Introducing Microsoft Viva Topics

Published 02-04-2021 06:01 AM 48.6K Views
Microsoft
By Seth Patton, General Manager, Microsoft 365 Next Gen Productivity & Employee Experience

 

Microsoft Viva Topics uses artificial intelligence (AI) to empower people with knowledge and expertise in the apps they use every day and to connect, manage, and protect content across systems and teams.

 

Viva Topics connects people with knowledge and expertise in the apps they use every day.

 

Viva Topics is one of the four modules of Microsoft Viva, the employee experience platform built on Microsoft 365 that empowers people and teams to be their best from wherever they work. Viva brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights into an employee experience that integrates seamlessly into the apps you use every day, such as Microsoft Teams. Learn more about Microsoft Viva.

 

We’re pleased to announce that today, Viva Topics has reached general availability for our commercial customers - one of four modules announced today as part of Microsoft Viva.


Microsoft Viva, the employee experience platform built on Microsoft 365, is introduced by Satya Nadella, Jared Spataro, thought leaders, and customers.

 

A growing sea of information

Each day, our pool of shared information grows, and the complexity of gaining knowledge grows with it. Today, the average employee spends more than an hour a day searching or recreating information that already exists in their organization—more than triple the time they spent just five years ago. Onboarding, skill development, and knowledge drain are paramount issues for leadership and information workers alike.
(source: Spiceworks/Ziff Davis. Knowledge Sharing in a Changing World. February 2021. [Commissioned by Microsoft].)

 

Wasted time is frustrating and unproductive, but solutions are available. Based on an analysis by Forrester Research, a typical organization can see benefits of US $42 million to $127 million by adopting Viva Topics as part of Microsoft 365 solutions for Knowledge and Content Services.

(source: Forrester Research commissioned by Microsoft. New Technology: The Projected Total Economic Impact™ of Microsoft 365 Knowledge & Content Services. February 2021.)

 

Our commitment

Preserving knowledge, reducing disruptions, optimizing people’s time, and improving decision-making are goals that leaders and employees share. We recognized that combining the capacity of the Microsoft Cloud with the AI power of the Microsoft Graph created an opportunity to help our customers transform content into knowledge.

 

Almost two years ago, we launched the Project Cortex Preview Program. We were humbled at how many customers were eager to help shape the product. For more than a year, dozens of companies, such as Arla Foods, Mott MacDonald, Unilever, and Siemens Healthineers, have been using Viva Topics to put knowledge to work across their organizations.

 

Viva Topics

Starting today, we’re making this powerful solution available for all Microsoft 365 customers to try or purchase. Let’s look at how Viva Topics works.

 

Topic highlights connect you to knowledge in Microsoft 365Topic highlights connect you to knowledge in Microsoft 365

 

Turn content into knowledge that works

Viva Topics builds on the Microsoft 365 apps and content you already use every day and the connections you have with people across your organization. Viva Topics uses AI to reason over your organization’s data and automatically organizes content and expertise across your systems and teams into related topics, such as projects, products, processes, and customers.

 

Soon, Viva Topics will integrate information from outside the Microsoft 365 cloud using our Graph–based content connectors—available from both Microsoft and our partners—which integrate knowledge from more than 130 data sources, including Salesforce, ServiceNow, MediaWiki, file shares , and Microsoft Azure services. Connectors also include a robust set of APIs to facilitate development of your own connectors.

 

“In an increasingly distributed and hybrid workforce, companies need to create consistent and frictionless experiences that make it easy for employees to get work done, regardless of where they are working,” said Melanie Lougee, Head of Employee Workflow Strategy at ServiceNow. “Our integrations with Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Viva provide one-stop-shop access to information and services for employees across IT, HR, Facilities, Legal and Finance. ServiceNow Employee Workflows provide unified experiences for employees across the enterprise, and we’re thrilled to continue to partner with Microsoft to enhance engagement, collaboration and productivity for the future of work.”

 

Topic connections on a topic pageTopic connections on a topic page

 

When Microsoft Viva discovers topics, they appear as suggestions in the topic center. In the future, the topic center can be accessed from Microsoft Teams or SharePoint. You will be able to use the topic center to discover recommended content based on the topics you follow or manage, personalized by the Microsoft Graph. You can also manage your connections to shared topics.    

