back to article Smells like Teams spirit: New platform Viva builds in all the tools Microsoft thinks staff need to succeed

Microsoft's latest take on employment engagement, Viva, is aimed at cheering those working remotely with only Office and Teams for company. The Windows giant has a chequered history when it comes to employee relations. While it may speak of a desire to "help employees grow and learn," misfires such as the vaguely creepy …

  1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

    "[T]he goal is to give employees a dashboard directing them to company resources in the absence of in-person events, gatherings or town-hall-style meetings."

    I've worked at two places in my main career track. Both have company intranet "portal" sites. The latter/current employer actually had two sites, one which was more like social media and built for sharing and the other for "standard" business resources, but they were recently merged and revamped to use Sharepoint to hold all the site files yet still provide blogging, following, etc.

    Surely a company's own staff should (but not always will) know what the employees need, especially if they are that engaged in the portal's design and structure, rather than trusting Micros~1?

    Then again, the former employer's site was a bit disjointed and not very helpful. Maybe watching people's trends of what assistance/resources they're looking for could help make the experience better. (My current employer already does all that tracking.)

    1. richardcox13

      Internal portals tend to be either created by one group to suit their immediate needs which are unlikely to meet even their needs in the future. Or defined my management based on their idea of what their staff want. This second option only beats the first by being unless for everyone.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Yes, I've yet to see an internal company portal which isn't irritating and rarely useful. Running a stock open-source web-crawling search engine against the internal network, and sitting a stock MediaWiki installation next to it, would provide a much better return on investment.

        Also, anything built on Sharepoint is automatically terrible. There have probably been worse technologies for organizing, storing, and retrieving information, but none come to mind. And I have a degree in that area.

  2. Steve Button Silver badge


    I read the whole thing. Some of the paragraphs I even read twice. I'm still none the wiser as to what any of this is all about? I had a big lunch, and a little sleepy, maybe it's just me?

    It's like Microsoft marketing wrote all the buzzword filled middle bit and the "author" wrote the first and last paragraphs.

    Can anyone explain to me, in English, what this is and if I might find it useful?

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: What!?

      I got as far as the neologism “collaboration minutes” and threw up a little in my mouth.

    2. tfewster

      Re: What!?

      ODFO, Microsoft. Some of us are here to do a job, not "engage", "network" or "career build".

      Intranets are already a thing. Usually crap, but putting MS polish on that turd won't help.

      As for a knowledge base - It's a shame our legal department recently instituted a policy to delete all emails older than 2 years, unless you had overcome the obstacles to archive the useful stuff. Lots of reference stuff gone there. But maybe they could index the contents of SharePoint ("Where information goes to die")?

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: What!?

      Can anyone explain to me, in English, what this is

      Viva Connections: Some kind of portal thing to direct you to corporate resources.

      Viva Insights: Spies on how you spend your time, and what you say about your job.

      Viva Learning: Some kind of portal thing to direct you to educational resources.

      Viva Topics: Spies on what you write, and retrieves stuff from the corporate network that it thinks might be related.

      and if I might find it useful?

      Well, you do you. I wouldn't find it useful. (And it's not like all of this hasn't already been available in many other forms for decades.)

    4. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Plain English

      I've added some extra context and a link to more info on it all by Microsoft if that helps. It's tools to manage (and monitor) work and non-work time, pool together internal documentation and training, and inject references to that corporate material into your chat conversations in some attempt to be more helpful.

      Personally, this looks like Microsoft trying to add tools to make up for the fact that we can't bump into colleagues in the corridor anymore (due to the pandemic) or catch someone after a meeting or at lunch or while getting a coffee and ask a question and get an immediate answer or feedback. Asking on instant chat or email feels like you're bugging someone rather than taking advantage of a spontaneous encounter.

      So instead, you, I dunno, bump into Teams and get it to answer your Qs without bothering anyone or waiting for them to reply. If possible. Also, you might see notices and posters up in the office about stuff you need to know, which you can't do if you're stuck at home all the time, so these tools fill in that gap online.

      Something like that. This isn't an endorsement of it.


  3. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Tried Insights.

    Disabled it. I am perfectly capable of arranging my own work day and work load. I do not need an AI to do it for me.

    My company have decided to focus on teams, only allowing things like Zoom where outside companies require it. This was done primarily for security (our team only have one messaging service to test the clients for), but has the added advantage of not adding stuff for the users to check.

    That's not saying that they haven't added stuff seemingly for the sake of it. We've had our own internal portal website for years. It links to nearly every system the company uses, and is both comprehensive and actually well laid out. When we introduced Office 365, we introduced Yammer. While Yammer did briefly replace the portal, with various departments publishing updates, ultimately it became just something else to check.. I haven't checked it in weeks, and stopped updating it when I posted an important warning about something and not one member of the team who had access to the channel on Yammer read it. I just wondered why I shouldn't have just emailed them rather than post on Yammer when I ended up having to email them *anyway*.

    I know that Insight is supposed to help manage extra things like this, but it reminds me of Douglas Adams's description of a video recorder as a device designed to watch boring television when the owner couldn't be bothered to watch it. I just think if you need a system to help you monitor all the systems people can use to get in touch with you, you've probably got too many systems that people can use to get in touch with you. I think if Microsoft want to help with this, they need to work to ensure that (say) someone on Teams can easily call someone on Zoom, and vice versa. Not going to happen though.

  4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Everything, eh?

    "Viva brings together everything an employee needs to be successful ..."

    Wow. It includes technical knowledge and practical experience? It provides well-defined requirements for every task and appropriate, properly-functioning tools? It removes bureaucratic obstacles? It addresses issues of worker capacity? Of physical and mental health? That is impressive.

    Good to see the Microsoft marketing team isn't running low on their supply of absurd puffery.

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