a learning module is that it brings all the different courses available to you ‘just in time’.

Which LMSs and Content providers will Viva be connecting to?

There are a number of LMS vendors and content providers that Microsoft is already connecting up with like Cornerstone, SuccessFactors, LinkedIn Learning, edEX, Coursera, SkillSoft and Pluralsight  etc. “But if your LMS isn’t on the list, we will have an API that will be announced that can be used to build those integrations”, said Karlee.

Final observations

Don’t just look at Viva from an IT perspective recommends Karlee. “Employee experience involves everyone – so bring in your business decision makers along for the journey.

More questions?

If you want to find out more about Microsoft Viva and how it can help drive employee engagement at your organisation, get in touch. As one of a few Microsoft Preferred Partners for Content Services in Australia we can help accelerate your employee experience through the deployment of Microsoft M365 and Viva.

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