 

Suggested content and topics are governed by privacy controls, security and the Microsoft Graph. Users can only see the content where they already have access. Relevance and suggested people are based on open signals from the Graph – activities such as authoring a document. People can control which topics they wish to be associated with. Passive activities like reading a document are excluded from relevance calculations.

 

Additionally, the Topics web part is available for all licensed users to view suggested and personalized topics and manage their connections to topics.  You’ll be able to add this web part to any pages in SharePoint or Microsoft Teams, so you can build knowledge into your existing employee experiences, such as intranet sites.

 

Personalized knowledge in the topic centerPersonalized knowledge in the topic center

Organize knowledge into topic pages

When Microsoft Viva identifies topics, it collects and curates related information in topic pages. Topic pages are built automatically by AI and augmented by experts. Topic pages enable your organization’s experts to share and refine knowledge about the topic by adding and editing pages with wiki-like simplicity.

 

Topic pages provide a comprehensive view of related information, including:

  • Alternate names.
  • Definitions.
  • Recommended and suggested people.
  • Recommended and suggested content.
  • Related sites and teams.
  • Map of related topics.
  • Optional web part integration, such as Yammer communities.

Over time, human expertise and AI combine to improve the quality of shared knowledge.

 

Topic pages combine the best of AI and human curationTopic pages combine the best of AI and human curation

 

Make knowledge easy to discover and use

While working in Microsoft 365 apps, you’ll see topics highlighted when they appear in pages, messages, and content. These highlights reveal topic cards. Topic cards provide knowledge in context without searching or changing apps. Cards summarize the topic with alternate names, definitions, experts, and recommended resources.

 

If you’ve ever joined a new company or project and encountered unfamiliar acronyms or terms, topic cards provide a quick way to connect to shared knowledge. They also connect you to topic pages for more detail.

 

Topic cards in Microsoft TeamsTopic cards in Microsoft Teams

 

And Viva Topics is integrated into other Microsoft applications, such as SharePoint and Microsoft Search. Topic highlights will be integrated into Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and other Microsoft 365 apps throughout 2021, creating a personalized experience and putting knowledge right at your fingertips.

 

 

Viva Topics also makes Microsoft Search better. When your search query relates to a topic, the topic card is returned as the primary answer.

 

 

Viva Topics connects people to recommended experts as well. Expertise is added to user profiles and extended to people cards throughout Microsoft 365—another way for knowledge to find you as you work.

 

Topic cards attached to people cards in Microsoft OutlookTopic cards attached to people cards in Microsoft Outlook

 

Soon, you’ll also be able to use Viva Topics to find answers to common questions. If Viva knows the answer, you’ll get it immediately. If not, Viva can ask known experts for their response. Over time, their accepted answers are added to everyone’s shared knowledge, so everyone benefits.

 

Microsoft Viva Topics automatically connects your questions to expert answersMicrosoft Viva Topics automatically connects your questions to expert answers

.

Security, compliance, and administration

Viva Topics delivers the security, privacy, and compliance you expect from Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft Graph. Users have access to only those topics to which they’ve been granted access.

 

In addition, the topic center enables knowledge managers to shape the knowledge life cycle. They can review suggested topics and decide whether to approve or remove them. They can also review interactions and feedback to find the topics that are the most helpful—and those that require refinement.

 

Trending and management in the topic centerTrending and management in the topic center

 

 

As an administrator, you’re in control of knowledge discovery. You can control which content is included in Viva Topics based on selected sites, teams, or labels. Only licensed users have access to topic cards, topic pages, and topic centers.

 

Microsoft Viva Topics works with our other content management tools, including Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance and SharePoint Syntex, to apply security and compliance policies to content automatically. Licensed users see topics based on the content they can access. You can also shape the visibility of the topics themselves to further shape knowledge with appropriate security.

 

Next steps

We invite you to learn more about Microsoft Viva, Viva Topics, and Microsoft’s solutions for knowledge and content services. Want to see more? Just visit the Viva Topics Resource Center for an interactive demo.

 

Tune in to this special #MSFTViva episode of #TheIntrazone podcast with Jared Spataro: "Viva Las Microsoft." Hear from Jared about the design of Microsoft Viva and its four main components: Connections, Insights, Learnings and Topics.

 

 

In addition, we’re proud to introduce the Preferred and Charter members of the Microsoft 365 Content Services Partner Program. These members have been trained to envision and deliver solutions based on Viva Topics and other Microsoft 365 capabilities for knowledge and content services. Microsoft Viva will provide an open and extensible platform as well as a strong and growing ecosystem of partners so that it works seamlessly with your existing systems and tools.  Partners can sign up today for more information.

