Hybrid work is here to stay. In the past two years we have seen Microsoft Teams features focusing on making the “new normal” work easier and enabling us to collaborate better than before. A year ago, Microsoft Viva was announced as a way to help us cope better with constant change, something especially important in the age of remote and asynchronous work. Viva also helps users stay up-to-date with news and skill and find information faster and better. In other words: Viva focuses on the workday experience and helps us to develop ourselves and connect with our colleagues.
We’re going to see significant improvements to various Microsoft products this year. Here’s my list of the Microsoft Teams and Viva advancements I’m looking forward to the most.
Let’s look at Microsoft Teams features first.
Microsoft Teams Most Anticipated Features
1. Mesh for Teams and Microsoft Metaverse
Microsoft first announced Microsoft Mesh at Ignite in March 2021, and then later that year at Ignite in November 2021 they announced that Mesh for Teams will come to Preview during H1/2022. Mesh for Teams will make it easy to access Microsoft Metaverse by switching to an immersive meeting experience directly from within a Teams meeting.
An immersive meeting experience will make it easier to collaborate in a virtual space. Unlike in a traditional 2D meeting, we can walk (or move, to be more accurate) over to people to talk to them, form small groups easily, and mingle around. Using a virtual whiteboard, we can ideate and create while talking through ideas together – next to the whiteboard. If there are people in the same meeting joining via a physical meeting room with, for example, a Surface Hub, they can also participate using the same Whiteboard. Hybrid meetings and work will be easier and more versatile with Mesh for Teams and Microsoft Metaverse.
This will be a big metaverse enabler since people can use Mesh for Teams with their Teams desktop without having to wear a VR headset. You will also be able to use Teams on mobile to join these immersive meetings, according to Microsoft announcements. This makes metaverse and immersive meetings accessible to a large number of people – after all, Teams has 270 million monthly active users as of January 2022.
What we will see during summer 2022 is going to be just the first step in a long journey towards the wide adoption of the immersive metaverse. It is, after all, a big game changer and Mesh for Teams opens the door for a large number of business users. Check out Vesa’s personal blog for more.
2. Microsoft Loop in Other Apps and Context IQ
Microsoft Loop is a very exciting new tool that was first announced at Ignite in November 2021. It will allow us to create content together both synchronously and asynchronously. Based in Fluid Framework, all changes will be synchronized automatically to all instances where the same content is being used. During late 2021, Loop became usable in Microsoft Teams private chats and group chats within the organization. Read more about how to use them here.
During 2022 we will see Loop expand to other tools like Outlook email, OneNote, Word, PowerPoint, Whiteboard, and so on. This enables us to work together on content spanning different applications and unlock the potential for Loop in the hybrid world, especially when it will be enabled to work across organizations.
Loop Applications will also emerge during 2022 that will allow the creation of Loop Pages and grouping pages and content to agile workspaces. Context IQ will play a key role in how people can find and reuse Loop components and other data from Microsoft 365. For example, Context IQ technology will be the “digital fabric” used when adding Dynamics 365 records or documents to email or Teams chat. The best part is that typical users don’t have to know about Context IQ – they just need to know how to add Loops to the canvas.
3. Shared Channels
Microsoft Teams Shared Channels will allow people to create channels in Teams that can be agilely shared with internal and external users. For internal users this can be beneficial in various ways: removing oversharing by adding people to a Team when they only need access to a channel, removing the need to create new Teams with different members, and helping to share and engage more people more easily. Externally, this makes collaboration easier since accessing conversations and files won’t need a tenant switch. It’s a big step forward and I’m looking forward to it.
And yes, admins have plenty of control over how channels can be shared from and to organizations. Read more about Shared Channels here.
Microsoft Viva Most Anticipated Features
1. Viva Learning Features “Coming Soon”
Just a few months ago during Ignite 2021 it was revealed that Viva Learning is going to get essential features “soon.” While Microsoft is never especially clear about what “coming soon” means, I would suspect we will see these features by summer this year – or at least during this year.
Many of these features have been requested by customers, so this is more like a complete set of advancements needed for Viva Learning that appeals to organizations. For example, reporting and analytics is a key feature HR and learning managers require to be able to track learning. Learning paths, LMS Integration, and support for SCORM content is something that is very important for structural training. While SCROM content support is not visible on the above Ignite graphic, there were other sources that revealed it should surface during 2022. APIs are key to make learning more automated – having the access to APIs is needed so people don’t have to manually manage learning for employees and groups of people.
2. Viva Topics Teams integration and Other Advancements
Microsoft Viva Topics has largely been running in SharePoint pages and content. Topics is getting support for email and Yammer, but what I’m especially looking forward to is the Topics Teams application; this will bring in topics and knowledge directly to Teams and make it easy for users to find the information they need. This is roadmapped for March 2022, so we should be seeing this quite soon.
3. Ally.io Module Added to the Viva Family
Microsoft acquired Ally.io during October 2021. Ally.io will be the fifth Viva module and will be available during late 2022. Ally will align employees to work towards the company’s strategic mission and priorities. I’m looking forward to learning what Ally.io will bring to the Employee Experience (EXP), to management, and how it will make it easier for us to see how our work is progressing towards the strategy and goals of our organization. Watch an in-depth discussion on how Ally.io may impact the future of Microsoft Viva here.
This isn’t an exhaustive list; there are numerous other features that I’m looking forward to, such as improvements to meetings, the implementation of Microsoft Whiteboard to events/webinars, and especially, a way to share Whiteboard with external users. The external sharing is currently roadmapped for March 2022 – we’ll see if the schedule holds.
Is there anything you’re anticipating most for Teams or Viva? Let us known in the comments below!