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Microsoft Viva is Reimagining the Online Workspace – Is It Right For You?

By Elantis on March 12, 2021
Working from Home

With the release of Microsoft Viva, Microsoft is attempting to clearly define the concept of the Employee Experience Platform (EXP). EXP has become an emerging category in the sphere of business, especially due to ways in which the pandemic has forced us all to reconsider and reconfigure the structure and operations of our companies. In a recent article published on Microsoft’s Blog, titled “The Case for EXP”, the author highlights Microsoft Teams and 365 leader Jared Spataro’s experience in working with employees throughout the pandemic, and the challenges presented by the world’s “first-ever all-remote workforce”. Due to the world-altering events of the pandemic, the article states that “the need to infuse frontline work with digital tools for communication, learning, and information sharing has never been more visibly acute”.

The Microsoft’s blog post discusses the necessity to adapt to the ways that working and office culture have changed throughout the past year, and the first step towards this adaptation is accepting the fact that we are in a pivotal societal and industrial moment regarding operations. It goes without saying that the internet has consistently urged us to consider replacing more traditional forms of communication and information sharing over the past few decades, and this trajectory has continued to the point where we are now reckoning with the fact that the primary “space” in which our employees communicate is no longer bound to a physical office. Through a variety of applications and services, employees all across the world are now communicating primarily on the internet, and, with our work taking place increasingly online, there is a growing need to develop an online space in which all third-party communication services are integrated. The need to build an online space of communication and integration is the foundational idea of the Employee Experience Platform.

What is Microsoft Viva?

Viva is Microsoft’s manifestation of the EXP. Since Viva attempts to create a holistic experience for its users, it isn’t necessarily a single “product” as much as it is a consolidation of existing Microsoft 365 services, including integrations with other commonly-used third-party services. Viva is separated into four different modules, listed below.

Viva Connections

Microsoft describes Viva Connections as “the launchpad for Microsoft Viva and the gateway to a modern experience”. Viva Connections is a personalized way for an employee to remain informed and engaged with their coworkers and management teams. With Viva Connections, managers can ensure that all employees are receiving curated content such as news and communications. Viva Connections also appears in other apps such as Microsoft Teams.

Viva Insights

Developed as a response to the documented increase in employee burnout during the pandemic, Viva Insights is a way to collect data regarding the pace, efficiency, and productivity patterns of your employees. Using data-analytics, Viva Insights helps you keep a finger on the pulse of employee challenges and successes, providing valuable feedback and advice in order to help everyone develop better habits and overcome any challenges put forth by a work-from-home lifestyle. Viva Insights can also be integrated with a number of other third-party services.

Viva Topics

Microsoft describes Viva Topics as “ an AI-powered solution that automatically organizes content and expertise across your systems and teams into related topics such as projects, products, processes, and customers.” Integrating with Microsoft Search, Viva Topics uses AI to link related information and content for Viva users, so they have no need to spend any time searching for the information. Viva Topics gives employees all the contextual information they need to free up more time for producing results.

Viva Learning

One of Microsoft’s newest features is found in Viva Learning, where Microsoft is now providing a service in the Learning Management Systems (LMS) market. Microsoft states that “Viva Learning delivers learning through Microsoft Teams, integrating world-class content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, and third-party providers with your own content library”. All employees will have numerous modules so that they can learn important skills in a timely manner. All learning content is integrated and put one place to make your employees’ learning experience a seamless and user-friendly experience.

Is Microsoft Viva Right for You?

Now that you know all about the emerging category of EXP and how Microsoft Viva is aiming to establish EXP as the future for the ways in which businesses will operate, it is important to address the advantages and disadvantages of Microsoft Viva before you decide to use it in your organization. From a functional standpoint, Microsoft Viva will definitely be a beneficial upgrade for many companies, with the customizability and integrability of the four modules of Viva Insights, Connection, Learning, and Topics. Viva will clearly optimize the operations of companies that have found success with already-existing services in Microsoft 365.

With that being said, an upgrade to Microsoft Viva may not be logical for all businesses. There are some costs that may add up if you are looking to pay for different integrations and customizations in Viva (for example, some costs have been listed at $5 extra per user, which can add up quickly in large organizations). Furthermore, if you are not a large company, you may not need the full functionality of Viva. For example, the Viva Insights feature seems to be designed to use data-driven analytics for companies with hundreds, if not thousands, of employees. Therefore, if you are a smaller company that has found success working with services such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, there may not be enough value to pay for all Microsoft Viva has to offer.

There are also still some gaps between Microsoft Viva and the full experience that users want from their intranet. It is certain that Microsoft will continue to expand Viva’s functionality in the months and years, but for the time being organizations should weigh their options carefully between SharePoint and Teams out of the box functionality, intranet-in-a-box providers, and the adoption of Microsoft Viva. It is always wise to make an informed decision before you invest.

Whether you’d like assistance weighing your EXP options or you are ready to try out Microsoft Viva, our team of Microsoft professionals can help. Please reach out with any questions and we can help you decide whether Microsoft Viva is right for you.

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