For years, we have seen how Microsoft platforms have changed the way organizations collaborate. When Microsoft Viva was announced at this year’s Microsoft Ignite as a vehicle for employee experience and engagement, we knew we were witnessing yet another powerful platform primed to shape the future of work.
In our latest webinar with Microsoft MVP and Regional Director Dux Raymond Sy along with Microsoft Yammer Product Evangelist Steve Nguyen, Microsoft’s Director of Product Marketing Chris McNulty, and Microsoft Senior Product Marketing Manager Mike Holste, we took a closer look at the Microsoft Viva platform and what steps organizations can take to integrate this platform to improve the way we currently work and collaborate, especially as we’re seeing new work environments.
In this Q&A, we’ll tackle a range of unanswered questions brought up in the webinar and will link off to additional resources for further insight. Let’s get into the questions!
Does Microsoft Viva require any premium license or additional cost from our E5 subscription?
Nope, as long as you have any Microsoft 365 enterprise license you automatically have a license for Viva Connections. Or, if we put it a simpler way—if you are licensed for SharePoint, then you are licensed for Viva Connections as well.
But let’s make this clear: Viva is a set of interrelated premium applications that can be added to your E1, E3, or E5. While you may have a license for Viva Connections, most of Viva’s premium applications—Insights, Learning, and Topics—are all separate add-ons that you can mix and match based on your company’s needs. This means that while you may have a license, you will incur additional costs to purchase these premium applications.
Is Topics available in Teams for all Tenants?
Viva Topics has been released on February 4th of this year and is now available both for preview and purchase commercially. If you have the proper license (as mentioned above) and you’re on the commercial cloud, then Topics is available for you.
The Topics apps in Teams will ship in the second half of the year. For more information, visit microsoft.com/viva.
What’s the ETA for Viva Topics in GCC Cloud?
Microsoft plans to release Viva Topics for GCC Cloud in the second half of 2021, after completing their FEDRamp certification process.
Can you deploy Microsoft Viva to only a select set of users and not the whole program?
Yes. There are capabilities in Microsoft Teams where you can control the apps that your users see based on their position in the organizational chart. Viva Connections, being an app that can be plugged into Teams, can therefore be accessed by users based on the app policies that you set.
Do you have to have Syntex in order to use Topics?
No, you don’t. Likewise, you don’t need to have Topics to use Syntex. But since the two were built together, we expect that they’d be integrated even more tightly in the future, providing each other with a greater value when coupled together.
I manage an existing customized SharePoint Online intranet. Can my company’s SPO intranet be integrated into Viva Connections?
Yes! You would just need to do some housekeeping to get your homesites in order to ensure you have the best experience. Once everything is in order, you can also use the dashboard cards to link easily to other key sites.
When will the Dashboard SharePoint Online web part be available?
Plugging it into Microsoft Teams is now generally available, so you can go and deploy it right now. The mobile app will be available this summer along with a new version of the desktop app, so keep an eye out!
Does Topics have the ability to crawl through mail and include indexing of people who MIGHT be an expert or resource without disclosing content?
Viva Topics has the role of knowledge admin who can control where the indexing goes and what it selects. This admin can apply restrictions on where they want the AI to crawl and get information from.
When looking for topics, Microsoft looks at the security descriptors and recognizes the privacy of emails and the people who receive them, and that’s why they do not lift the contents of that email. What they do is use text analytics that look at all the communications and documents that are being linked in those emails to know whether the content is relevant to a certain topic.
Viva Topics also use signals that it gets from Graph and Syntex to crack into documents and look for suggested acronyms, alternate names, and definitions that can be pulled out for the topic page. In the next two months, Viva is set to have new features that look at security labels as well.
Is there a way for us to get access to testing/preview environments? Are these licenses available for purchase?
As mentioned above, Viva Connections is now available for trial and purchase. Check out the Microsoft Viva site to learn more about Viva.
Is the scope of Viva limited to Microsoft 365 (SP Online, OneDrive, Teams, etc.) or can it be extended to other systems for knowledge and discovery of content such as ServiceNow or Brightcove Videos, for example?
Viva Topics is based on the Microsoft Graph, which has a system of content connectors whose job is to index external information to make it searchable. There are connectors for ServiceNow, on-premises file shares, media wikis, SQL Server, Oracle Box, and others, and Microsoft is currently shipping an enhancement to make remote content eligible to be indexed for topic cards and pages. It’s expected to happen around the end of this calendar year. The dashboard will also allow some level of compatibility with third-party connectors.
Does Topics automatically highlight the word on its own or is there action required to do so?
You can generate topics in two ways:
- Create topics manually
- AI detects and generates topics automatically
Once a topic is created, the AI will then start to discover additional content for that topic by indexing and selecting relevant information across your organization’s conversations, sites, and pages. Users can also choose to edit topic cards and pages as well as restructure resources and topic descriptions and bring in new resources and connections as long as they have the appropriate permissions to do so.
When will Topics be available for general use in Microsoft Teams?
Since February 4th, Viva Topics has been commercially available for preview and purchase. The Topics app in Teams will ship in the second half of the year.
Is Microsoft working on adding a Viva Connections app to the app catalog that receives routine updates and doesn’t require Microsoft Teams admins to manually create and upload?
Yes. Coming this summer a more user-friendly deployment will be in the Teams app alongside the mobile and dashboard web part. Microsoft is looking into adding additional capabilities down the road as well.
Are edit permissions set at the individual topic level? If so, are they automatically assigned based on who the Graph is surfacing as SMEs?
Edit permissions granted to users can be restricted to certain topics. Knowledge admins can give these permissions while those granted them can choose to remain listed or remove themselves from the topics they have a connection to on the Topics Center homepage. Learn more about that here.
How does Microsoft Viva help administrators measure key performance indicators (like knowledge finding, dissemination, consumption of enterprise communications, etc.)?
Right now Viva is still in its early days, so we have yet to see more of that. But that feature is mostly handled by the team and organizational insights feature of Viva Insights, which we didn’t get to talk about in our webinar.
To put it simply, Insights will be looking at all the interaction patterns—how people are working, what communication channels they’re using—and integrate all that with business data. Ultimately, Viva Insights will evolve to provide better insights and connections so you will be able to have more information regarding your organization, how your people are consuming content, and other performance indicators.
These are still in the design phase, and Microsoft is still thinking about how to bring this to market, so we’ll surely be watching out for that.
How do you ensure that topics are reviewed and updated on a recurring basis? Can you build flows/automations to trigger reminders to topic owners?
Microsoft is working on AI development to make this happen (finding new topics or making changes to existing ones). Experts have shared that they already have interesting designs, but we’re going to have to wait for future announcements.
- Employee Experience & Engagement | Microsoft Viva
- Microsoft Viva Blog | Microsoft Tech Community
- External Sharing and Guest User Access in Microsoft 365 and Teams | AvePoint ebook
- Using and Tailoring Microsoft Teams for Your Organization | AvePoint ebook