6 ways in which Microsoft Viva is evolving to support employee experience

April 24, 2024 by

In the three years since Microsoft first launched its Viva employee experience platform, this has continued to evolve and expand. In that time, it has provoked huge interest from digital workplace teams, HR functions, comms professionals and IT departments, with a view to using Viva to drive engagement, support productivity, increase learning, and more.

We recently updated our DWG member research report, Viva, Teams or SharePoint: Understanding how they fit together, to take into account some of the recent changes to Viva, also adding some observations about the direction Microsoft Viva is taking. Although the full report is available to DWG members only, you can download an Executive Summary.

In this post we’re going to cover some of the ways in which Microsoft Viva is evolving to support employee experience.

Microsoft Viva and its expanding series of apps

Microsoft Viva was originally announced in early 2021, initially consisting of four apps (Connections, Insights and Learning) that in truth had little integration. Since then, Microsoft Visa has evolved and expanded, now offering a total of nine apps and a number of distinct services which ripple through to more than one app. These include:

  • Viva Connections: a personalized overview of news, conversations and tools.
  • Viva Learning: access to relevant learning resources directly in the flow of work.
  • Viva Insights: wellbeing and productivity analytics, and related insights for individuals, managers and organizations.
  • Viva Goals: objectives and key results (OKR) software resulting from Microsoft’s acquisition of Ally.io.
  • Viva Engage: social collaboration and communities through a rebrand of Yammer.
  • Viva Amplify: a hub for internal communicators to plan, create and analyse their communications and campaigns.
  • Viva Glint: an integration of the Glint enterprise-wide employee survey and feedback tool.
  • Viva Pulse: a survey and feedback tool for managers and their teams.
  • Answers in Viva: social Q&A capability backed up by AI.
  • People in Viva: ability to view an interactive organizational chart.
  • Skills in Viva: ability to map skills across an organization and within profiles.
  • Copilot in Viva: generative AI capabilities applied through different Viva suites.

6 ways in which Microsoft Viva is evolving

Microsoft Viva is always expanding and evolving. Here are some of the main directions of travel.

1. There is more support for professional communicators

Microsoft Viva aims to support employee engagement, an area of interest to both HR and communications teams. Up until now there has been less explicit support for internal communications teams but that has all changed with the launch of Viva Amplify as well as the introduction of some new features within Viva Engage (formerly Yammer).

Viva Amplify is an app that seeks to help communicators and leaders to “plan, create and analyze communications in a single hub”, with the ability to create content via an editing experience and then push it to multiple channels including SharePoint, Teams, Outlook, Viva Engage and Viva Connections. They can also create and monitor campaigns, with the requisite analytics available.

Several other recent or new features in Viva Engage are also supporting employee and leader communications, including:

  • the ability to add longer-form content via announcements and articles
  • ‘Storylines’ that allow people to follow posts from individuals, including senior leaders
  • a new Leadership Corner feature, which provides an area where staff can engage with leaders to see their posts and even ‘Ask Me Anything’ events.

Collectively, these features ensure that Viva will be of more interest to professional communicators, particularly in supporting messaging from senior leaders.

2. Copilot is coming to the Viva suite

We have now reached the era of generative AI and 2024 will see many digital workplace teams rolling out AI products, establishing governance, supporting employees, and more. Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI and is threading generative AI through many of its products, usually under the ‘Copilot’ brand. At its annual Microsoft Ignite conference in November 2023, an avalanche of product roadmap updates was announced, many of which relate to Copilot, including several updates to Microsoft Viva.

In the report, we cover several Copilot flavours relating to different Viva apps that are set to drop, including Viva Engage, Insights, Goals, Learning and Glint. These offer various capabilities that leverage the power of AI, especially the use of natural language prompts, for example to generate reports in Viva Insights. There are also capabilities to draft content and provide intelligent suggestions for improvement, for example in Viva Engage.

