Since the launch of Microsoft Viva in early 2021, Microsoft has continued to invest in its employee experience platform, by adding new features, connectors and capabilities to the existing four modules – Viva Connections, Viva Learning, Viva Insights and Viva Topics.
But in recent weeks the expansion of the platform and the Microsoft Viva brand has quickened with the announcement of three new modules: Viva Goals, Viva Results and Viva Engage.
In this post we’re going to explore the three new Viva modules, what they do and the value that they could bring to businesses.
What is Microsoft Viva?
Microsoft Viva as an employee experience platform that is delivered through Microsoft Teams. Initially four modules were announced, all of which have since launched. Even though Viva is positioned as a platform, it is arguably a series of separate apps within the Teams platform:
Viva Connections: A gateway to internal communications and company resources
Viva Insights: Personalised analytics and related insights for individuals, managers and leaders that support well-being, collaboration, productivity and more
Viva Learning: A learning hub that aggregates learning resources from a variety of different systems and sources
Viva Topics: A knowledge discovery platform that uses AI to source resources and experts on different topics.
Microsoft Viva has had huge interest from intranet, digital workplace and Microsoft 365 teams, who are actively deploying one or more of its modules across the digital workplace.
Let’s explore the opportunities the three recently announced modules bring.
Although Viva Goals was only formally announced in May 2022, it’s been on the roadmap for considerably longer, and is a direct result of Microsoft’s acquisition of Ally.io, a leading provider of Objectives and Key Results (OKR) software. OKR software helps organisations, teams and individuals to set meaningful goals and then record progress towards meeting them; it is a good way to give strategic context to employee’s daily work, for example.
The Viva Goals module brings the core OKR functionality from the Ally.io solution into Microsoft Teams, and presents an interesting option for organisations either using existing OKR software, or wanting to introduce it. Using Viva Goals will bring OKRs more directly into the flow of work in organisations and departments that use Microsoft Teams.
Viva Goals has several different options including:
- OKRs available at the individual, team and organisational level
- The ability to align OKRs with projects and tasks, with some integrations with applications like Jira
- The ability to build custom dashboards to show OKR progress that can then be shared to help discussions, for example about progress of projects
- Embed OKRs into Teams discussion threads.
Viva Goals will be made fully available in Q3 2022, and will be added as an option for those who have subscribed to the full Viva suite. It will also likely be available on a separate subscription. We can see Viva Goals really adding value in some organisations, and complementing other Viva modules, including Viva Learning
Viva Sales was announced in June and represents a slight departure from the rest of the suite, in that it is positioned as a “seller experience application” rather than being applicable for all employees.
Viva Sales provides a range of tools to help anyone involved in sales processes. These include using AI to facilitate the capture of client and sales data that might arise from interactions in Teams and Outlook which will automatically be entered into a CRM system, reducing or even eliminating manual entry.
Although this will undoubtedly include Microsoft Dynamics, the use of the generic CRM term in the announcement hints that there may well be connectors to other popular CRM systems.
Although the details are still vague, other features of Viva Sales will include:
- Surfacing data from an organisation’s CRM system in Outlook and Teams, to provide context to communications and conversations with and about customers and prospects
- Providing various insight and suggestions using AI, relating to sales conversations, interaction and activity
- AI-driven analysis of sales calls and meetings providing actions lists, analysis of performance and even sentiment analysis.
Although the full details of Viva Sales have still to come out and the module won’t be released until Q4 2022, we see lots of potential with Viva Sales.
CRM systems often do not get populated as much as they should do and can be disconnected from communication channels; we can see this working particularly well where non-sales staff are responsible for client relationships and even selling, and would benefit in having more visibility of CRM data. The AI-powered insights also sound intriguing.
The latest module to be announced is Viva Engage, revealed in a recent post on the Microsoft Viva blog and announced at the Microsoft Inspire event. Viva Engage is positioned as being “designed to help people and teams to be their best..[and] give leaders a new way to shape culture at their organization by unlocking communication and engagement opportunities for everyone”.
However, Viva Engage is not actually new and is, to some extent, another re-branding exercise from Microsoft. It’s essentially a newly designed Yammer Communities app for Microsoft Teams that will replace the existing app and adds some new features on top of the existing Yammer platform. This brings the Yammer experience more directly into Teams, and again has real value in organisations where Teams adoption is high.
The key new element is a feature where people can create “storylines” using traditional posts, or photos and videos (now rebranded as “stories”), similar to some consumer social media platforms. Stories will appear in a carousel format at the top of a storylines tab..
Viva Engage will be free for anybody who has an existing license that covers Yammer. The Communities app will be rebranded in late August.
The announcement of Viva Engage has led some to initial confusion. In the threads to the original announcement and articles, some have said that trying to differentiate between Viva Engage and Yammer is confusing to explain to users, essentially as Engage is essentially a Yammer app. Others have asked what it means for the future of Yammer.
Defending the announcement Steve Nguynen confirmed that there is no plan to rebrand Yammer and that the “best way to think about this announcement is that Yammer is going to power the Viva Engage experience…and the beginning of us bringing Yammer more closely to our Viva suite of products.”
While we like the new storylines features, we agree that the positioning of Viva Engage in relation to Yammer is a little confusing as they are essentially the same product. We’d also like to see the Storylines feature added to the general Yammer platform to keep everything in sync.
Keep on moving forward with Viva
Microsoft keeps on investing in Viva and the three new modules extend the scope of what it can do. We wouldn’t be surprised if more modules were announced through the year.
If you’d like to discuss how you can use Microsoft Viva in your organisation or want to explore the potential of the newly announced modules, then get in touch!