Exactly 10 years ago today, Microsoft completed its $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer, an enterprise-focused social networking platform. Despite a big Yammer overhaul in 2019, Microsoft has been increasingly focused on Teams and its new Viva platform as the hubs of communication in workplaces.
Microsoft is now launching Viva Engage today, a new Facebook-like app inside Teams that encourages social networking at work.
Viva Engage builds on some of the strengths of Yammer, promoting digital communities, conversations, and self-expression in the workplace. While Yammer often feels like an extension of SharePoint and Office, Viva Engage looks like a Facebook replica. It includes a storylines section, which is effectively your Facebook news feed, featuring conversational posts, videos, images, and more. It looks and feels just like Facebook, and it’s clearly designed to feel similar so employees will use it to share news or even personal interests.
Microsoft has been trying to build something similar for a decade, with its initial Yammer investment into enterprise-focused social networking paving the way for communities within organizations that rely on Office. Yammer integration into SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics, and Skype felt more forced than something businesses were regularly demanding.
As such, Microsoft Teams has been increasingly positioned as the hub for work and communications at Microsoft, and the pandemic has certainly sped up businesses’ transition to hybrid work and the need for apps like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack. Teams is now the natural point where employees communicate and share for many businesses and has increasingly become its own form of a social network for many employees running Teams channels.
Viva Engage will also include Stories — yup, the same Stories you find on Snapchat and Instagram and the feature that Microsoft-owned LinkedIn gave up on last year. Stories within Microsoft Teams and Viva Engage will let employees share just as they do on Instagram, so if you’re desperate to share your vacation photos with co-workers, you no longer have to follow each other on Instagram or clog up each other’s Outlook inboxes.
Ultimately, Viva Engage offers yet another way to create a community within an organization, and Microsoft’s Teams integration and focus on consumer-like social networking could make it more successful than what it has attempted in the past. It’s hard not to imagine that Viva Engage was created with Facebook Workplace in mind, or Workplace from Meta, as it’s now branded. Microsoft has been increasingly wary of Meta’s push into the enterprise, and the pair are increasingly on a collision course for metaverse competition.