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Piloting Microsoft Viva Amplify - What You Need to Know

October 30, 2023
10 min read
Piloting Microsoft Viva Amplify - What You Need to Know
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Read Summary

  • Pilot Viva Amplify early to prove ROI, educate on new communication methods, and understand current vs future capabilities.
  • Scope the pilot to a subset of employees who are leaders and influencers that will benefit most from multi-channel communications.
  • Use the same audience for Viva Amplify and Viva Engage pilots since they have similar premium capabilities.  
  • Teach communication skills to a consistent group of leaders and influencers to help inform and align others.
  • Start with a pilot of any Viva capability before scaling more broadly across the organization over time.

Read Transcript

If you're as excited as I am about Microsoft Viva Amplify, you want to make sure that it's successful in your organization and that it's not limited to just improving communications for a small group of corporate communications team members or those in the leadership team. But across the whole organization over time. In fact, all the Viva licenses, especially Viva Amplify, really are something that can help every employee in an organization.

Let's talk about Viva Amplify pilots and some things we have learned from our experience working with customers in preview with it so that you can now use those things on your own pilot programs. If you don't know about this, Viva Amplify is now available so, it makes a lot of sense to think about how can we plan for and make sure that Viva Amplify is successful in our organizations. Let's talk about the why to pilot.

One of the reasons that you want to pilot Viva Amplify is it does have some implications in that it creates things like Microsoft Teams when you create a campaign. Many organizations might be working on security attestation or compliance and security journeys and planning where the creation of these artifacts or the distribution that Viva Amplify enables to multiple sites and locations, teams, et cetera, across the organization is things that the technology team needs to understand so that they can make sure that they're comfortable with how it's effectively managed for compliance and security today. The good news is it should be a relatively easy discussion because it's using the same tools.

Once it's been published and distributed and where it lives and where it's maintained, it uses the same tools that are there. So if you've secured a site and you publish that site, that site security is going to be applied to that content. If you have that content and it's distributed into exchange, your archiving policy, your discovery policies, etc., all those things will work the same way with that content.

In this way, we're providing time with a pilot to give organizational readiness to ensure that people feel like there are no risks and that they've been mitigated and managed accordingly. The other big reason to do this pilot early is because if we do the pilot earlier, we can prove the ROI and learn how to teach, educate, and support people through the change of learning a new way to communicate. We all know that communication is harder today with more volume, variety, and a much greater demand for faster communication or higher velocity.

This means that we need to use different tools to communicate. Now, AI, of course, is part of that story. But Viva Amplify is also an important part of how we communicate across a Microsoft ecosystem, especially one around the employee experience because each person is often living in Outlook, Teams, Sharepoint, or maybe Viva Engage or other places they don't just visit and live in one. It's really important to meet people where they are in those communication locations.

The other reason that I love a big driver for why to use Microsoft Viva Amplify pilots as a way to prove this out is it also gives you time to understand what Viva Amplify does today and what's coming, because there's a lot of specific scenarios that we run into where customers are surprised that the number of controls that in Viva Amplify isn't as robust as the ones that you have in a Sharepoint page. You can't have every web part that you see in Sharepoint available in Viva Amplify. There's a variety of reasons for it, but one of them is because you're distributing this across different channels.

That baseline experience is going to be different, but it's also important to understand things like it's in English today. If you wanted to do real multi-language scenarios, you might want to wait a little bit. Piloting right now in English while you wait for that, for a larger multinational organization, might make a lot of sense.

Another one is maybe, Viva Engage is really important to you. Well, on release for Viva Amplify, while it's a fast follow, Viva Engage is not part of the core experiences that are built in for publishing and for those distributed channels or Teams instant messages.

Another example is that we use company communicator teams, company communicator with customers for a long time now. That enhanced company communicator experience is one where you don't just push to channels with information, but you often target individuals. Think of a leader in an organization where you want to message them and say, "Hey, at this date, we just published this announcement or a new procedure. We'd love your help and support, informing your teams and referencing these resources for them to learn more and basically helping support this change and manage it". 

In that example, instant messaging key individuals or collections of people is actually a pretty critical part of that communication journey. While company communicator for Teams, as an example, supports its day, that's something that is coming with Microsoft Viva Amplify.

