Enhancing Your Intranet with Microsoft Viva

26 March 2021 | Christine Ellis

Microsoft Viva can add value for your intranet and employees, combining your existing technologies and enabling their features to come together for a truly enhanced user experience – here’s how.

Following the launch of Microsoft Viva, we’ve had a lot of questions from colleagues and clients about the technology and the benefits it holds for business intranets and employee experience. 

Two of our experts got together to discuss these points and offer some insights. Watch the video of their discussion or read Q&A highlights for a summary of Viva and what it can bring to your digital workplace.

Our discussion on Microsoft Viva for intranets was led by:

  • David Bowman, Product Director for Fresh Intranet and Digital Workplace at Content+Cloud
  • Chris O’Brien, Products and Services Director at Content+Cloud. A specialist in Microsoft technologies such as Office 365 and SharePoint, Chris has also been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 13 years.

What is Microsoft Viva?

Microsoft Viva is essentially Microsoft’s foray into the world of employee experience.

What it is trying to do is bring together learning, wellbeing, knowledge and organisational news into one package and surface the experience in Microsoft Teams.

This is with the aim of solving a specific problem that many organisations have. They’ve made investments in different platforms – whether it’s learning and content, whether it’s digital workplace. But for many, it becomes a disparate patchwork. Microsoft is bringing this together in Teams. To allow the integration of these systems and applications that you might have that aren’t in the Microsoft ecosystem, in a coherent way.

Which business pain points does Microsoft Viva answer?

The way we use technology in the workplace is changing. We’re all spending much more time in Microsoft Teams.

As a result, many businesses have been asking “How can we make useful and valuable content in the flow of employees’ work items?” Microsoft has responded to this need and has accelerated a solution with Viva.

Can Microsoft Viva integrate with other tools?

Yes – Viva is designed to blend and get the most from a whole host of tools, such as SharePoint, Yammer and Workplace Analytics, as well as third-party apps.

We’ll cover the different elements of Microsoft Viva and how they come together for a coherent experience. These are:

  • Viva Connections
  • Viva Insights
  • Viva Learning
  • Viva Topics

What is Viva Connections?

Viva Connections appears in Teams as a home site app, along with the other apps your users see and engage with every day.

It allows you to bring your existing SharePoint intranet into Teams without any re-engineering and while leveraging your existing investment in Microsoft SharePoint.

It’s important to say that Viva Connections doesn’t replace the need to have a SharePoint intranet. It does not supply you with a site or a new area of content.

Rather, it provides businesses with a space to drop their digital workplace into. That’s how you bring your experience into Viva.

Connections functions by plugging in to your existing Office 365, SharePoint-based digital workplace and surfacing this in Microsoft Teams as part of the holistic Viva experience.

Editing and collating content still takes place in the browser. This is because Viva is not a new app which replaces SharePoint. Rather, the user will continue to access Office 365 and SharePoint Online. They’ll go to the site or page they want to edit and create and they’ll be using all of the same web parts they did previously.

How can I use Viva Insights to enhance employee experience?

Viva Insights is a key part of offering the best possible employee experience. It brings together statistics and insights to help users make the most of their time and work together effectively.

It also allows managers to understand where processes can be improved.

A few things come together to provide insights. One of them is Microsoft MyAnalytics, which many businesses use already.

It provides personal recommendations to users based on how they work, collaborate and interact with other people. It also offers the opportunity to enhance time management by providing insights into what percentage of their time they spend in meetings, collaborating or focusing on tasks.

Workplace Analytics is also harnessed in Viva Insights. This is a level up from MyAnalytics, giving a helicopter view of how the overall organisation is working together. The data it produces can be used to evaluate whether people have enough time to focus, drive change, innovate and drive productivity.

Viva Insights can also allow for the integration of third-party apps, such as Glint and Headspace.

Glint is an organisation acquired by Microsoft which enables employee engagement and surveying. It reaches out to users with targeted questions and gathers this qualitative information.

Headspace is a wellbeing and mindfulness app many businesses will already have an organisational subscription to. Viva Insights can surface Headspace alongside analytics and surveys to offer an interactive, engaging and wide-ranging user experience.

Can Viva Learning be used to develop my employee’s skills?

Viva Learning is designed to provide your teams with easy access to training that will develop their skillsets. It allows you to publish, curate and manage different types of educational content from both inside and outside of your company.

Some of the internal content might be content that you create. Maybe there are people around the business that create videos, sites, pages and documentation that you need to surface in an organised way. You might also make an investment in an external content provider. And there are some big names out there that Microsoft is integrating with Viva

Learning. These include LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Pluralsight and Skillsoft.

Viva Learning allows managers to design learning pathways and provide employees with a curated experience.

If a manager wanted to give learning objectives to their team, they would choose the courses and assign them as tasks, pointing users to the content. They can also track progress and attainment to measure how their team is performing. Colleagues can also share educational content and hold discussions on it among themselves.

What value can Viva Topics bring to my business?

Viva Topics is Microsoft’s AI-generated, but human-curated, knowledge for your organisation.

It is one of the elements of Project Cortex, a Microsoft initiative with the aim of a renewed focus to content services and knowledge management.

Topics mines the content that’s being created around your business. This could be insights, documents, videos or other forms of communication.

It establishes what it perceives to be the most important concepts for your organisation – you could almost say that it builds you an organisational Wikipedia. 

How it does this is by generating a list of topics. It proposes them to a knowledge team or a knowledge administrator, who assesses their suitability. 

The content can then be published to a topic page, which is a landing area for the concepts your business is working on. These could be projects, disciplines, a community or a practice and so on.

Viva Insights also gathers the most relevant documents for each topic. As a result, the richest and most relevant content for each area can be conveniently accessed by users.

Once the administrator or knowledge team decides the topics are suitable for publishing, they retain some control over what the topic page looks like.

Viva Topics identifies subject matter experts in each area to keep them engaging and contributing knowledge. It also allows you to tweak and tailor content, presenting it as needed to your target audiences.

Are these Viva elements available now and what is their pricing structure?

  • Viva Connections – The full experience will be available soon for the desktop and later this year for mobile. As this is simply the home site app pointing to your existing digital workplace and Office 365, no add-on plan or additional license will be needed for this.
  • Viva Insights – Some elements of Insights are available now through a preview version and can be accessed through Teams apps. It is expected to launch fully by Q2 2021. Two components feed into Viva Insights – MyAnalytics, which can be found as standard in Office 365 and used without an additional license. The second component, Workplace Analytics, requires additional licensing.
  • Viva Learning – Viva Learning will be available for preview in April 2021 and generally available in Q3. The aspects that allow you to produce organisational learning content and the videos and documents and pages that can be surfaced do not require additional licenses. But if you are integrating a third-party provider, such as LinkedIn Learning, Skillsoft or Coursera, you’ll require an organisational subscription to integrate their external content.
  • Viva Topics – This is generally available now. You will need additional licensing to use Viva Topics, available as a user-based add-on for Microsoft 365 plans for commercial customers.

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