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Microsoft 365 customer questions – Viva Amplify boosting internal comms

I work in the business of dealing with customer questions on Microsoft 365 all the time (disclosure), either directly or indirectly. This is part of a series of posts where I share them if they can be of help to others. Where I can of course and naturally, not just the questions but the answers too. All questions and answers strive to respect both sides sensitivities (parts will have been redacted and/or anonymised) and the main topic is covered in each post title.

I have written about Microsoft Viva before, in relation to an employee experience trend report I am working on as well as in answer to other customer questions on the multiple Viva modules being rolled out. As that roll out continues, I continue to address the new opportunities and questions that arise. Past posts below for your interest, before I get to Viva Amplify, a new module just announced (scroll through for the full list).

Why Internal Comms is ripe for disruption

I have also written about internal comms before: Internal Communications is more important than ever but missing a trick. In that post I talked about a new Microsoft Teams App called Company Communicator that could be used by internal comms teams and I covered some of the benefits of that over traditional means. Well you can think of Viva Amplify as a form of Company Communicator but on steroids, reaching more channels, with built in analytics (which was missing from Company Communicator), etc. Ultimately Viva Amplify will boost the function of internal comms even further and take it to the next level. I’m super excited by the possibilities.

What is Viva Amplify?

With new communication capabilities in Microsoft Viva, you can create messages to drive business outcomes as well as plan, create, manage and publish all your workplace communications from one place.

Reach all your employees on any device, wherever they work (i.e. the tool they are working in at the moment), whether you’re planning a large campaign or sending out weekly updates.

Jumpstart your process using Viva’s writing guidance, which makes it easier to create messages that resonate with your audience and in the right channel. Save time rewriting the same message for a different channel or audience in just a few clicks.

Viva Amplify gives you a single place to share drafts and track approvals, and it also helps you visualize and optimize your messages by previewing your final output for each channel.

In addition to messages, you can also define campaign objectives to help you set clear messaging goals within multiple channels, whether that’s Outlook, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer and more. All this before you hit send.

Then use Viva’s Campaign hub to understand and track the impact your messages will make. Know what’s working and how to improve your messages for next time you have a story to tell.

Here is a short gif to give you a flavour of how this will work (note that this may change in the final version when it launches some time early in calendar year 2023).

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Content management with WordPress evolved – full site editing 1

Last month WordPress announced that full site editing was coming to its users of which I am one. I’ve been meaning to take it for a spin but haven’t managed to until now. This post is an attempt at documenting my experiences as I try and learn the new functionality as well as get to grips with how to test new features and functions like this on my active site without breaking it. I’ll track it all with my WordPress tag.

So on the very last point mentioned, I came across this option for How to Create Your Own WordPress Staging Site. I was going to explore that option but before I could, I came across this video below – a recording of a webinar run by WordPress on full site editing.

It does a great job not only of showing how full site editing works, but also goes through an alternative site staging option. It shows how to create a new site on WordPress and export and import your current site content and test that with a new block theme that works with full site editing. This way you test the new site theme and functionality in a kind of staging environment with existing content until happy and then you could switch to this new site when happy. Or upgrade your current site knowing what works and how.

But as attractive as this last option seemed, I soon ran into problems.

Problems with using as a staging site

  1. I’m currently on a Business Plan which is needed for enabling WooCommerce.
  2. My site has ecommerce functionality based on WooCommerce and using the Storefront theme currently. The Storefront theme is not currently capable of full site editing.
  3. I found a cool alternative: Wowmall – WooCommerce block based theme
  4. The problem is on a free WordPress site you cannot run WooCommerce and nor can you upload the Wowmall theme – you need to be on a Business Plan at least. This is cost prohibitive.
  5. My Plan B is to try run this on a an Azure plan I have, i.e self hosted WordPress on which I can instal WooCommerce and upload the Wowmall theme after grabbing it from here. Good article here on how to run WordPress on Azure.

So that’s all for now. I’ll update my progress in another post.

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Internal Communications is more important than ever but missing a trick

If you’ve been following anything I have written in the last few months around employee experience, you’ll see that it is equally as important and indeed crucial to customer experience but often lacks attention, although that is now changing. It’s similar to enterprise software which has often lagged behind end consumer software in terms of innovation and adoption. Likewise, internal communications is a vital ingredient in employee experience but I think its been missing a trick.

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Considering Microsoft Teams as a Platform – get started with App templates

In several foundational pieces I have written about Microsoft Teams as a Platform (disclosure). This post gets to some of the detail and focuses on a simple way to get started with use of App templates in Teams. This is a big focus of my work with customers at the moment and I give an overview of the App template library and then dive into two popular Apps.

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The innovation train and how best to lubricate the collaboration tracks

It has been almost 20 years since the birth of the social web and maybe a little less for the enterprise which caught up later. In this brave new world, especially in the enterprise, email was to be replaced in favour of tools that were simple, social and collaborative. I’ve been in the business all this time and it seems old habits die hard.

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How to make your activities pop in Microsoft Teams 💥

I’m often asked by customers how they can make things stand out in their Teams activities. It’s often when things have taken off on Teams in their organisation and activities starts to explode. Standing out when things are quiet is easy, when there is a flood of information and messaging, not so much. So I’ve put this simple little post together to show how I and others who are good at it, try make things stand out.

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Microsoft Teams Live Events and the new channels of work

I’ve just come off a week of successfully helping a customer run a Microsoft Teams Live Event for an annual event they run. The nature of the event they ran last week was to showcase innovation by the IT department to the rest of the organisation. This was the 5th such event being run in as many years.

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