Microsoft Viva: A Plain Speaking Overview

This blog post accompanies the session delivered at Collabdays Lisbon on 13th November 2021.


  • What is Viva & how does it fit with what we already have?
  • Licensing the Viva tools
  • Getting Started – Deploying the Viva tools
  • Recent Updates Announced

What is Viva

Microsoft launched Viva as a product to enhance the employee experience, but what does that actually mean without the marketing speak? In overview, Viva is a brand name that pulls together tools whose aim is to make it easier to be productive and maximise the investments we have already made in Microsoft 365, delivery in the tools we use everyday, primarily Teams.  The aim is that pulling together the apps, content & communication you reduce the amount of jumping between applications needed to do the job.

Each Viva module does have its own focus and is based upon existing or previously announced features, with the normal feature development and continuous change that is part of the cloud.

The Microsoft Viva platform is made up of 4 modules (currently)

Viva Connections bring the SharePoint intranet into Teams and makes it accessible to mobile users too. It also surfaces Yammer content and can be extended to help provide access to custom tools as as well as standard tools such as Approvals & Shifts. The key word there was Amplify. Connections makes it easier to interact with the (SharePoint Online) intranet you already have.

Viva Insights builds on the analytics and reminders that My Analytics and Cortana emails were already bringing us. But with additional features to help balance work/life and productivity. For me, I find the some features more useful than others. I personally use love the Stay Connected reminders about tasks/requests I may have missed.

Viva Topics is about making the most of the information stored in Microsoft 365. Capturing the knowledge locked away in all those documents and making it useful, but letting the AI do the heavy lifting.

Viva Learning is aiming to bring continuous learning into the daily flow of work. If you work with the cloud you are familiar with continuous change and continuous learning, Most workers struggle with this and how to even find the learning opportunities and that is where Viva Learning comes in.

How does Viva integrate with Microsoft 365?

Microsoft Viva tools are built on the email, appointments, chat, meetings and files already in Microsoft 365 and integrate with those tools. With Topics & Insights there are some integrations which are not yet rolled out, such as being able to see topic cards from message and document content and delay chat message based on recipients working hours, but these are on the way.

Does this replace SharePoint?

First, let’s be clear, all Microsoft 365 file storage is based on SharePoint which turned 20 this year (27th March 2021) – see SharePoint twenty 20 years young SharePoint’s twentieth birthday 20th ( So no, this does not replace SharePoint, though it may mean your users spend less time navigating to SharePoint pages in their browser and use Viva Connections instead.

Viva Insights


The virtual commute feature helps close out the working day. Personally I find it a bit much every day, but on busy days it is helpful.

Stay Connected is the same information as the Cortana daily email and My Analytics Trend pane (both now rebranded Microsoft Viva).

Protect time allows you to book focus time to avoid your colleagues filling your diary.

Getting Started

For the free version of Viva Insights, simply turn on the features from the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. In choose Settings then Org Settings followed by Services and Microsoft Viva Insights (formerly My Analytics). Tick on the required features and click Save.

For details on setting up Viva Insights per user plan see

With Workplace Analytics or an Add-on License

Adding a license for Viva Insights bring in the Workplace Analytics features. I’ll be posting a blog on the set up experience separately to this one detailing onboarding with Viva Insights per user licenses. With the per user license you add extra features.

For more inform on the license differences see also for license comparison.

For larger organizations and to allow for customized analytics & reporting there is also a per organisation Microsoft Viva Insights Capacity license

The My Team insights page:

The My Org insights page:

Viva Connections


Connections bring your SharePoint based Intranet into Teams and with use of the SharePoint Global Nav Bar, can bring the whole of your SharePoint into Teams and simplify the navigation process for users.  With the use of the cards you can bring other apps and tools into Teams too, such as tasks, holiday booking apps, etc, etc.

Getting Started

To implement Viva Connections you need to:

  1. Have an intranet in SharePoint
  2. Make your Intranet site the “Home Site” Set a site as your home site – SharePoint in Microsoft 365 | Microsoft Docs
  3. Set up SharePoint Global Navigation Use the new SharePoint app bar and set up global navigation – SharePoint in Microsoft 365 | Microsoft Docs
  4. Deploy the Viva Connections App into Teams for your users  (via Teams Admin Center)

What you get out of Viva Connections depends upon the use made of SharePoint intranet and Yammer.  To bring Yammer into Viva Connections we use the Viva Connections Feed or Yammer web parts on your SharePoint Home Site. For details on creating a Home Site for use with Viva Connections see this article.

