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Microsoft adds Engage, a community-building app, to its Viva employee-experience platform

Microsoft is adding Engage, another new Yammer-based app, to its Viva employee-experience platform. Here's what it is for and how Microsoft is positioning it.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is continuing to grow the footprint of its Viva employee-experience platform with another new app called Engage. Microsoft is positioning Engage as a social-community app with its roots in the Communities app for Teams. Microsoft took the wraps off Engage the company on July 19, the first day of its annual Inspire partner conference.

The Viva employee experience suite, which runs on top of Teams, currently incorporates Viva Learn, Viva Topics, Viva Connections and Viva Goals. Microsoft officials have said they plan to add the Glint HR tools to the Viva suite in 2023. Microsoft also has branded a new CRM companion app as Viva Sales, even though it's not part of the Viva suite.

Viva Connections, which also is based on Yammer, is meant to bring together news, conversations and resources. Confusingly (at least to me), so is Viva Engage. When I asked for more clarification, officials told me that Viva Connections is about connecting employees to company resources, while Viva Engage is more about connecting employees to each other, as well as giving leaders new ways to engage in dialogue with employees. 

Microsoft also is introducing a few personal expression tools that are meant to be part of the Viva community experience:  Storyline, Stories and Video Clip.

Storyline and Stories build on top of OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Stream video service. Storylines are meant to create posts with links, files, photos and videos and will be available to users in Viva Connections, Outlook, Teams and Yammer. The feeds of these posts will be available via a new Storylines tab. Stories are short videos or photos that users can share and upload quickly, officials said.

Video Clip leverages Stream technology but has nothing to do with Microsoft's Cliphamp video production technology. Video Clip will allow users to record and send short video messages in Teams Chat easily. Officials said that Video Clip will be in preview in August and generally available in September.

Microsoft plans to make Engage available to existing Microsoft 365 commercial customers for no additional charge. But users must have a Yammer license in order to use the app. Officials said that Microsoft also plans to rebrand the Communities app for Teams as "Viva Engage" in late August. Viva Engage will be available within the Teams mobile apps for iOS and Android (like the Communities app is now).  

Finally, if you're wondering whether Connections and now Engage mean the end of Yammer, the answer is no. From one of Microsoft's blog posts today about Engage:

"The Yammer web experience and the native Yammer mobile apps will continue to be a part of Microsoft 365 SKUs, and the same communities, storylines, and stories are made available through both Yammer, and the new Viva Engage app. We are continuing to invest in Yammer and bring the powers of Yammer to Microsoft 365 and Viva." 

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