MICROSOFT VIVA SUITE - A REVIEW
About the author: Jonathan Stuckey
As part of our current business investment at Spoke, and Microsoft's insistent push for adoption with customers, we have spent a lot of time looking into the suite of Viva modules.
What they offer, how they fit for business strategy, perceived value vs. marketing, dependency-trees and much more.
Review of Microsoft Viva suite and implication
In this series of articles, we undertake to provide users a summary of each of the core Viva modules, after doing deep-dive usage over months of application. Modules currently available include:
Viva Learnings (future article)
Viva Insights (future article)
Viva Topics (future article)
Recent additions are currently being assessed, and we'll update the article-series later for:
Viva brand and messaging
With Microsoft launch of "Viva" it has jumped head-first into marketing the suite as "employee experience and engagement" platform. The suite which blah blah blah - I'm sorry but this is so much marketechure at this point I can't carry on.
What Viva brand messaging points to is providing a point of differentiation and improvements for business users in an all-Microsoft world. What we see with the key messages for Viva vs. individual offerings in the suite is a missing cohesiveness of product and functionality.
Some of the messages are about business system integration and linking-up users access to core services e.g. CRM, surfacing other tools and data (Adaptive Cards in Connect). Other are bits are about bringing together content into MS Teams experience (and minimising the dependency on SharePoint content to pull from) - and still other bits appear tacked-on at the edges without much thought as to fit.
The key to Viva "unification" in the suite is it is (nearly) all based on the marketing & iconography designer and how to plug them into Microsoft Teams UX presentation tier.
All of the modules though are up for review and need assessing as to how employees are (potentially) going to use these things.
Viva application dependency-tree
A critical note for the technology stack is a dependency on Microsoft Teams for (nearly) all apps and modules. No Microsoft Teams deployment - no Microsoft Viva deployment.
Newer modules (Sales, Objectives) have critical dependency on the Dynamics 365 & PowerPlatform, which have significant costs associated both for technology licensing, and also in extended operations and support models necessary.
Viva module configuration
The shear separation of module capability illustrate the disparate nature of different module functions ranging from:
Employee health, to
Organisation community engagement to,
...make it glaringly obvious that these are actually quite separate products and functionality, without a unified production team for design and development principles and guidance yet.
Ok, never mind the functionality, or user-experience, let's take a look at the management and administration... some modules are managed via Service Configuration in Microsoft 365 Admin Centre of your tenancy, others in the client application configuration in Microsoft Teams administration UI, and still others have no real options yet but may do next year (read: Viva Pulse and Amplify).
So nope - no consistency, linkage or integration there either.
Microsoft's use of a vague branding message and a loosely associated use of colour and iconography in the marketing approach is the only nod to unified suite.
With Viva Microsoft is expanding the suite of offerings on Software-as-a-service subscription model from Office 365 (now called: Microsoft 365). Viva has the normal SaaS model for pricing based on modules (or historical products) i.e. minimum subscription period of 12-months, with pricing based on per-person per-month costs, but they are also using a combination of Freemium and bate-n-switch on pricing too.
Hidden costs include the intermate dependency on other Microsoft 365 products, which does mean several modules only provide value based how much you use your current investment in Business or Enterprise plan licensing (E-plans for preference).
As part of a recent offer (link) we were able to take this on with access to all components. Because we are small, the $ cost impact to us is relatively small, but when you look at scaling the cost of acquisition up to a customer at 1000, or 10,000 users, the relative pricing sky-rockets.
Table: comparison of Microsoft Viva RRP pricing based on Employee Experience Platform Plans and Pricing | Microsoft Viva - Sept. 2023
Module Pricing (pp/pm)
No add. Cost over M365
M365, Microsoft Teams
min. 100 users
1 Individual module pricing included. Bundle pricing $12USD pp/pcm, or about $19NZD. 2 Engage is the Yammer Community page functionality, re-branded and reduced in scope for Viva suite. It is included as "Freemium" component with Microsoft 365 E3 and above license plans 3 In order to get full-suite for discount pricing, need to procure through US site. NZ site limits the Viva modules available for same pricing - excluding Learnings and Topics modules.
Often fraught with unknows, and we want to be sure we are not being sold a 'pup' as they say. For the Viva modules there are many questions and the subsequent module assessment articles will set out to provide some answers to the basic questions that should be considered before embarking on a journey of discovery and adoption.
Key to think about are: access, ownership, service integration, user adoption, change management.. - some of the questions we've looked at when reviewing each of the modules. See related articles
The question that is in the back of my mind right now is where Microsoft Viva fits in the bigger context of Microsoft's next big idea for revenue generation (and selling you licenses): Premium Licenses, Copilot, Bing ECS etc?
How will Microsoft link in Microsoft Loop and Microsoft Syntex and other add-ons for the Microsoft 365 platform be made available, and what will the impact be of the new trend of Premium licensing and tiered dependency-trees for new features?
Well this is a much bigger topic than a single blog article, so I will leave off answer these and other questions for another time as we break-down each of the Viva modules.
if you have questions about the practical application of Viva modules and want to understand more about if or how these might fit into your intranet and Employee Experience strategy - give us a call.
About the author: Jonathan Stuckey