Keeping up with Microsoft Viva: Why 2023 will be the year that Viva enters the digital workplace

March 8, 2023 Updated: April 4, 2023 by

Microsoft Viva, the employee engagement platform that Microsoft launched in early 2021, continues to attract a great deal of interest from digital workplace teams, intranet professionals, HR functions and internal communicators. Yet, up to now, it is perhaps still not that well known to end users as a platform they use every day.  

However, in 2023, that looks set to change. Microsoft has already invested heavily in the platform, producing new apps, features and capabilities, and the Microsoft Viva roadmap for 2023 is showing no signs of slowing. We can expect 2023 to be the year that Viva will fully enter the digital workplace, with more and more teams launching apps and driving adoption.  

Reflecting the high degree of interest in Microsoft Viva, and the eyebrow-raising pace of change in the platform, we recently issued a new version of our DWG research report Viva, Teams or SharePoint: Understanding how they fit together, which covers the multiple updates to Microsoft Viva. The full report is only available to DWG members, but if your organization is not a member, you can download the Executive Summary for free.  

Even though we only published this in January, there have since been yet more announcements. It is hard to keep up with the sheer pace of change! In this post we’re going to cover some of the most important recent(ish) Microsoft Viva updates of which digital workplace and intranet teams should be aware. 

What is Microsoft Viva?

Microsoft Viva is an employee engagement platform chiefly experienced through a series of apps for Microsoft Teams, although elements of these are also being experienced through Outlook, SharePoint and other Microsoft tools.  

Microsoft Viva initially started with four apps – Viva Connections, Viva Learning, Viva Insights and Viva Topics, with a further app (Viva Goals) announced. Since launch, Viva has continued to expand and there are now a number of new apps that are either live, in preview or still to be launched. These include Viva Sales, Viva Engage, Viva Pulse and Viva Amplify, with additional capabilities such as People in Viva. We cover some of these newer apps below. 

Recent updates to Viva

The pace of change relating to Microsoft Viva seems to have accelerated in the past few months. Here are some of the most recent updates. 

1. Yammer is rebranding to Microsoft Viva Engage

If you have a M365-powered digital workplace, you will likely know that Yammer is now being rebranded as Microsoft Viva Engage, and will officially be part of the Viva suite. This change will be happening through 2023. Apart from the name switch, the platform remains the same, with no change to licensing. This follows on from the earlier rebrand of the Yammer Communities Teams app to Viva Engage, a move that sparked some confusion in the marketplace, with effectively two separate names for the same platform running in parallel.  

Rebranding the whole of Yammer makes sense and now means it is easier for digital workplace teams to explain the change to their stakeholders and end users. It also confirms the longer-term future of Yammer, as Microsoft continues to invest right across the Viva suite. We think this move will help make the Viva brand more visible through the wider digital workplace; it potentially also makes it easier for Microsoft to position some future features in Viva Engage as premium, paid-for elements, which is standard across the different Viva apps. 

2. New Viva Engage features support leadership communications

Viva Engage comes with a new set of features that better support leadership communications. Some of these are already available; for instance, Storylines gives the ability for individuals to issue posts that others follow, a scenario that is well-suited to senior leaders and management wishing to issue more social and informal updates.  

Another key feature on the Viva Engage roadmap is ‘Leadership Corner’, a new place for employees to engage with leaders in ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions as well as rolling up any Storylines. This section is personalized so, for example,  a person from a particular division can view relevant updates from their divisional leadership. 

3. There is a new homepage experience for Viva Connections

To date, Viva Connections has been one of the main Viva apps of interest to intranet teams and internal communicators. This is partly because it is one of those that is bundled free within Microsoft 365 licensing, but also because it is a way to experience a SharePoint intranet or SharePoint content within Teams. Two other features – the Viva Connections dashboard and Viva Connections feed – can also be integrated as web parts on a SharePoint intranet homepage.  

Microsoft has now announced a new default homepage experience for Viva Connections that incorporates elements of the feed and dashboard, as well as a hero area. There is also an attempt to make the Viva Connections homepage more of an overall home for the Viva suite, with links to other Viva apps, as well as increased options to introduce custom branding to reflect corporate needs.   