 

If you’re ready to try Viva Topics, trials and purchases are available today.

 

Please join our community on the Microsoft Tech Community, or visit our Viva Topics Resource Center for demos, white papers, analyst research, videos, and more. We look forward to hearing from you as we put knowledge to work, together. Thanks.

 

- Seth Patton, General Manager, Microsoft 365 Next Gen Productivity & Employee Experience

40 Comments
Frequent Contributor

Great to see Viva Topics becoming available as the first employee experience platform that is designed to empower people and teams to be their best, from anywhere. Looking forward to seeing this in action!

 

p.s. The link https://aka.ms/ContentServicesProgram is currently not working, can you fix this?

Occasional Contributor

I wanted to jump on board right away with my development tenant to check out Viva Topics, unfortunately I can't:

 
Thank you for choosing Topic Experiences

Looks like you can't use this trial

Looks like you can't use this trial with this account: dennis@<tenant>. Your tenant is not eligible. Check for other products.

 

What are the tenant requirements?

Contributor

Got excited to try this Viva Topics out. Somewhere it says it's generally available and accessed via Teams. But can't see any apps for this yet. So how exactly do you access or may be enable this? No clear informational on this yet.   Thanks 

New Contributor

There's mention of an admin setting to turn Topics on/off (default is off), but I can't find any material on how to turn it on!  I've purchased and assigned trial licenses...

 

BTW How do Viva Topic licenses differ from Project Cortex licenses?  Or is this how Project Cortex will be purchased going forward?

 

Senior Member

@CraigHumphrey, admin settings to turn Topics on/off is accessible via Settings > Org Settings > Topic Experiences.

I agree information is really lacking in this area.

New Contributor

Thanks @Johan_Karlsson_sweco and for completeness, that's in the M365 Admin Center.

Microsoft

@Johan_Karlsson_sweco  and @CraigHumphrey  - The documentation can be found at Introduction to Microsoft Viva Topics | Microsoft Docs. How to set it up is at Set up Microsoft Viva Topics | Microsoft Docs

 

I'm not a licensing expert (I'll look to @Chris McNulty for those details) but I can point you to where to Buy Microsoft Viva Topics | Microsoft Viva or buy/trial SharePoint Syntex.  

Microsoft

Thanks @Pam Green for jumping in on the documentation and purchasing links.   A few comments:

@Monir once your tenant is activated for Topics you can assign licenses and configure Topics in the Admin Center.

@Dennis Gaida dev tenants aren't eligible for trial licenses, unfortunately.

Contributor

Thanks, @Chris McNulty 

 

Just to clarify for all - the only way you can activate Topics is by trying the free trial or buying the license from here

 

Interestingly, it is not mentioned anywhere in  Introduction to Microsoft Viva Topics | Microsoft Docs. How to set it up is at Set up Microsoft Viva Topics | Microsoft Docs

 

Once I opted in for trial then I could follow the steps provided in the above docs. Thanks 

Occasional Visitor

looked for answer but cannot seem to find: How long should we expect to wait to see our first Suggested Topic in the Topic Center, once we've completed the setup process?

Microsoft

@MOD_Administrator210  it can take from a fw days for two weeks to Topics AI to go through your content and start to suggest topics.

New Contributor

The Topics site is empty, I guess it needs time to populate? Everything is empty, looks like this...
I feel like I should be able to at least create my own topics?

topa.png

 

Valued Contributor
I’m in this situation too. Creating my own Topics is possible now but the site still won’t recognise these are available. Not sure either how long before automated Topic creation should commence. Getting the Graph to kick start I guess...
Contributor

@agneum  @John Wynne as per @Chris McNulty  it takes about two days to two weeks for AI to fetch and index and then Topics to display any info. so that means by the time we get to see any reasonable info the trial time will be over. May be Microsoft can extend the trial period a bit given this fact..

 

However, I was able to create new Topic by going to Topic Center Home page and then from the New dropdown and selecting Topic page. Initially, it did not show anything but next morning I see a Topic confirmed  connection information on the Topic Center home page. 

 

@Chris McNulty  @Seth Patton  - fyi  - the 'New topic page' creation option under the Manage topics tab is not working.  it must be a glitch..

