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At the start of 2022, Microsoft released its new employee experience platform: Microsoft Viva.

It was an exciting move at a time when digital engagement in the workplace is at an all-time high, yet many organisations are still grappling with challenges surrounding employee engagement, productivity, inclusivity and culture.

The platform is designed to address all of these, and was initially built around 4 key features (and growing) that are intrinsically linked to proven ways of enhancing the employee experience:

  1. Viva Connections – communication and inclusion
  2. Viva Learning – learning and development
  3. Viva Insights – productivity and wellbeing
  4. Viva Topics – knowledge sharing and value-add

While all of these features carry widespread benefits for employers and their employees, Viva Topics is particularly useful in solving a serious issue that many organisations are facing right now: knowledge retention and management.

With so many qualified workers retiring, and just as many changing jobs amidst the “Great Resignation”, employers are at a high risk of losing vital expertise that is needed to effectively run their business.

For large organisations, mitigating this risk has traditionally been the responsibility of appointed knowledge managers who spend their days capturing information and making it available to those who need it. This is no easy task, and in today’s age of big data it’s certainly not as straight-forward as it was in the past.

Useful information lies in documents within folders that no one would ever think to check, or in emails or Teams conversations that have long been forgotten. The organisation itself may also lack a knowledge sharing culture, causing subject matter experts to keep valuable knowledge in their heads while new starters and even existing staff struggle to make sense of the work and workplace around them.

How Viva Topics works

Viva Topics is an extension of Office 365 and operates inside Microsoft Teams and SharePoint as a familiar place where employees go to communicate and collaborate.

The app uses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to source and curate knowledge that lives within a business’s Microsoft 365 environment. You can set parameters on where it’s allowed to search, as well as who it must notify to decide if information is relevant and can be shared.  

Knowledge managers are able to define specific topics, and the AI will actively search for any and all information that aligns with them – mapping relationships between topics in the process.

Subject matter experts can also be invited to share their expertise through blog posts that sit within a topic. For example, you may have a topic on content creation and have someone in marketing write regular blogs, such as how to create content, content guidelines, and promoting content on social media. The same could apply to a specific project where people in a project team are invited to share their journey and capture learnings for the benefit of others.

By crowd sourcing knowledge in this way, you not only capture information that may not have been recorded otherwise – you help people feel that they are contributing more value in the work they do.

Where Viva Topics really shines though is its ability to place this knowledge in front of people and within context while they’re working. If staff are discussing a topic in Teams or an email, Viva Topics will automatically highlight key words. The user can hover over the word to see a topic card with a brief description and link to more information on the topic page. This is especially useful for organisations that use a lot of acronyms, or want to accelerate their onboarding process for new employees.

Once on a topic page, users can also see the pinned subject matter experts to contact them if needed. The AI that sits behind Viva Topics aids in identifying these experts, offering suggestions to knowledge managers who can either approve or reject the suggestion.

Getting started with Viva Topics

The ability to create, curate and make useful information available to people in your organisation (both now and in the future) is essential to the sustainability of your business.

Whether you’re a multinational professional services firm, or a local non-profit organisation with a small team, Viva Topics takes the pain out of knowledge retention while making it easy to cultivate an internal culture of sharing and learning.

Deploying Viva Topics is relatively straightforward as it’s simply an extension of Microsoft 365. But as with any business change, it’s worth having a strategy on how you will roll it out, manage it according to best practice, and achieve maximum user uptake.

As a Microsoft Modern Work Solutions partner, we’ve spent a great deal of time with Microsoft Viva and have helped many organisations implement and get the most out of the Microsoft 365 Platform and its new features. For Viva Topics, this includes:

  • understanding how you currently use Teams
  • mapping the availability of useful content across the business
  • setting parameters within Viva Topics
  • establishing core topics to begin curation
  • managing Viva Topics in line with best practice

We can also guide you on how to conduct an effective change management program to boost engagement from your people – particularly your subject matter experts.

With the right approach, Viva Topics can quickly become the eutopia of knowledge management within your organisation; harnessing expertise, retaining it, and disseminating it across the business for the benefit of all.

To find out how we can assist with Viva Topics, call us on (02) 8275 8811 or contact us.