Microsoft 365 User Profile Card Gets Viva Topics

Expertise Noted in Viva Topics Now Appears on Microsoft 365 User Profile

I consider Viva Topics to be the most interesting part of the Microsoft Viva Suite. Viva Topics allows organizations to mine knowledge from documents stored in SharePoint Online to extract topics of interest to the organization. Knowledge managers then decide which topics to publish to appear in applications and who within the organization have expertise in the topics. The idea is to allow end users to find information more easily, including people that they should consult if they need additional information.

Since its introduction in 2021, Microsoft has gradually expanded the set of apps that highlight topics to include high-traffic apps like OWA and Teams chat. Teams channel conversations do not support Viva Topics, but the beta of the Teams 2.1 client does (Figure 1).

Using Viva Topics in a channel conversation with the Teams 2.1 client
Figure 1: Using Viva Topics in a channel conversation with the Teams 2.1 client

Showing Knowledge in People Cards

Published on 28 March 2023 in Microsoft 365 message center notification MC534310 (Microsoft 365 roadmap item 88697) and now rolling out, the Microsoft 365 user profile card now highlights details of the topics that someone has expertise in, but only if the viewing user has a Viva Topics or Viva Suite license (Figure 2).

Viva Topics listed on a user profile card
Figure 2: Viva Topics listed on a user profile card

This change is part of a process to increase the value of the profile card. The last enhancement was the addition of pronouns, another example is the inclusion of local time information, a feature that first appeared in Teams. The roadmap item specifies that the Viva Topics data appears in “profile cards displayed through Outlook” while MC534310 says that the information is available in profile cards for OWA and SharePoint web parts. Confusingly, MC534310 also mentions that you can see the information in “other Office apps.” My conclusion is that OWA is first to implement the feature and that it will gradually appear throughout Microsoft 365. Time will tell.

Navigating Viva Topics

Selecting a skill brings the user to the topic page (Figure 3). Here they can find additional information about the topic, such as its connections with other topics. You can also see the list of confirmed and suggested experts for the topic.

Viva Topics page
Figure 3: Viva Topics page

Skills and Expertise

Two sets of topics appear in the profile card. If you look at Figure 2, the first set (with a tick mark) contains published topics. The second set contains suggested topics that Viva Topics believes the person is knowledgeable in. However, a knowledge manager has not yet reviewed and published the topic and connected the person to it. In some ways, it’s like the verification process to receive a checkmark for Twitter.

Remember that Viva Topics derives its opinion about user expertise based on the contributions made in documents stored in SharePoint Online (all or some of the sites in a tenant can contribute). Depending on the age of the document or the review cycle for topics, the lists can reflect old product names, projects, and so on. For instance, because I write about many elements in Microsoft 365, Viva Topics considers that my account is connected to a large set of topics (Figure 3). Many of the suggestions are old and will never be confirmed. Others are candidates for updating because the name of a product has changed, and others are obsolete and should be removed. Maintaining the topics and skills is an important role for knowledge managers to ensure that users see relevant and valuable topics. Obviously, I have not been doing a good job as a knowledge manager.

 A user profile with many Viva topics
Figure 4: A user profile with many Viva topics

Extends the Reach of Viva Topics

Including topicsin the user profile card seems like a good idea. If you have the necessary license, the organization has already taken the plunge to use Viva Topics to harness and refine knowledge, so it’s good to have the information available through as many places as possible. On the other hand, if you don’t use Viva Topics you won’t care. And that’s just fine too.

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