Viva Connections: Building a More Engaged Work Environment

Microsoft’s Viva Connections is one of four facets of the Microsoft Viva Suite along with Viva Insights, Viva Learnings, and Viva Topics. Viva connections, specifically, is an application that drills into the employee experience to enable connection and engagement like never before.

With remote and hybrid work settings becoming the norm, connecting your team and preventing isolation is more important than ever. Read on to learn more about how this powerful tool works and how you can implement it to better your organizations culture.

The Objective

Viva connections’ goal is oriented around (drum roll please) …keeping people connected! It does this by offering users a a personalized view of news, conversations and groups with the same applications and devices they already utilize in their day to day, giving your employees have everything they need to stay engaged.

This application also focuses on enabling team members to contribute their ideas easily and freely, to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Not only are you sure to gather key insights from your team, but you can drill deeper into them with polls and surveys.

These features and capabilities are imperative tools that allow you to create a culture where everyone feels their voice is heard and build trust in a fun and easy way!

Furthermore, Viva Connections lets you curate your dashboards to provide fast and easy access to company resources, such as events, holidays, even health and wellness reminders! With Microsoft Viva Connections, you can have all the benefits of a remote workspace, while still maintaining that ‘togetherness’ feeling of an in-office setting.

Primary Benefits

  • Expands upon already existing Microsoft capabilities to help you specifically target the growth of your company even in a remote setting.
  • Deliver information to team members on desktop and mobile devices.
  • Curate content and tools that best fit your team’s needs.

What Makes Connections Different?

Viva Connections amalgamates content from Microsoft 365 services like SharePoint, Teams, Yammer and more—into a fully-integrated and personalized, singular view for every employee. You can even integrate Viva Connections with other services such as stocks, weather forecasts, and vacation/ holiday schedules to boost engagement beyond Microsoft 365 content.

What ultimately sets Viva Connections apart from other engagement platforms is how customizable and scalable the service is. With Viva Connections, you can build your apps for specific objectives (as needed) and continue to personalize content to improve users’ overall experience as your company grows!

What all is Included?

Viva Connections combines the power of your SharePoint intranet with Microsoft Teams, Yammer, Stream, and other Microsoft 365 applications to allow companies to create and display more intentional content for their employees. These functionalities are delivered through three primary aspects of the application: Dashboard, Feed, and Resources.

Dashboard

As we mentioned, the Viva Connections Dashboard lets you to create a customized experience with Dashboard cards that give your employee's access to the most useful content, tools, and task lists for them. It is essentially a digital toolbelt for your team that allows you to pick the best resources for your current needs -- and change them out as you grow and evolve.

Feed

The Feed on Viva Connections allows users to connect from a tailored view and explore important announcements and relevant information -- and join in on conversations throughout the organization. You can optimize your Feed by delivering SharePoint and Yammer communities together.

Resources

Resources are the navigational links that are set up and customized in the SharePoint app bar from the home site. These resources will get displayed on both the desktop and mobile instances of Viva Connections.

In the mobile app, users can view resources by selecting the Resources tab. This type of functioning provides users with a familiar navigation structure and allows them to open sites, pages, news, and more—right from their mobile devices.

How to Increase Engagement with Viva Connections

It’s no secret that better engagement leads to higher creativity and productivity. However, a huge challenge for businesses in the remote era we find ourselves in, is developing a culture where that kind of engagement flourishes.

What we (and obviously, Microsoft), have found, is that by connecting and unifying your employee’s, you can build that spectacular culture and enthusiasm in your workplace. Viva Connections allows you to do just that in following ways:

  1. Personalize

Delivering a modern, custom experience by pushing relevant content, information, and resources to your users in one place, enables a more purposeful way for your team to engage.

  1. Simplify

Personalizing your engagement platform not only makes the experience more tailored to your team members, but it also makes it easier for them. By customizing the dashboard to your preferred settings for navigation, appearance, and etcetera… you can simplify and therefore streamline communication throughout the application.

