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Microsoft Viva – Opportunities for Partners and Benefits for Customers

This blog will give you a high-level overview of Viva and its modules. I have tried to highlight benefits for customers and new opportunities for partners as we see Viva today. I am sure the Viva platform is expected to evolve once all modules are available in future.

Let's be more familiar with these four modules and their logos.

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According to Microsoft, Viva is an open platform designed to work seamlessly with your existing systems and tools, like your systems for HR, CRM and Learning Management (LMS). Some of these Viva modules are new concepts, and some are just re-packaging of existing Microsoft technologies such as SharePoint, LinkedIn Learning, SharePoint Syntex and Glint.

SharePoint Syntex is the name for Microsoft's AI-Based Knowledge Management platform, the first product from Project Cortex. SharePoint Syntex applies AI to identify knowledge and excerpts in Microsoft Graph and automatically organizes them into related topics. Another application called Glint is an employee engagement and wellbeing platform acquired by LinkedIn 2018 and came under Microsoft.

Viva is a commercial product from Microsoft, and every module will be priced separately. As of today, only one module has been released for customers, and that is Viva Topics.

Viva Connections This is positioned as a company's Intranet home page with the objective of improving internal communication with features like News, Announcements, Events and resources. This was launched in early 2020 with the name Home Site and now rebranded as Viva Connections. Microsoft has put branding on top of SharePoint out of box site features that make content visually pleasing.

Business benefits: Improves internal communication.

Underlying technology: Microsoft SharePoint and Communities (Yammer).

Price: Yet to be announced by Microsoft.

Availability: Limited private preview. General availability expected in mid-2021.

Opportunity for partners: Customization of theme and layout of Viva Connections as per customer requirements. Integration with other systems to bring information within a custom site or web part. Opportunity for training and adoption will be there for partners having SharePoint skill.

Takeaway thoughts: SharePoint based Intranets are becoming the first choice due to the popularity of Office365. It is effortless to create an Intranet site within Office365 using out of box features, but governance and managing content permissions are the most significant challenge to date. Adoption for out of the box or HomeSite has been low due to the complexity of SharePoint. Intranet requirements of a mid and large enterprise are not simple, especially when multiple departments and subsidiaries come into the picture. The launch of Home Site in 2020 generated more awareness among customers and this has helped Intranet product vendors to sell more.

Viva Insights This offers a combination of features focusing on the wellbeing of the employee and analytics about work routine. An e-mail from Microsoft Insights has become familiar to all of us for the past few months as it proposes few actions and automatically suggests follow up on your e-mails. Now this will be available as a dashboard within Teams.
Managers will be able to track the working pattern of their teams and plan accordingly to create a better work-life balance. Microsoft has tried to add some socializing features to make it more suitable for remote working.

Business benefits: Employee wellbeing and better work culture.

Underlying technology: Microsoft AI and Glint.

Price: Yet to be announced by Microsoft

Availability: Limited private preview. General availability not yet announced.

Opportunity for partners: Partners with AI capabilities will be able to build some interesting stuff as Add-In to this. There will be opportunity for MSPs to build advisory practice around this.

Takeaway thoughts: Integration with other systems will help companies to get a better insight on actual time being spent by employees on Microsoft and non-Microsoft systems. HR may play an important role in suggesting more effective work practices based on these analytics. Though we anticipate challenges like change management and adoption as employee privacy might be a hindrance even though Microsoft has said that they will not compromise on the Privacy of the users.

Viva Topics This is a knowledge creation and distribution App that picks up content from Teams, SharePoint sites, Outlook and Dynamics, and it creates knowledge topics using AI and keeps them updating automatically.

These topics can either be created manually or automatically using AI. Once a topic is created, AI will update the topic and related resources as it discovers new information. In addition, there is the option to manually update topic cards and pages to adjust the topic description or highlight new resources and connections.

Business benefit: Scattered content gets converted into useful knowledge using AI.

Underlying technology: SharePoint Syntex

Price: US$ 5 user/month

Opportunity for Partners: Later this year, Microsoft is expected to release APIs that allow customers to highlight topics and show topic cards in additional apps. These APIs will allow independent software vendor (ISV) partners to build integrations into Microsoft Viva Topics from any other system. There will be opportunity for MSPs to build advisory practice around this.

Takeaway thought: This is an altogether new layer from Microsoft that will complement every existing system – Be it Microsoft based, or other systems implemented by customers.

Viva Learning Viva Learning simply makes it easier to discover, share, and engage with that great content. This will be a central hub for learning in Microsoft Teams, where content can be published for the user to access and learn in one place – including LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, third-party content providers, and a customer's own content.

Business benefits: Structured learning management system that helps you to either create your learning content or get from other learning systems such as Skillsoft, Pluralsight, Coursera, and edX and LinkedIn Learning. The manager can assign learning content for the team and monitor their learning progress.

Underlying technology: LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn

Price: Yet to be announced by Microsoft

Availability: Limited private preview. General availability not yet announced.

Opportunity for Partners: Integrate other learning systems for which Microsoft may provide APIs such as SAP Success Factor. There will be an opportunity to customize the branding of learning screens. An opportunity for ISVs will be to build standard connectors to push and integrate learning content from various LMS systems. There will be opportunity for MSPs to build advisory practice around this.

Takeaway thoughts: Microsoft has tried to leverage the LinkedIn learning platform and extend that to Teams users. At this moment, we are not sure whether Microsoft is planning to use only LinkedIn underlying technology or Viva Learning paid users may also get some free access to LinkedIn learning content. Existing LMS vendors who have built their products on Office365 or Teams must watch this space as Microsoft may act as a competitor. However, Microsoft has mentioned that Viva Learning will complement other LMS. At this stage, we are not able to comment on the ease of use and governance of Viva Learning, and that might be interesting to watch going forward.

Concluding thoughts:

  • Viva will complement all existing systems. I see that MS Viva is using intelligence to make learning and knowledge more accessible to employees.
  • We do not see any threat to existing HRMS systems. Existing vendors must create Viva integrations as soon as possible.
  • We do not see any threat to existing Learning systems as Viva is trying to consolidate the learning content and not competing with others.
  • We do not see any threat to existing Intranet products as these products are complimenting Team and Office365 with better governance and simplification.
  • Viva cost will be crucial for SMB adoption. We'll have to wait for the pricing announcement for all modules.
  • Viva is expected to create a host of opportunities for both ISVs and MSPs.


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