Why Microsoft Viva Matters for Internal Communications

Launched in February 2021, Microsoft Viva is an employee engagement platform designed for the post-pandemic, fully remote or hybrid workforce.

Viva is hosted by Microsoft Teams, and it makes use of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. SharePoint and Yammer are particularly integral to using Viva for internal communications.

The platform includes four individual applications that are designed to work together as an online hub of employee activity. Viva Connections facilitates social interactions based around a newsfeed. Viva Insights is designed to support productivity by tracking the usage of various Microsoft tools. Viva Topics is designed to help workers find answers to questions and connect two subject matter experts within their organization. Viva Learning is designed to connect employees to learning resources that allow them to grow as professionals.

Taken collectively, this suite of applications is being positioned as a replacement for the physical office.

Key Viva Applications: Connections and Insights

For companies looking to use Viva for internal communications, the two primary applications of concern are Connections and Insights.

Available on both desktops and mobile devices, Viva Connections provides employees with company news, productivity resources and the ability to interact with others. Connections does this by pulling in content from the larger Microsoft 365 ecosystem. For example, Connections could display the latest update to a SharePoint site next to a new post on Yammer.

Connections creates a curated, company-branded experience capable of engaging remote workers, deskless employees, office-based managers and others. High levels of employee engagement can lead to a number of positive outcomes, including higher profitability.

For employees, Insights is meant to provide a window into their engagement and productivity, but the same application is designed to help internal communications professionals track employees’ adoption and use of Microsoft tools, such as the use of Outlook, SharePoint and Yammer.

Internal communications professionals can therefore use Insights to gauge the effectiveness of an internal email campaign or Yammer announcement. Importantly, Microsoft has said Insights doesn’t monitor the behaviors of specific workers. The company has said it uses aggregation and de-identification measures to protect the privacy of individual employees.

Company leaders can use Insights to boost employee engagement by promoting employee development, managing workloads and increasing cohesion within teams.

While Viva’s other two modules, Learning and Topics, aren’t as relevant to internal communications, they still support high levels of employee engagement. Managers can feature essential resources in Learning to boost engagement by supporting career development. Topics supports employee engagement by acting as a resource for maintaining high productivity.

What Internal Communications Challenges Doesn’t Viva Address?

Because it’s embedded within Teams, Viva Connections is great for people who are already active Teams users. However, people who do not use Teams on a regular basis won’t get as much additional value from the inclusion of Connections.

For desk-based users, the inclusion of Connections adds a layer of complexity, raising the bar for infrequent users: First, users must know how to use Teams, and then they must learn how to use Connections. This can complicate adoption by some employees, particularly those who are not desk-based. Internal communications professionals know getting deskless workers to adopt another communications tool can be difficult.

Internal communications professionals should also know that Viva Connections doesn’t add a lot of functionality to their toolbox. This can be an issue for teams looking to develop campaigns, use an editorial system and distribute content across various channels. Connections also don’t add much when it comes to gathering feedback and cross-channel analysis.

Preferring Teams Over SharePoint

Microsoft made a bold decision when it chose to host Viva within Teams, as opposed to SharePoint. While this makes a lot of sense given the realities of the pandemic workplace, it also leads to some drawbacks.

Microsoft never developed a comprehensive intranet solution based on SharePoint. Instead that was left to third-party providers who were able to develop so-called “intranet in a box” solutions. But now, Viva Connections, with its attractive landing page, appears to be an attempt by Microsoft to make up for this oversight and entice companies to start using the application as a de facto intranet.

Building everything on top of Teams can create a noisy information ecosystem. Content creation must be done in either Yammer or SharePoint. While Yammer is a rather intuitive tool, classic internal communications are still based in SharePoint and most editorial departments find SharePoint to be cumbersome.

Rather than an easy out-of-the-box solution from a third-party provider, the ad hoc approach of using Connections as an intranet quickly becomes unnecessarily complicated. This approach can be particularly complicated for large companies with content contributors dispersed across many different locations.

While Microsoft Viva is a great add-on for Teams users, it does not support comprehensive control of internal communications for massive companies in the same way offered by numerous third-party solutions.

Tyrane’s Analytic Solutions are Intranet Agnostic

With the massive shift to remote working, the intranet space is changing rapidly. Our analytics solutions are designed to extract insights from specific tools like Yammer and Teams, and the recent addition of Viva to the Microsoft ecosystem provides even more data for our technology to analyze. Internal communications teams and company leaders alike can use Tyrane analytics to uncover granular insights, refine their strategies and boost employee engagement.

If you’d like to learn more about how Tryane can extract more value out of your internal communications efforts, please contact us today.