4. More capabilities are coming to Microsoft Learning 

Viva Learning is perhaps one of the Viva apps that has had less attention so far but does have the power to bring learning and access to course material into the centre of the digital workplace and Microsoft Teams; it achieves this by making learning content more visible and easier to find, particularly when it is scattered across multiple sources. However, Viva Learning is not a learning management system (LMS) and arguably has most value when combined with an LMS. 

A set of new features within Viva Learning is widening its capabilities and increasing its value. These include: 

  • the ability to create ‘learning paths’ that group different courses together from various sources 
  • allowing individual users to create personal collections of learning content 
  • adding permissions to learning content so that people can only see what they are entitled to  
  • enhancements to the Viva Learning mobile app 
  • and more! 

5. Viva Amplify is on its way

Viva Amplify is a brand-new app that was initially announced by Microsoft in September 2022 although there have been a few updates since then. Viva Amplify aims to support internal communicators and those involved in leadership communications by helping them to write, plan and coordinate content. It is set to include several features such as: 

  • an editing suite to produce communications-led content 
  • the option to use AI for writing guidance  
  • the ability to push content to multiple different channels including email, SharePoint intranet, Teams, mobile app and even non-Microsoft tools 
  • help with managing the approval workflow for comms-led content 
  • support for the creation, management and reporting of campaigns 
  • plus more. 

We think Viva Amplify will be of great interest to communicators. Interestingly, Viva Amplify was announced prior to all the developments around ChatGPT-3, and – although this is purely our speculation – we wonder if some of the power of ChatGPT will be integrated into Viva Amplify; for example, to support content generation.  

6. Viva Pulse and Glint support ongoing feedback

Another of the new Viva apps to be announced is Viva Pulse, a tool designed to help managers and team leaders collect ongoing feedback from team members about different topics. This feels like a feedback and survey tool that will help efforts around engagement, learning and wellbeing, and also complement other Viva apps, such as Viva Insights and Learning. Pulse comes with helpful tools such as smart templates, standard questions and the ability to provide aggregated analytics that can also overcome issues around GDPR.  

Viva Pulse is distinct from Glint, which is an enterprise-wide employee feedback tool that Microsoft has previously bundled in with Microsoft Viva licences and has also stated will eventually be more fully integrated into Viva. Glint is positioned as being more for measuring engagement at the organizational level, with Pulse being more about supporting teams; however, we feel there is still the potential for confusion about the differences between the two.  

7. Viva Sales is a new role-based app

One of the new Viva apps that launched last year is Viva Sales, an app aimed at those involved in sales and business development. This helps to bring data from a customer relationship management (CRM) system, such as Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce, into Outlook or Microsoft Teams, whilst also using AI to keep CRM data up to date or add new contacts in order to reduce manual data entry. It also uses AI to provide insights into sales conversations, as well as facilitate collaboration around different sales opportunities.  

Viva Sales is slightly different to all the other apps in the Viva suite in that it is role-based, rather than being aimed at all employees. In the original announcement, Microsoft hinted that other role-based Viva apps might follow so it is possible we may see another announced at some point.  

8. Answers and People in Viva bring common capabilities

To date, most of the features and capabilities in Microsoft Viva have been delivered in distinct apps, although increasingly there has been some integration between them. However, in 2023, we’re starting to see the launch of different Viva capabilities that can be accessed across various Viva apps, indicating a more integrated direction of travel for the Viva platform. 

One of these new capabilities is ‘Answers in Viva’, a ‘Q&A’ feature that allows users to ask questions that are then answered by experts who have been identified by AI, as well as to review previous answers. These answers can then build up over time to provide a knowledge base across different topics. Answers in Viva is a useful capability sometimes found in SharePoint intranets or in social collaboration platforms, and it will be available through both Viva Engage and Viva Topics. 

The other new capability is ‘People in Viva’, which is effectively a feature that allows you to explore the org chart or find experts through Microsoft 365 profiles. This capability is clearly designed to facilitate connections and we imagine it will be accessible where people profiles appear in other Viva apps.  

Related resource

Viva, Teams or SharePoint: Understanding how they fit together
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Categorised in: Artificial intelligence and automation, Collaboration, Digital workplace, Intranets, 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.

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