In addition, there’s a Microsoft Copilot dashboard that is ‘powered by Viva’, and Copilot for Microsoft 365, which is ‘enhanced with Viva’. A previously offered Viva app – Viva Sales – which provided some AI services aimed at people involved in sales and business development has actually been fully rebranded as a a Copilot service. We can expect further Copilot for Microsoft Viva developments through the year.

3. There is continuing integration between Viva modules

When Microsoft Viva was first launched it was positioned as a platform. However, in truth, there was very little integration between the first four modules, so it could be argued it was more like a collection of discrete apps. Fast forward to 2024 and there has been significant progress in integrating the various Viva apps, and integration will continue to increase.

Cross-suite capabilities, including People In Viva and Skills in Viva, apply to more than one app, and within separate apps there is increasing ability to interact with other apps. For example, Viva Amplify allows you to publish to Viva Engage, while in Viva Engage you can view Viva Goals progress. Moreover, as part of Viva Connections there is a new landing page that, by default, also includes more prominent links to each Viva app. Different Viva modules also appear within the fabled Microsoft 365 waffle menu.   

4. There is continuing integration with other digital workplace apps too

Microsoft Viva is designed to support employee experience by also integrating with other non-Viva applications across the digital workplace, not only from Microsoft 365 but also with popular non-Microsoft enterprise tools, such as ServiceNow or Cornerstone. This is happening in a number of different ways:

  • Though integration with other 365 apps, including SharePoint and Outlook, helping the Viva brand and experience to go beyond Microsoft Teams. For example, the Connections Dashboard can be viewed within SharePoint via a dedicated web part.
  • Through building up the number of connectors with non-Microsoft technologies across individual apps – for example, Viva Learning can integrate with a number of learning management solutions (LMS).
  • Through individual features, such as the ability to add specific cards to the Viva Connections dashboard that provide links or simple integrations with other systems.

We can expect Viva to continue to expand its ability to integrate with and act as a window to the wider digital workplace.

5. There is a widening chasm between paid and free elements

One of the more notable characteristics of recent product announcements surrounding Viva is a widening gap between the elements of Viva that come bundled ‘free’ as part of most 365 E3 and E5 subscriptions and the elements that require an additional licence. For example, in the past, Viva Engage has been included as part of 365; this is still the case but there are now a number of ‘premium’ features, including Leadership Corner, which have to be paid for. Other modules that primarily come at a cost, such as Viva Learning, also have some basic free elements that are integrated into 365. This trend of ‘premium features’ mirrors other product developments, such as the emergence of a number of premium offerings in Teams.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has also launched some additional licences for the Viva suite, including one focusing on employee communications and communities (Connections, Engage, Amplify) and one for workplace feedback and analytics (Insights, Glint, Pulse).

6. Microsoft is still investing but the pace may have slowed

Microsoft has a pattern of heavily investing in its products to drive improvements and add features. Over the past three years the pace of change in the Viva suite has been relatively relentless with new apps, the latest of which was Amplify.

While enhancements and features will continue, especially with the introduction of Copilot into multiple Viva modules, we can perhaps expect the pace of change across Viva to slow a little. For the first time in a long while there is no new Viva module on the horizon, and Microsoft’s attention seems to have turned to the Copilot brand. Since the report was published, Microsoft has also taken many by surprise by announcing the retirement of Viva Topics.


Download the executive summary

Categorised in: Digital employee experience, Microsoft 365, Research reports

Steve Bynghall

Steve Bynghall is a freelance consultant, researcher and writer specializing in the digital workplace, intranets, knowledge management, collaboration and other digital themes. He is DWG’s Research and Knowledge Lead, a benchmark evaluator and research analyst for DWG.

Don't journey alone

Why choose DWG?

Learn more about DWG and our history, and the benefits of working with us.

Read More
Your digital journey starts here

Book a free one-to-one consultation to discuss the current status of your digital workplace. Each consultation is followed up with a bundle of useful resources to help get you started.

Book your consultation