Senior Member

For those who are interested in knowing what the set-up process is like, a recording (from our own production set-up) has been made available here:
https://www.clearpeople.com/blog/microsoft-viva-topics-walk-through-of-set-up 

(it shows the steps from picking the license, through to completing the admin centre set-up)

 

With regards to some of the common questions / comments....

a) Viva Topics requires (currently and as far as I know) a licensed tenant in order to activate the trial or to buy. In other words, trial/dev tenants are not eligible (at least that has been our experience, even as a Preferred Partner in the program).

b) After the initial set-up, it can take a few hours for the actual Viva Topics components to be deployed into the Site Collection (i.e. into to Topics Center)

c) After the Viva Topics components have landed in the Site Collection, it will still take a while (days easily) before any suggested topics appear, but in the meantime, you can start creating Topic Pages manually. 

Contributor

I managed to experience the Viva Topics in action - seeing the highlighted Term / Topic in SharePoint content, Like it. This was accomplished by creating new Topics.
Don’t see any AI generated Topics yet,  probably because don’t have much relative content for this or just taking long time. 

I also see now the Viva Insights App for Teams. 

I've got Topics trial licences and setup Topics Center and created first topic.  

 

I can see Viva Insights in Teams now but not yet Viva Topics.  Should Topics be available in Teams just yet?

Senior Member

@PeterRising glad to hear you've added your first topic! In the future, the topic center will be available in Microsoft Teams.

New Contributor

1) The "New Topic Page" button under /sites/Topics?tab=ManageTopics doesn't work.

2) When you've created a new topic, it doesn't show in the list of published topics, nor in any other tabs (Suggested , configrmed etc).

3) There is no menu options in Teams for topics..

 

 

Contributor

@agneum same here. But what I witnessed, if you create a new Topic, it shows up on the Topic Center home page after some hours...

New Contributor

@Monir If you go into https://admin.teams.microsoft.com/policies/updatemanagement create group where you enable preview features, then in your Teams client, go to Profile > About > Public Preview enable it, Restart Teams, Profile > Check for updates, Restart Teams again. Do the topics that you see in the topic center show up for you?


New Contributor

I could add "Insights" app, but not "Topics". Why isn't it in my Teams client? I have preview enabled , a license, and created topics on the Sharepoint. 
There's literally no information past how you enable the service for your tenant.

wheretopics.png

Contributor

@agneum  you don't see Topics in Teams now because it's not ready for Teams yet per the info provided above in this blog notes. It says,  "When Microsoft Viva discovers topics, they appear as suggestions in the topic center. In the future, the topic center can be accessed from Microsoft Teams or SharePoint."  you can find this note right beneath the image, "Topic connections on a topic page".  So, we have to wait for it to be available for Teams. 

 

Btw - I was also under the impression in the beginning that Topics would be available now in Teams, hence, I made a comment on this earlier. But upon further reading came to know that's not the case.

 

Also note: Insights is now available for Teams.

 

Senior Member

This looks great but a fundamental question... will Topics work outside of Teams? My Org. does not use Teams so wondering if/how we can use Topics without Teams?

Microsoft

@alongoldberg  yes you can use it in SharePoint and coming to Teams channels, Yammer, Outlook, Office and more.

Occasional Contributor

Awesome!

One question about --> "Viva Topics will integrate information from outside the Microsoft 365 cloud using our Graph–based content connectors"

 

We are interested in leveraging advantage of existing profiles / skills on LinkedIn, among other things one of your services :), to import additionally or to complement our internal profile card in M365.

 

Is it something feasible with Viva Topics?

 

Thanks in advance for your input.   

Microsoft

@4lexius4 world  adding Graph-connected content to topic pages is on our backlog for later in 2021.

Super Contributor
Viva topics is a bit glitchy. It took a long time (over night) to fully provision and longer to start getting topics. Now, I edit a topic and then I go back into it and the edits are not in there. It is like in a limbo copy that is going through some plumping. My topic list says last updated 23 hours ago? I guess there is some batch processing on the back end? Also, I edited a Topic and hit Publish. That does not make it Published though, so maybe the button needs to be renamed Save? To publish, you have to go to the list and hit the little check mark? Or maybe related to the delay above, maybe the Publish button does Publish but it takes a while to take effect? It feels like the backend services need more horsepower.
New Contributor

For sure it needs way more work. Someone has to be brutally honest about the state which MS releases features to customers. You can’t pretend you are in VR wonderland as a company with your marketing and sell something that just isn’t ready. 