  1. Target

Keep your eyes on the prize, so-to-speak. If your goal is to build connection and unity within your company, then you need to get involved with resources that are built to specifically target that.

Ultimately, finding an application or tool that fits your teams’ specific needs for improved connection can be a major step to reaching your engagement goals.

How to Implement

Viva Connections integrates seamlessly into with Microsoft Teams where users will be able to access it. Your organization can easily deploy Viva Connections by building onto existing capabilities in Microsoft 365. Click here and let us help you and your team adopt viva connections today!

outsourced IT during an economic downturn blog feature image depicting happy call center workers.

Outsourced IT: Maintaining Growth During Economic Downturn

Since the pandemic began in 2020, businesses have faced one financial strain after another. The economic state we’ve found ourselves today has certainly raised concerns. Although we are not currently in a recession -- most experts agree that we may be heading for one in the following year.

That being said, no one can really predict the future – especially not when it comes to economics. However, we can prepare for it. Regardless of what is thrown your way, rest assured that there are tools and resources that can help you can tighten the financial belt while also increasing revenue.

One key area of opportunity is in your very own IT infrastructure! In fact, there are many ways that you can leverage and optimize IT assets for growth, even during economic downturns.

Reduce Costs

Reducing costs are important for an onslaught of obvious reasons, but you may be surprised to find just how much an outsourced IT infrastructure fit can help your company’s cost-reduction.

Having fully staffed senior expertise in-house can be expensive. By outsourcing, you can provide your team and clients with the support of knowledgeable IT professionals at an affordable price. You can even find a plan that is customized to your business’s specific needs – learn more here!

Leveraging a quality MSP is not only a wise-investment in-and-of itself, but the money you save by making this calculated switch is then free to be invested further into revenue-building initiatives. More on than below.

Maintain and Increase Revenue

As we mentioned, saving money by utilizing external IT will allow you to re-invest that money into your revenue operations. But furthermore, by putting necessary but mundane tasks into the hands of outsourced IT support, you and your team are free to build upon key strategic ideas to bring in even more (you guessed it) revenue.

This makes outsourced IT a wise investment of both time and money, and only enables your company more access to resources that will allow it to thrive in any climate. Not to mention, you’ll be advancing your customer service during a time-period where nurturing long-term business relations is especially crucial.

With a quality MSP, you’ll still be able to meet your IT needs and while also satisfying the needs of your customers. Quality IT technicians with excellent customer support are a critical part of maintaining the business of clients.

It is important to note that where you outsource to is a critical part of your success. International IT companies are notoriously unsatisfactory for callers. Likewise, a spread-thin in-house IT team simply won’t be able to meet the demanding needs of customers.

That is why we encourage you to look for companies who can offer 24/7*365 support on a national level. This quality service allows you to really boost your position in the eyes of clients, form those lasting relations, and reap in new business via word-to-mouth marketing from satisfied clients.

Protect Data During Vulnerable Times

Not only does having the support of an MSP allow you to capitalize on areas of opportunity, but it also ensures that your key data is protected. It’s no secret that hackers are increasing their attacks daily, and they know that economic stress leaves companies vulnerable and spread thin.

Thriving though economic decline makes maintaining security, compliance, data protection all-the-more important. This can be achieved with a pro-active IT management approach when you leverage the support of outsourced IT experts.

In short, working with an MSP will enable to you focus on the important strategic decisions while also ensuring your data is secured.

In conclusion, as we go forward into the economic unknown of 2023 considering IT outsourcing can give you a leg up in the game. The right managed service provider can allow you to reduce costs, increase revenue, and keep that precious data protected in even the most tumultuous climate.

Also do keep in mind that even outside of economic crisis these benefits remain true for clients that utilize an MSP.Outsourced IT Service blog featured image depicting group of helpdesk workers at their desks.

