Microsoft Viva: Valo’s 7 Microsoft MVPs Give Their First Impressions & Reactions

Valo Microsoft MVP

Microsoft Viva’s goal and purpose is to tie together “engagement”, “learning”, “wellbeing” and “knowledge discovery”, directly into the flow of people’s work. This is designed to happen within the HUB for teamwork, Microsoft Teams. Our Microsoft MVPs have their own ideas on this new employee experience platform, so take a look at their reactions!

We have seen that today organizations spend over $300 billion a year on employee experience. No wonder that Microsoft has created or is packaging the already exiting services with the Viva brand, to open a new momentum to its partners and customers.

Microsoft Viva, just like the Modern SharePoint era, will attract lots of new companies into the Microsoft ecosystem, as this marks the beginning of a major new market: the EXP Era (employee experience era)!

But you may wonder why I said packaged? The Microsoft Viva offering comes with four artefacts and we already know “somehow” how they are working:

  • Connections = SharePoint Home Sites
  • Topics = SharePoint Syntex
  • Learning = Microsoft Stream + LXP
  • Insights = Workplace Analytics

My recommendation would be to be agile and enjoy the ride. Microsoft Viva is the platform of platforms. It doesn’t matter if you are a consumer, vendor, or partner: as long as you’re adding value on top of Microsoft’s innovation instead of competing against it, you’re on the good path.

But what do our other MVPs think of these announcements? Here are their thoughts:

What are your thoughts/first reactions to Microsoft Viva? How would you define Microsoft Viva?

Our Software Architect, Antti Koskela welcomes the news with open arms: “Finally! Why didn’t we have this a year ago?” and continues: “Viva is another step in Microsoft’s long crusade against silos, and a very promising one at that. It combines a lot of Microsoft’s existing (and some new) end-user workloads to surface them wherever the employees now are – largely, Microsoft Teams.”

One of our long-term Microsoft MVP’s Alexey Sadomov, says: “Viva is Microsoft’s adoption of the working process for the “new normal”. And I think there will be more such solutions in the near future – not only from Microsoft but also from other vendors.”

The world has changed with the pandemic and I think it won’t be the same after it. Software providers need to react to change and Viva is one of these reactions.

“Microsoft Viva is the way Microsoft is connecting the dots of their current offerings. It is not a revolution but rather an evolution of their current technology into a coherent ecosystem,” says Erwin van Hunen, our Lead Architect.

The leader of Valo Teamwork development, Jarbas Horst, says: “Employee experience plays a central role in the success of the business. I am happy that Microsoft developed Microsoft Viva to address EXP and I hope they will keep improving this platform.”

How will this impact your life? Your tools? Your job?

“It is becoming more and more complex to find information,” says Erwin and continues: “Search solves some things, but not everything. Viva will allow me to approach the data and documents offered to me and turn that into information.”

The Valo Teamwork Product Owner, Jarbas says that: “As a product owner of a solution that has been designed to simplify digital collaboration (Valo Teamwork), I am looking for the integration possibilities.”

Both he and Daniel Anderson, our APAC Partner Manager, are excited about the Viva Topics: “With the plethora of information and knowledge that exists inside organizations, employees spend (aka waste) so much time searching for or even re-creating content and information. Viva Topics will help organize content and expertise. I can see this saving not only my time but the entire organization. I am also curious as to what Connections actually offers; from initial information, I believe that Valo Connect offers so much more to the employee experience.”

Valo Connect brings your tools and team together
Many of Valo’s products already integrate into Microsoft Teams, which is why Valo Ideas Product Owner Vardhaman is happy about Microsoft Viva.

The Product Owner of Valo Ideas, Vardhaman Deshpande, says: “I am very excited that Microsoft has doubled down on Microsoft Teams as the home of your digital workplace. Being the Product Owner of Valo Ideas, the launch of Microsoft Viva validates our vision that betting on the Microsoft Teams platform to build our app was the right decision.” Antti also points out that: “obviously Connections has the potential to improve the usefulness of Microsoft Teams even more.”

Should developers, vendors, or partners fear the EXP era?

Erwin lays it down in a quite simple way: “Absolutely not. I’d rather say it is something that should be embraced. Microsoft is providing the infrastructure to make sense of data and documents, to make sense of all the knowledge in an organization. Developers, vendors, and partners can tap into that infrastructure and use it for their own benefit too.”

Apart from family and money, time is something that people value the most. The Microsoft 365 ecosystem provides so many tools to aid in giving people some time back that we really have all the building blocks to provide some amazing end-to-end solutions. We at Valo have a huge opportunity to look at how we can integrate with, build on top of or extend/fill the gaps of what Microsoft has started with Viva.

And all the other MVPs are on the same page: That Viva is something to be embraced, not feared! Antti Koskela says: “Only if they don’t think they can ship a better Employee Experience than Microsoft and do it faster. For the rest of us, this is another opportunity – the platform becoming better and more competitive benefits the whole ecosystem in the long run.”

How solid is the following statement: “Microsoft Viva is the platform of platforms?”

Erwin, Jarbas and Daniel agree that Microsoft Viva isn’t the platform of platforms, but still disagree on which is the ultimate one. Erwin and Jarbas are “more tempted to say that Microsoft 365 is the platform of platforms”, whereas Daniel leans more towards SharePoint. They all agree that: “Viva is pulling other platforms together” and “Viva is a view into that platform, a presentation layer of information”.

Elio “wouldn’t say that Viva is a platform, as Microsoft said it. It is an experience(s) and it is your choice to use it or not.” Vardhaman explains further that: “We have already got some details about the potential opportunities for partners and ISVs to extend the Microsoft Viva platform. The good news is that the tools and technologies we are already familiar with like SPFx, Microsoft Graph, Adaptive Cards would be the main building blocks.”

Is Microsoft Viva aimed at the HR Market?

Elio, Daniel and Antti all agree on how Insights and Workplace Analytics are useful for HR, but that’s it. Elio says: “if you need to put a department on it, it would be the ones responsible for internal communications.”

Antti believes: “Viva overall really does look more like function agnostic tool mainly for end-users and administrators.” Daniel says: “The knowledge management with Topics lends itself more to knowledge managers, project managers, sales and so on.”

Microsoft Viva is aimed to solve the challenges that are related to a remote work culture. Team leaders in general and  all employees can benefit from this new platform. However, a good HR strategy can include Microsoft Viva to improve the well-being as well as to develop the skills of employees.

Microsoft continues to view Microsoft Teams as the center of the digital workplace. How far can they go?

Microsoft Teams has developed a lot since it was launched. I can imagine that Microsoft will keep bringing content from different areas of MS365 into Microsoft Teams. So, Teams will become more and more the central hub for learning, innovation, collaboration, and communication in MS365.

However, there are still some issues our MVPs want to raise. For example, how the “personal app rail is going to become very busy very soon. I fear that this will lead to frustration and almost circle back to the “I can’t find this app”, “where do I go for this or that?”,” as Daniel puts it. Elio brings up the 2020 issues of Microsoft Teams when he says that: “They can go as far as they can keep Microsoft Teams stable, and this is getting a burden.”

Overall, “The Digital Workplace is here to stay, and Teams is going to play a pivotal part in Microsoft’s strategy. After all, it’s playing a central role in Microsoft’s response to organizations having transitioned to working remotely, and there’s still plenty of work to be done in bringing different workloads behind one pane of glass,” as Antti puts it, and me and the rest of the MVPs couldn’t agree more.


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