29th Mar 2021
3 Min Read

Viva la platform revolution. What Microsoft Viva means for internal comms

Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart
IC & Engagement

Ring the bell: it’s time for a new digital internal comms platform release!

Microsoft recently announced the launch of Viva, their new employee experience programme. But they also dropped the news that Viva would be free for all of their enterprise customers.

In this video, I explore what Microsoft Viva is all about, look at the platform’s functions and benefits, and how it could help us achieve internal comms goals and objectives.

Read all about it – our head of digital’s thoughts on Microsoft Viva.

Microsoft says that Viva is an employee experience platform that brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources and insights. But what does that mean?

Think about Workplace, Dropbox, Yammer, SharePoint and OneDrive. Each has its own purpose and design. The ways you use and interact with each platform are unique, and they all feel different. It’s just like Facebook and Instagram – both are social media platforms, but your experience with each varies massively.

Microsoft is aiming to combine all these different workplace-related digital platforms into one space through Viva, making it a hub for employees to connect, communicate and collaborate.

What’s important to note is that Viva lives within Teams. Viva isn’t another platform that Microsoft are launching per se. It’s an experience that you have within the Teams environment. Microsoft are really banking on Viva becoming a go-to place for your employees.

Viva comes in four distinct flavours

Microsoft Viva – Topics

By using smart AI, Topics brings together your work, projects and documents and puts them in one dedicated place. Plus, Topics will also recommend documents that other colleagues are actively working on that might be relevant to you.

Microsoft Viva – Learning

Learning is designed to curate all the learning resources you have in your organisation under one roof. Think of it as the place to go for all those introductory and informative videos, documents and how to guides.

Microsoft Viva – Insights

Insights uses behavioural and survey data to paint a picture of the health and wellbeing of your people. Insights could tell you how much overtime your employees are working, or how much time they’re allocating for breaks, for example.

This data can help inform managers, flagging if they need to speak to a colleague about their wellbeing. Putting these insights to use can help change behaviours, spot trends or inform wellbeing initiatives.

Microsoft Viva – Connections

Although Topics, Learning and Insights are all chunky offerings with huge potential to help you reach your IC goals, I believe that Connections is the most relevant tool for comms specialists.

When Facebook announced Workplace, I wasn’t too excited. Why? Because copying and pasting Facebook into a business environment simply wouldn’t work. The things we do at work are very different to the ways that we interact with our friends and family outside of work.

But, since then, Facebook have really turned Workplace around. Now, it’s a damn good piece of internal comms kit.

I had the same response when Microsoft announced Teams, because pasting Slack into the Office 365 environment seemed to be a bit of a cheat move. But, like Workplace, Teams has matured over the last few years and is now punching well above its weight.

I have my reservations about Viva’s Connections function. Some of the early screenshots Microsoft have released remind me of the clunky old AOL homepage. It’s important to remember that every person that visits these portals has unique experiences and expectations – and that trying to service all of them means that you never really serve any of them.

However, as we’ve seen with those daily Cortana emails that recommend activities for you, with Viva, we might have a chance to create a curated portal for your employees that actually does what it’s meant to do: serve content and documents that are of interest to them.

It’s time to talk with your IT team

Microsoft Viva being a free platform doesn’t make it more useful. But it does make it more accessible and ripe for experimentation.

But, as we’ve seen with bundled platforms like Yammer, simply switching it on and hoping your people adapt to the new platform isn’t going to happen. These platforms require a considered set up, exploration and understanding before you officially roll it out.

Right now, IT teams that have purchased Office 365, and are currently Office 365 customers, are being contacted by Microsoft to talk about Microsoft Viva. If you’re an IC pro, you have to be in those meetings. You’re a key stakeholder and you need to bring your experience and perspective to these conversations, so you’re not caught out when your teams suddenly turn on Viva.

Need some advice?

If you need some help navigating Microsoft Viva, or want a steer on how to have those conversations in your business, get in touch.

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