After SharePoint Syntex was released last year, Microsoft’s Project Cortex is yielding another new product: Microsoft Viva. Basically, Microsoft Viva is an employee experience platform designed to make work processes smarter and more efficient, boosting employee connection and well-being. It makes use of rapidly expanding AI technologies like cognitive search and knowledge mining to efficiently bring relevant, connected information to those across the organization whenever they need it. The intended result is a work environment that puts people first and drives better business results.
Project Cortex: Microsoft Viva’s Predecessor
Last year Project Cortex debuted in preview, boasting new capabilities for knowledge organization and presentation within an organization. Once the preview stage ended in September, Microsoft planned to continue its broad range of features as separate innovations (each with its own name—so as much as we may like the moniker Project Cortex, we won’t be seeing it around much longer). Sharepoint Syntex, which uses AI to extract information and improve categorization, is one of these offsprings. An underlying goal with Sharepoint Syntex is to provide AI resources to a wider range of people, including those without expertise in the area who don’t do much coding. This is part of a broader goal of Microsoft’s in general and can be seen in other products, such as the Power Platform. Now the next big thing to emerge out of Project Cortex is Microsoft Viva, which consists of four different elements.
A balanced and fulfilling work life includes good organization, connection, continual learning, and attention to well-being. Microsoft Viva addresses all of these with its four modules:
If you’ve read about Project Cortex last year, you probably saw something called topics cards. These are informational pop-ups that appear in Microsoft applications to provide quick and easy knowledge access. They’re not just static tidbits, though—an AI system continually gathers various kinds of data to make sure the information is contextual and relevant to those accessing it. This is the first module to hit the market, generally available now.
This is sort of like a company social media site within an app like Teams. It brings together the features of Sharepoint, Yammer, and other Microsoft 365 apps into a single, personalized feed. Administrators can also post external content or news, with quite a bit of flexibility in who sees the posts and how they are presented. And it doesn’t stop there. Connections also gives employees a dashboard for managing tasks and finding resources. We can expect Viva Connections to be available in the first half of this year.
This part of Viva is a hub for finding and sharing educational content and resources. It connects to content libraries from Microsoft Learn, LinkedIn Learning, and other partners: Coursera, EdX, and Skillsoft—along with many others, and Microsoft still wants to integrate more. There’s even the option to create custom content. Leaders can recommend any of this content or assign it with deadlines. This will soon be in preview within Teams for a small number of customers and partners, and should become generally available later this year.
While all of Microsoft Viva is meant to make work life more efficient and rewarding, Insights is the part that really focuses on employee well-being. It combines the data capabilities of Microsoft Workplace Analytics and MyAnalytics in order to find workday patterns that might lead to employee burnout and offers solutions for improvement. This is meant to literally provide insight to managerial leaders on how their teams could be run in more employee-friendly ways, and it also gives the employees resources to aid in their mental health and work satisfaction. A few of these include workday wrap-ups & check-ins, recommendations for prioritizing well-being, and integration with the meditation app Headspace. Right now, Insights is available for managers and leaders with Workplace Analytics licenses, and it’s in public preview for Microsoft 365 users with Exchange Online.
How Much Does Microsoft Viva Cost?
The license for Microsoft Viva costs $5 a month per user. Certain Microsoft 365 and Sharepoint customers can also try it for free for a month.