Occasional Visitor

@Rob O'Keefe How long did it take to suggest the first Topic based on discovery by the AI? For us it has been 13 days so far...

 

@Chris McNulty The AI should work to discover and suggest Topics, even in a Trial subscription, right, or do we need AI Builder Credits or something else to make it work?

 

KTHX:grinning_cat_face:

Super Contributor

We are just in the Trial licenses. I think it took 24-36 hours, it was overnight for sure but not multiple days. We got maybe 30 at first, then it went over a 100 and now a little slower. I have been triaging them (about 10 of them) in terms of naming them, short description, and linked people but not doing anything with linked files (too much work).

Occasional Contributor

One question: is there in the plan to build algorithms that create topic cards and assign experts automatically? If I well understood in this release topic cards need to be created manually and also the experts need to be added manually. Tks!

 

 

Super Contributor

@4lexius4 world the current release is creating Suggested cards with content. The content may include a short description if it can find one. All of our suggested topics have suggested contacts, it is pretty easy to remove and/or Pin contacts to a topic.

 

It brings up a list of related files, that part i have not spent much time assessing the quality of the suggested documents.

Occasional Contributor

I have a question - currently our topics are populating and I am able to confirm and publish them however they're not really appearing anywhere within our apps. I've managed to find one active topic on a SharePoint page, but topics are being referenced within email, word docs or Teams. I remember seeing a product demo where it was creating a link to topics within a Word doc, is this still the case?

 

Additionally, I'm not sure why after a topic has been published those changes to do replicate to mentioned topics, is this a latency issue? 

 

Support are clueless!

 
 
Super Contributor

We are in the same boat. Topics are being generated but they only show up on Sharepoint pages and in Search.

 

  • the topics it is finding are good, but the topic pages are mediocre. The people matched and document matches are not that great
  • We don't DO that much on a Sharepoint page, Sharepoint is a means to get to a document. Is there any timeline on when this will work on MS Word on Windows platform (NOT Word Online). I suspect this is over a year away, but they are not saying. So how much time and energy do we invest in an unknown??
  • Editing topics is still problematic. I edit Topic A and save it. Then I go directly back in and it shows me the old prior version. It has the new version, but it is somehow going through some slow publishing workflow. Very aggrevating. If you try to edit it again, it says you are not on the current version.

Hopefully we get more information shared here on these issues.

Occasional Contributor

@Rob O'Keefe Reassuring to know it's not just our tenant experiencing these issues. 

Regular Visitor

Viva Topic is not working although i have a trial license.


After posting the pages are still sit in the sharepoint but nothing show in my homepage

Occasional Visitor

Viva Topics should be included in the E5 license. It's a much-needed product improvement to SharePoint. This should not be an added cost IMO

New Contributor

Anyone else find the process of setup of Topics to be extraordinarily lengthy?  I have a very small nonproduction tenant and set this up and have been waiting over a day and a half to get the auto suggestions topics to appear and they aren't there yet, to compound the issue i have created 5 topics manually while i was waiting and it took around 30 hours to show 5 published topics in the screen but they weren't actually visible in manage topics webpart. Today i have logged in and those 5 topics that were supposedly published yesterday and now gone and says 0 again. So not sure what happens after something is published i thought there was another step to then make them into topics or visible?

 

I'm sure its a timing thing and maybe super slow first time but if it takes over 30+ hours to get a topic live we are going to loose the battle with funding in IT to have this put in for staff. :(

Senior Member

@NightmareRambo77  - Topics is not intended for small data sets (so it can be a challenge in a non-prod tenant).

 

It works best when it can work its way across / discover at least 20,000 items. I won't pretend to know the ins and outs of "why", but it relates to the large scale compute behind the scenes and machine learning which does not perform well on small datasets (if you look into ML you will often see reference to complex models relying on large sample sets etc).

 

It will in any case take several days (anywhere up to 2 weeks we are seeing) to start providing good Topics results, and it will continue to discover topics over time. It will also improve over time as connections to topics and the topics themselves get curated.

 

If you are looking for a winning business case, then start with the business problems / user scenarios that relate to discovering (and making sense of) data that otherwise might be "in the dark". If you have suitable user scenarios where the data/people are in M365 today, and where you have high enough data volumes, then Topics may be suitable help you build the connections between the data and the people.

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