Microsoft Viva One Year On: Ten Million Users and Counting

But Does Ten Million Represent Success?

Microsoft Viva applications

After Microsoft blogged on February 4 about the success of Microsoft Viva one year after its announcement, some commentators noted that the numbers did not seem earthshattering. Microsoft said that “Viva now has more than 10 million monthly active users” with “over 1,000 paying customers” and gave no further detail. The natural thing is to compare the Viva number against Office 365 (now perhaps 330 million monthly active users), and deduce that after a year of Microsoft hype and sales activity, less than 3% of the target Office 365 customer base use Viva.

Microsoft didn’t define what makes a Viva user active and eligible for inclusion in the monthly active user count. It could be clicking on a topic in a document, taking a course through Viva Learning, or sending someone praise or booking focus time through Viva Insights. We don’t know.

An Enterprise Play

The math works, but it’s erroneous. Microsoft Viva is an enterprise play, and much of the Office 365 installed base is composed of small tenants. The same is true for Teams (270 million monthly active users according to the Microsoft FY22 Q2 results). Sure, small tenants can get value from Viva Learning, Viva Connections, and Viva Insights, all of which are largely free (until you plug in external learning sources), but few small to medium organizations will have the bandwidth or investment appetite to plunge into knowledge management with Viva Topics.

Certainly, it is the enterprise segment where Microsoft can sell annual subscriptions to the Viva suite at $144 user/year (currently on promotion at $108 user/year), or the Viva Suite with Glint at $180 user/year. Glint is an employee experience platform that integrates with. Alternatively, individual options are available, such as Viva Topics at $48 user/year (reduced from the original $60 user/year), or Viva Insights (spanning both MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics). The personal form of Viva Insights is free, but the workplace-level analytics (largely for managers) comes with a $48 user/year price tag. Of course, list prices are notoriously variable when subjected to the rigors of enterprise negotiations, so the 1,000 paying customers claimed by Microsoft have likely benefited from lower per-user subscriptions.

Given the above and because Microsoft delivers many Viva components through Teams, a better comparison is the sixty-odd million Teams users represented by the 124 organizations with more than 100,000 Teams users and 3,000 organizations with more than 10,000. I know that this amounts to 42.4 million, but I assume some growth since Microsoft last reported numbers for large enterprise adoption of Teams and that some organizations (like Accenture) have many more than 100,000 users. Put beside 60 million, the 10 million claimed for Viva is more positive after one year’s selling and marketing efforts.

Technology Delivery

Although Microsoft has delivered all the Viva components it announced last year and has applied rebranding liberally, like the Viva daily briefing email (recently extended to cover Japanese and simplified Chinese). However, some important capabilities have not appeared. The most notable is client support for Viva Topics. If organizations go through the substantial and ongoing effort to categorize and manage the knowledge gathered from content stored in SharePoint Online, it’s nice to be able to benefit from the work. Topic cards are available in SharePoint news items and the Office Online apps (Figure 1).

Viva Topics are available in the Microsoft 365 Office Online apps

Microsoft Viva
Figure 1: Viva Topics are available in the Microsoft 365 Office Online apps

Worthy as it is to have Topics surface in the Office Online apps, the promised availability of topic cards in Outlook, OWA, and Teams chat and channel messages is not yet there. That’s disappointing because these applications are where users spend a lot of time, and it’s where they can leverage knowledge through topic cards.

Viva Year 1 Scorecard

After a year, Microsoft has successfully shipped the four elements of the Viva suite. Paying customers are using the technology, and Microsoft has rebranded and included existing technology into Viva to build out the suite. Sometimes the enthusiasm for claiming everything for Viva goes too far, like making the nine million praise badges (Figure 2) issued to users in the last year seem like a great success for Viva.

Nine Million Microsoft Viva praises
Figure 3: Nine Million Microsoft Viva praises

Of course, the Teams praise app has been around since 2019 and organizations have been able to create custom praise badges since 2020, but perhaps praise given through the Viva Insights app is special. The Viva Insights app also hosts the Headspace meditations (now available in French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish). According to Microsoft, the most popular meditation is the one for people working from home who want to bring their workday to a close.

Overall, Microsoft is probably quietly pleased with the success of Viva’s first year. They’d like more customers, but the unavailability of components until mid-2021 limited progress. With everything available, the coming year is an important one for Viva. In February 2023, we’ll have a better view on how successful Viva really is.

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