There are many reasons I could keep going on. Copilot isn't built in yet so, there are a lot of things that are amazing about Viva Amplify in its current state, but there's also a lot that's coming in the months, quarters, and years ahead of us. Depending on your own organization's risk aversion for change, it's often better to start with a pilot so you can learn, get the maximum benefit from it today, and then work on scaling that across the organization as both the capabilities of its increase and your own understanding of readiness does. That's the why for Microsoft Viva pilot.

Let's talk about some of the lessons learned. We know the important things to understand. The first one I mentioned is the scope of the pilot.

When you do a Microsoft Viva Amplify pilot, one of the first things that comes up is, how do we license this? Because, the way Microsoft Viva Amplify works is that it works where the people who are receiving the communications, the targeted individuals, also need to be licensed, not just those who are contributing or distributing the communication. And so that has some implications on our pilot scope. It means that we're targeting not every employee within a pilot.

We need to target a subset of employees where they would benefit from key communication, multichannel, often multi-publication, distributed communication over time. The example I gave earlier is actually a pretty good example, a new update to a procedure. We want to communicate that to lowercase L leaders and capital L leaders, leaders of departments and groups that are responsible for making sure that this is successful and understood and, read and received.

Then there are lowercase leaders who are influencers, and we want to make sure they might be incorporated into this. I will encourage you, we have had success more so when our pilot teams are representative of not just capital L leaders, right, authority figures, but also these lowercase L leaders. This isn't just true for Viva Amplify. But if you're doing a Viva Engage premium or the CNC license for communications within your organization, those pilot programs also really benefit from this.

In fact, it's the same people that you're licensing for both scenarios. Think about it this way: if you know what Viva Engage is, you can use it for storylines. Each employee has the ability to share their thoughts, leadership, and other things within a storyline. Now, capital L leaders or leaders that you assign in Viva Engage, you give them the ability where people can auto-follow them. If they're a sales leader, then their sales team will be automatically following them.

That's a capability that you pay a premium license for. You don't do it for every employee, but you do it for those who you need to set up that auto-follow capability. Another example is you might want to run AMA events, so you want to have more advanced capabilities like the leadership corner representation and more. Those types of capabilities, again, have that premium Viva Engage license capability.

Those leaders are the same ones that would benefit from Viva Amplify. One last parallel here that's really important. When you think of communications, it's actually really useful to think about how people communicate in storylines and how that changes the landscape of how people communicate in traditional places, like within a Sharepoint site for news, if they're executives or a leader today.

As an example, when you publish into a storyline, you can use the audiences, the people who are following you, and push notifications to them. Those notifications can show up in Teams, in the notification activity feed, they can show up in email, Viva Engage application, and of course, they can show up in things like Viva Connections news feeds, if you're familiar with Viva Connections. Or in a Sharepoint page, if you have that Yammer or conversation embedded web part, the Viva Engage control on the page.

Each of these scenarios means that technically, with Viva Engage, without Amplify, when you publish something like a new storyline post, you can do multi-distribution across multiple channels. What Amplify does, is allow us to do that from the publishing framework first instead of from something like storylines. It's a really nice parallel. The people you license and target are the same people for Viva Engage pilots for these premium capabilities as Viva Amplify.

If you've started with your Viva Engage one, great. Learn from that and use that audience. If you haven't done it, amazing. Do them both at the same time. Do a Viva Engage premium capability set along with a Viva Amplify, and you will really be happy with the results from an ROI perspective.

The other reason this is really important is because the way we talk about communications is we have to teach people skills. Typically, while it's useful to teach everyone in the organization how to communicate better, it allows us to have a more consistent group where we're talking about helping other people be informed, follow along, and get aligned.

The use cases tend to be more consistent around capital L leaders and lowercase L leaders, which is another reason why you want to use those audience targets. But think about it like this. If you're going to be successful with any Viva portfolio capability, you need to start with a pilot, and you need to scale from there.

The long-tail or the big value proposition of Viva Amplify is considerable. It's going to help every employee in an organization not just publish better content but learn from it and improve how they manage it. In this pilot phase, it's really important to emphasize how we are going to look at the learning, the reporting, and those types of aggregated results. How are we going to target the right people so that they have something meaningful that they do want to share? They'll probably participate heavily in it and they are also important people to receive these key messages across multiple mediums and across multiple time periods.

That's the way we think about Viva Amplify pilots today. I hope there were some useful tidbits in there for yourself as you're preparing your own organization for your Viva Amplify journey. 

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