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Viva Sweet!

Microsoft Viva is kind of like a college degree.  The greater whole is comprised of many other pieces and parts.  The degree is made of many classes coming together, some working in harmony with one another and some providing wonderful rabbit trails of elucidation. The Viva suite is a collection of apps and services that each have their own goals within the broader context of employee engagement.  The one thing they have in common is that all of them call Microsoft Teams home. 

This is the first of two posts designed to help you understand how the Viva suite components both stand alone and fit together.  This first post is identifying all the pieces one by one.  The next will be how they move in concert to build a very potent change management toolbox.

Let's start with what Viva modules exist today and a quick summary of their intended use.  Let's start out with the "free" modules that are included with M365 standard licenses.

Viva Connections

For about the last year or so, this module provided an app that could serve as a way to get to your SharePoint home site's home page inside of Teams.  The app can be branded with your logo and name of choice and also reveals the global navigation set within SharePoint when the icon is clicked a second time.  Enabling Connections provides a dashboard and feed web part which can be added to your home page.

In the near future, a new experience will be rolled out for this module.  Rather than essentially putting your SharePoint home page into Teams, it will serve as something of a front door for the entire Viva suite. Microsoft tells us in the roadmap that the desktop experience will act "as the home base for Viva experiences in Teams" that will display "the most important tasks, tools, news, and resources in one central place." 

The Connections app will show assignments from Viva Learning, cards to discover Viva Topics, and the feed web part will be an AI-driven personalized aggregation of SharePoint, Yammer, Stream, and Teams content. Cards from third party apps can be added to the dashboard.  Frontline employees will get their own out of the box experience with cards relative to them.

 Viva Engage

This module essentially brings Yammer into Teams under the Viva umbrella.  The branding makes sense as Yammer has long been related to employee experience providing more formal communities like ERGs (enterprise resource groups) as well as social communities led from the ground up.  Yammer still exists on its own, but the embedded experience in Teams allows for notifications from communities to be added to your activity feed just like those from your Teams, meetings, and chats.  

The question capability from Yammer has also been insinuated into Teams meetings, where a more formal Q&A can now replace or augment free form chat, but we don't lose the other interactive and collaborative features like we would with a live event.  The concept of Topics in Yammer can also directly integrate with Viva Topics if the licensing is activated.

There are some modules which are sort of free.  At least they feature some functionality that is included with M365 and some additional features that can be unlocked with a module-specific license or a Viva suite license.  Let's take a look at those.

Viva Learning

This module is also a Teams app that can connect learning content to the employees who need it.  Microsoft Learn and free LinkedIn Learning content is available without adding costs and you can set up a SharePoint site to be a knowledge hub with documents and links which are crawled and added to Learning with your organization as the provider.  

One note though, this does not integrate with the Learning Pathways solution but if you've added your own content to an LP site, that can be connected.  You can also add third-party content with a subscription to those services and added licensing for Viva Learning or, once again, the Viva Suite.

Viva Insights

You've probably received the daily briefing emails reminding you of potential commitments or tasks and reminding you to book focus time.  You, like me, might stare into the face of Viva and laugh, demanding the fates fill your calendar once, twice, or three times over!  

If you dig a little deeper, you can find the Insights app in Teams which provides tips on improving work/life balance, protecting your time and focus, and suggestions on better habits for teamwork.  With a premium or suite license, additional tabs for managers and leaders are available with deep but anonymized insights into the patterns and behaviors of their teams.  These insights can be tailored by writing effective queries using workplace analytics.

Just remember, this is not a tool for spying on people.  The insights are anonymous on purpose.  Build your team on trust!

Now let's talk about the modules that you can only get by licensing the modules or paying for a Viva suite license.  File these under "well worth the cost for the benefit."

 Viva Topics

According to, by the year 2025 there will be 463 exabytes generated each day across the globe.  That's the equivalent of 450,000 BILLION printed pages each day! We have 99 problems, but having lots of information is not one.  In addition to all the new data, most organizations hold on to old information whether it's needed or not for fear of getting rid of something we might inexplicably need for the first time in 10 years.  

This is a knowledge management module which uses Microsoft Graph and search to automatically find and tag SharePoint content and create suggested topics.  These topics can then be curated by a human to produce topic pages including the right people, sites, documents, and connections to other topics to find information quickly and without a person having to go through them all and tag them with metadata.

In addition to SharePoint, Topics links to cards are surfaced in Outlook and Office on the web, Teams, Yammer and Microsoft Search.

 Viva Goals

Formerly, this module helps organizations to create OKRs (Objective and Key Results) along with projects to implement those results and track those OKRs over a period of time.  These can be for a team, a department, or the entire organization.  Dashboards including panels and widgets present the OKR data and progress in a user-friendly format, but the real power behind this module comes with the skill of writing effective OKRs.

If that's not enough Viva for you, wait... there's more!

  • Viva Sales is available now and combines Teams, Office 365 and your CRM tool of choice (like D365 or Salesforce) making Teams even more of a one stop shop for sellers.
  • Viva Amplify is an upcoming communications tool which seems to me at first glance to be a combination of a marketing campaign tool and the Company Communicator Teams app.
  • Viva Pulse is a tool that connects managers to their team members to get confidential feedback.  This seems a natural extension of Viva Insights to me where we are gathering information via signals from Teams, SharePoint, and Exchange Online but Pulse allows more direct feedback to be included as well.
  • People in Viva is the module in which we all just give up and import ourselves digitally into the Viva world.  Not quite, but is a way to expand the organization card (which has been a Teams staple) to easily connect topics to people by expertise, role, location, and more.
Quite an impressive suite of tools.  Just like a college degree, I bet you feel smarter already!  I've written about some of these modules in my book which I've linked to below.  You can also find some helpful links for your own deeper study.  Next time, we'll look at how these tools work together to make a change management platform mapped to ProSci processes and best practices.