Viva Engage – The artist formerly known as Yammer

Viva Engage. The artist formerly known as Yammer.

Today the Microsoft product team announced a much anticipated and predicted change for Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Viva – Yammer is evolving to Viva Engage.

I can’t deny a twinge of sadness that it is time to farewell Yammer as a brand. I’ve been a Yammer user, community manager and advocate since the OG pre-Microsoft days. But for me, this is yet another positive step-change for collaboration, internal communication and community within the Microsoft 365 stack.

Unpacking the announcement

Pretty straight forward really. Key messages from the announcement:

  • Yammer will brand to Viva Engage
  • It will happen over a period of 12 months
  • New features and capabilities are coming
  • Existing customers continue under existing licencing
  • Native mode upgrade is required to benefit

See the full announcement here for all the details: Yammer is evolving to Viva Engage | Yammer Blog

New features – yes please

For Viva suite and Viva Topics customers there are several new features which will enhance existing networks and perhaps be the hero feature for a new network:

  • Storyline Announcements for leaders
  • Leadership Corner for employees
  • Ask Me Anything Events
  • #Campaigns
  • Advanced Analytics
  • Answers in Viva

Practical considerations

I enjoy a shiny new features as much as the next digital workplace nerd, but what does this mean in real terms. What advice would I give to practitioners deciding how to approach this change? The same (or at least similar) advice that I would give about introducing any new product or feature.

Take it back to basics

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Who is going to drive an champion the change?
  • What processes and governance do you need to ensure ongoing success?
  • Where does Viva Engage sit in your overall digital workplace and employee experience strategy?
  • How will you prioritise and resources to support the change, and beyond?

Be purpose driven, not product driven.

Simple to write, takes work in practice.

  • Existing thriving networks: Take the opportunity to embrace new features and give your healthy network a boost with the new brand approach.
  • Existing unloved networks: Dust off that strategy, talk to your people, if there is a need to connect, communicate and collaborate a rebrand could be a nice catalyst for change
  • No current network:  Step back and look at what your people need and then decide if Viva Engage is the right solution.

Community Management, Governance and Leadership are (still) key

Viva Engage offers more than the Yammer of long ago, but it is still at it’s core a community and collaboration tool. If you build it, they might come, but if you want them to stay there needs to be purpose, nurturing, rules and the strong presence of leadership.

Fortunately recent releases and improvements have made it easier to do a great job of this. If you’re having conversations about Viva Engage in your organisation you definitely want your Change Management team along side you, clear governance, capable Community Managers and strong Leaders who are equipped to leverage the power of Viva Engage.

Yammer is not dead – it’s evolved

I feel pretty confident that I can retire my ‘Yammer is not dead’ slide, and perhaps I don’t need the Yammer Time Gif any more. But Yammer being dead or alive was never the point. The point is that it did, and Viva Engage does, provide an incredibly useful toolset that has a track record of delivering value for organisations who need to connect their people.

References and perspectives

I’m keeping an eye out for resources from Microsoft and perspectives from people in the community. Here are a few I’ve already come across in the hours since the announcement.

Yammer is evolving to Viva Engage – Microsoft Community Hub

New Leadership, Analytics, and Knowledge Experiences for Viva Engage are now rolling out – Microsoft Community Hub

Viva Engage features for leaders – Dan Holme

New features for leaders, communicators and employees in Microsoft Viva Engage | LinkedIn

Yammer Service to be rebranded Viva Engage across all platforms – Kevin Crossman

Viva Engage has the answer – The Intrazone Podcast

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