Getting More from Viva Connections

To get the most from Viva Connections you should

  1. Add a dashboard as that’s where your mobile users land. Include at least a website card pointing to the intranet here.
  2. Add the Dashboard webpart to your Home Site, so desktop users get the advantage of the dashboard cards too.
  3. Add the Viva Connections feed web part to your home site to bring News and Yammer Conversations in. This could replace the News webpart.
  4. Consider mobile users. Always check the mobile experience and make sure your mobile only users have easy access to the required tools.

Viva Topics

Topics itself is not very exciting looking a site. But that’s NOT the main benefit. Topics is there to help your organisation make more of the knowledge trapped inside your Microsoft 365 environment.

Viva Topics is not suitable for all organisations, there is a minimum amount of data and activity that you need before it can work as designed. However any organisation that meets these can benefit. My tenant has one main user (though 5 in total) and topics is still benefiting me, saving me a lot of searching and rewriting. This will only improve with the items on the roadmap (such as managed metadata integration plus messaging & content links to topics).

Getting Started

Deployed from the M365 Admin Center – see

Very simple to set up, but it does take 3 days to 2 weeks before topics really start to appear. You then need to review and publish your topics before the links in content start to work. Currently only SharePoint pages will surface the topic links, so be sure to test there first.

Viva Learning


Viva Learning is all about collaborative learning, it isn’t a LMS, but many of the tools that can surface learning their learning materials via Viva Learning have their own LMS built in.

With the free license you only get integration with

  • Microsoft Learn
  • LinkedIn Learning Free or Enterprise Subscriptions
  • Microsoft 365 Training
  • Your Own SharePoint based Content

Currently the paid license adds (with * indicating some content shown without subscription to that service):

  • Cornerstone OnDemand
  • Coursera *
  • edX *
  • Go1
  • Infosec *
  • Josh Bersin Academy *
  • Pluralsight *
  • Saba Cloud
  • Skillsoft
  • SAP SucessFactors
  • Udemy

Get Started

For Admins see Here comes Viva Learning – The Teams Queen Blog

For users see First Steps Using Viva Learning – The Teams Queen Blog


Some of the features of each module are included in Microsoft 365 licenses, except Viva Topics. You can license the modules separately or (announced at Ignite on 2nd November 2021) via a suite license. Currently the suite license is discounted from £12 to £6.80.

All prices quoted are UK cloud direct pricing. Please check with your licensing organisation for exact pricing.

Coming Soon

All Viva module updates are detailed on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap. This link directs you to the roadmap filtered for only Microsoft Viva updates.

One thing that is missing is the Viva Topics App in Teams, which keeps showing up in many marketing images, hopefully that will come when Teams supports showing topics cards from messaging content.

Another key announcement from Ignite which was trailed when the deal to purchase was signed is that Ally will be the 5th Viva module.

Ally is a Targets and Goal management tool to help align organisation objectives & mission with individuals targets and key performance indicators. See announcement of purchase for more info on the tool.


Employee Experience Platform Overview | Microsoft Viva

Viva Insights app – Overview | Microsoft Docs

Microsoft Viva Topics overview | Microsoft Docs

Microsoft Viva – Microsoft Tech Community

Microsoft Viva Connections to start rollout to general availability – Microsoft Tech Community

Announcing Viva Learning public preview coming in April – Microsoft Tech Community

Viva on the M365 Roadmap

Viva Topics on Learn

Thank You’s

No conference, virtual or in-person happens without sponsorship, so thank you to the Collabdays Lisbon 2021 Sponsors!

And the organizers too. It was a great pleasure to be selected to speak at your event. Maybe next time I’ll even get to come to Lisbon!

Published by sfennah

I am a freelance learning professional with over 22 years’ experience including holding 30+ Microsoft certifications and Microsoft Certified Trainer status since 2008.

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