Microsoft Viva: Teams Expanded to Include Employee Experience Platform

Cloud First. Mobile First. Teams First. First thoughts on Microsoft Viva.

Microsoft presented its new Employee Experience platform called “Microsoft Viva” as part of the "Reimagine the Employee Experience" digital event. The development is very much centered on the challenges and lessons learned from the COVID pandemic such as resilience, inclusion of front line workers, the importance of corporate culture, leadership and communication. As a long-standing and close Microsoft partner, Campana & Schott has supported the new development. The key aspects are summarized below.

Teams first

Microsoft Teams has become the central tool for many employees—also driven by the COVID pandemic: Speedy coordination via video call and chat has become part of day-to-day life in the age of home offices. This is impressively confirmed by the user numbers: Within a year, the number of daily active users of Teams increased from 20 million to 115 million (as of October 2020), almost a six-fold increase. 

From statements such as the one made by Microsoft CVP Jeff Teper who said that “Teams will be even bigger than Windows”, we were able to gather last year already that Microsoft is dreaming big when it comes to the future of Teams. With the recent announcement by SAP and Microsoft to integrate Teams into SAP solutions, the vision of Teams as a central user interface is already taking shape.

Another milestone has been reached with Microsoft Employee Experience, which has now been introduced, showing that Microsoft is systematically placing employees at the center: Through four native applications in Teams – Viva Connections (a), Viva Insights (b), Viva Topics (c) as well as Viva Learning (d) – key organizational issues around a) corporate culture, communication and collaboration, b) leadership, productivity and employee satisfaction and health, c) knowledge and expertise, and d) employee training and development can be specifically supported using cutting-edge technology. Implementing Teams as a user interface ensures that this support can be provided to all members of the workforce—i.e. information workers who have their own desktop workstation as well as front line workers who don’t have it.

Viva Connections

Teams as a central workforce app

Current studies show that, with increasing working from home, employees feel less connected to their teams and also disconnected from the flow of information. Similarly, aligning their organization, almost entirely virtually, with a common strategy, goals, and priorities presents a new challenge for leaders.

Viva Connections, the central Employee Experience portal in Teams, enables managers and corporate communications to deliver target group-specific information and trigger virtual interaction. Employees are provided with personalized content that is relevant to them—even when working from home, in the factory or in the store—and are given the opportunity to play an active role in the company. Collaboration and corporate culture can thus also be experienced virtually.

Technologically, the native Teams app leverages Graph API and merges proven services like SharePoint Online and Yammer into a new user interface. This ensures that current investments in services and content remain usable also in the future.

Viva Insights

Fact-based improvement of health and leadership

In addition to offering many benefits, the virtualization of collaboration also poses health risks. For example: Workdays are less structured, stretch out over a longer period of time due to homeschooling or other parallel tasks, and employees' cognitive load often increases. It is therefore not surprising that a recent study by Qualtrics concluded that 70 percent of employees report higher stress levels. 

In Teams, Viva Insights provides employees with vital insights and personalized advice to identify and develop behaviors that are conducive to their health and productivity. Managers have a major influence on the productivity of their teams and the well-being of their staff, even in the virtual world. Viva Insights shows them their behavioral patterns and provides tangible advice on how to improve. This might be something like regular, virtual one-on-one discussions with their staff or refraining from sending emails outside of working hours.

Technologically, Viva Insights brings together and complements existing services such as MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics, making working and collaborating data-driven or data-supported. Data privacy and security are ensured via the M365 platform function, anonymization and aggregation.

Viva Topics

Integrating relevant information into the work process

The flood of information has continued to increase in recent years, and known problems have thus been further amplified: Employees still spend up to an hour a day searching for relevant information and experts.

Viva Topics provides customized, relevant information for each employee in the context of their current tasks and directly in Teams. The technology is implemented using AI-based content services, which have already been developed and successively expanded as part of Project Cortex. They identify, process and organize the content of an organization in the background, whereby experts have the opportunity to intervene in the process as curators.

Viva Learning

Virtual learning, anytime, anywhere 

Studies have shown that many CEOs see the lack of relevant skills within their workforce as a major obstacle to growth. The range of continuing education programs and, in particular, the types of continuing education have increased significantly over the past ten years: Companies are increasingly offering their workforce own content and formats, universities and continuing education providers have often digitized their offerings, and learning platforms are available.

Viva Learning enables organizations and executives to define target group- and employee-specific training paths and to allocate own as well as third-party content. Options in this area range from own PowerPoint slides, documents and videos, to free and paid content such as from Microsoft Learn or third-party providers, to the integration of entire learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning. Training measures are agreed, monitored and carried out directly in Teams.


The current pandemic serves as a digitalization time machine for many organizations. Digitization shortcomings built up over years, in some cases over decades, now need to be resolved in the short term. This primarily concerns technologies, but increasingly also organizational issues: What is the right balance between efficiency and resilience for my business and organization? Is my corporate culture still adequate for a digital world? Do my managers and staff have the necessary mindset and skills to actively shape change and succeed in a rapidly changing world? Do I offer my workforce an environment in which they can work in a motivated and healthy manner to achieve the common goal?

Technology does not provide the answers to these questions and will always remain a means to an end. However, technology, when used properly, offers great leverage to overcome the challenges outlined above. Microsoft Viva provides another set of tools. Embedded in and based on the proven M365 platform—and with Teams as an established user interface that is already being used by more than 115 million people every day.

In this regard, we recommend organizations to start with a review of their own digital collaboration maturity level, taking into account both organizational and IT aspects, and, from there, take a deliberate, step-by-step approach. In terms of M365 and the Microsoft Employee Experience, this means specifically:

  • Start with basic collaboration and information workers and combine the technical roll-out with a deliberate and desirable change in the way people are working together. Viva Connections and Viva Learning are modules of the new Microsoft Employee Experience Platform and can be a helpful additions in this respect.
  • Take full advantage of the M365 platform's advanced security technologies: A high level of security can only be achieved by taking a holistic view of information/data, identities, end devices and access. Using artificial intelligence for hazard prevention will not only be the norm in the future, but also contribute significantly to the protection of intellectual property. It is already available today in the M365 platform.
  • Extend the coverage to your entire workforce, i.e. include front line workers. The demand—even for basic communication and collaboration is high—and if a company fails to supply technology, “shadow IT” will flourish and so will the corresponding risks.
  • With increasing technological and organizational maturity, central business processes and legacy systems can be integrated. Viva Topics from the Microsoft Employee Experience Platform is now able to unleash the full potential of your workforce. Your staff and managers are ready to question and adapt their behavioral patterns via Viva Insights.


The Microsoft Employee Experience Platform Viva mainly uses existing services, packaging them as a separate app in Teams. As a first of its kind, it is a strong indicator of future developments. We therefore venture the following hypotheses:

  • The central user interface in organizations will increasingly shift from the web browser to Microsoft Teams.
  • Communication and collaboration will be followed by the integration of business processes. Primarily, existing applications will be integrated. Missing application logic or data may be added in small applications—for example, based on PowerPlatform or Azure.
  • The integration of business processes will also strongly drive the expansion of the user base to include front line workers. This has proven to unleash great productivity potentials.
  • Artificial intelligence will increasingly be demystified and automate administrative tasks in the background of applications, enabling managers and employees to take better, data-driven decisions.