Microsoft Announces Viva, an Employee Experience Platform

Posted on February 4, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft 365 with 15 Comments

At a virtual event today, Microsoft announced a new initiative called Viva, an Employee Experience Platform (EXP) for the new way of doing work.

“We built Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 as the organizing layer for all the ways people work, learn, and collaborate,” Microsoft corporate vice president Jared Spataro announced. “But to truly empower people to feel connected, supported, and able to bring their best selves to work we need to do more.  We believe what’s needed is a new approach and a new category of technology solutions called Employee Experience Platforms (EXP). We see EXP as a digital platform that provides people with resources and support they need, seamlessly integrated within the same tools they use to do their work, so they can succeed and thrive no matter their location.”

According to Microsoft, Viva is the first EXP built for the digital era and, perhaps more importantly, for this new era in which more and more of us will continue working from home rather than gathering in a central location with other employees. It “brings together knowledge, learning, resources, and insights into an integrated experience that empowers people and teams to be their best, from anywhere,” the firm claims.

That’s vague, of course. More specifically, users will experience Viva through new interfaces in Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft 365 apps. There are four Viva modules, with more on the way in the future. They are:

Viva Connections. Described as “a single-entry point for employee engagement and internal communications,” Viva Connections is a gateway to a user’s digital workplace. It provides a curated and branded employee destination, provides company town halls, news, policies, and benefits, and a personalized feed and dashboard to help users find resources.

Viva Insights. This module provides “data-driven, privacy-protected insights and recommendations to foster healthy, successful teams” for managers, “organizational work patterns and trends” for company leaders, integration with third-party data sources, and aggregation, de-identification, and differential privacy features to ensure that all employees’ privacy is respected.

Viva Learning. Accessed via a learning hub in Teams, Viva Learning helps employees discover and share training courses, microlearning content, and more. And managers get tools for assigning learning and for tracking the completion of courses.

Viva Topics. This module helps employees find other employees with specific skills. “Think of Viva Topics as a Wikipedia with AI superpowers for your organization,” Microsoft says. “It uses AI to automatically organize company-wide content and expertise into relevant categories like ‘projects,’ ‘products,’ ‘processes,’ and ‘customers.’ And it automatically displays topic cards as you work in Office, SharePoint, Teams, and other Microsoft 365 apps; when users employees select a card, a topic page appears with documents, videos, and related people.

“With Microsoft Viva, we aim to make it easier and more natural for everyone to stay connected, access knowledge, learn on the job, and use privacy-protected insights—to enable individuals to prioritize wellbeing, empower managers to lead more effectively, and help leaders drive better decision-making across the organization,” Spataro adds. “But while we’re so excited to introduce you to Microsoft Viva today, there’s so much more to come. We believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build people-centered experiences that help our customers drive extraordinary outcomes. And we’re just getting started.”

Viva Topics is generally available starting today, as are a public preview of Viva Insights and a private preview of Viva Learning. Microsoft says it will have more to say about Viva throughout 2021, and that those interested in this new functionality should check out the Microsoft Viva website.

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Comments (15)

15 responses to “Microsoft Announces Viva, an Employee Experience Platform”

  1. gadgetenvy

    Is this just a new name for an employee portal?

  2. bluvg

    "We believe what’s needed is a new approach"

    I believe what's desperately needed is to deal with Teams' performance issues, before adding yet more and more stuff to make it even slower and heavier. If Teams is to be "the organizing layer for all the ways people work, learn, and collaborate," then it needs to be built like an OS--with that level of reliability, resiliency, and performance.

    • b6gd

      In reply to bluvg:

      They change is so often it's crazy. They are outstanding bugs that never get fixed. It is slow on all platforms. We all know its NOT going to get faster.

  3. sjgibb99

    They need to focus on small stuff like allowing our staff that use the Microsoft Authenticator app to backup to their 365 Business/Work accounts. Why does this app still only backup to Microsoft personal accounts?

  4. red.radar

    I get the feeling MIcrosoft is trying to slowly make email obsolete or at least much less relevant.

    you live in teams for communication and this seems to take care of the corporate broadcasts but adds extra resources.

    I guess email is just for legacy systems that drive notifications and external communications assuming they are not a teams org too.

    • vladimir

      In reply to red.radar:

      I think it's already obsolete. In my organization the use of e-mail for internal communications is strictly forbidden :-) Otherwise we get 100+ emails per day and important messages get lost in the noise. E-mail is only for external communication but even then, if the information flow becomes significant and steady, we try to switch to other communication means.

  5. mclark2112

    $5/User is expensive, though seems to be the market for Intranet Portals these days.

  6. mclark2112

    So found where to sign up for the trial and added it to my installation, but damned if I can find the app or anything else about it. The only thing I can do is assign the license. Then where is it? I'm lost.

    • rmlounsbury

      In reply to mclark2112:

      It should all live within Teams as an app(s) on the side bar it seems. I' m guessing controls for it live in the Teams admin center.

      I was going to watch the announcement and dig through the MS resources but my day was a bit of a dumpster fire; so I'm getting caught up.

  7. rmlounsbury

    Kinda feels like this is a replacement for Yammer with extra functionality such as training resources and other community oriented features from what I'm reading.

  8. chrisrut

    Sounds like an AI-based Sharepoint portal on steroids. Very nice from my perspective. - I was an early adopter of SharePoint in the Enterprise.