“Our switch to Managed Solution was like a breath of fresh air. They carefully and competently analyzed our entire ecosystem and suggested changes (not one option, but multiple) to better our systems. There were a number of cost efficiencies put into place…”– Jeffrey G. Penta, CEO, San Diego Eye Bank”

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Outsource IT Helpdesk

 

There are many advantages of outsourcing your IT services; some may seem obvious, while others may surprise you. We conducted a survey of our customers and asked why they chose to outsource their IT services, here are the most common answers to that question. 

Optimized Spend 

Far and away, the top answer was reduction of costs. One of the most significant benefits you may see when partnering with a qualified MSP is reduced costs for IT hardware (volume discounts) software and employee costs. Working closely with your Managed Service Provider can help you lower operational costs, minimize capital budget for technology expenses, and reduce overall IT spend.

Rapid Response 

Workplaces and hours are more flexible than ever before.  Which means companies choosing to build out an internal help desk are now scrambling to offer 24/7 support for the business and many are realizing that this is an expensive proposition. A MSP is available after hours, weekends, and even holidays to provide real-time support whenever you need it.    

Certified Engineers 

A huge benefit of outsourcing your IT is that you are partnered with an entire team of professionals that bring a broad depth of knowledge across industries, at a flat monthly rate. The reality is that no one person can keep up with all the changes happening in technology today, and it’s often not in the best interest of a business, non-profit, or health provider to remain “status quo”. When you partner with a qualified MSP, you receive a team of IT professionals, project managers, cloud experts, help desk professionals, and virtual CIOs that that bring best of breed solutions to help your company remain competitive.   

Security 

Cyber security is not a “set it and forget it” function anymore. In today’s world of increasing ransomware and cyber-crime, all companies need to be looking at MSPs that bring security solutions to the forefront of the conversation. Many MSPs offer the most current cyber products in the market, including training your staff, email, and network monitoring, and even leveraging software that uses artificial intelligence to detect potential issues before they become a problem.   

Scalability 

As your business grows and changes, your IT needs grow, change, and evolve, and you will need to scale your IT systems up or down to accommodate those needs. IT demands can be changed in real-time to meet your unique business needs weather you’re on premise or in the cloud. Your MSP should monitor your needs and provide suggestions to scale up or down based on your hardware usage to ensure that your user experience is maximized while costs are kept low.       

Transparency  

Many MSPs can provide detail customized reporting about your ticket resolution times and utilization of their services.  Also, the ability to log into a dashboard that can show you the health of your IT systems, both on premise and in the cloud. 

What Size Company Benefits from Working with an MSP? 

Overall any size company can receive enormous benefits when working with a Managed Service Provider. A company,  that does not have an IT department can retain a Managed Service Provider to act as an outsourced IT staff that keeps the computers and the network running, makes sure that software upgrades and patches are done, provides cyber security services to minimize the risk of hacks or ransomware, and makes recommendations about timing to replace aging internal servers and networking equipment. Or provide consulting if moving everything to a cloud environment makes more sense for greater accessibility and flexibility.  

Mid-size and large companies, that have an IT Manager, or some IT staff often outsource pieces of their IT functions to avoid hiring and training additional IT engineers and avoid the added expense of company-paid benefits or the risk of turnover that is prevalent today.    

When there is an internal IT team, the MSP staff often takes care of the “day-to-day” issues, such as helping users when they are forgetting passwords, supporting users with access to applications and data, or assisting with network issues.  Many large companies hire an MSP to manage cyber security software and provide “tier 3” technical support beyond the capabilities of internal junior-level IT staff.   

 

What Should I Consider When Selecting a Managed Service Provider? 

Now if you’ve read this far and are thinking, “I could really use the services of a Managed Service Provider,” here are some things to consider...   

Expertise 

Once you understand the range of services you need, look for a Managed Service Provider with the experience and expertise to provide reliable IT solutions for those services. Many small to mid-size Managed Service Providers across the United States specialize in specific products and specific industries. Do your plans include moving to the cloud, look for a Managed Service Provider with cloud experience. Or, if you have a particular software integral to your business, consider a MSP that understands and supports that software.   Struggling with  compliance requirements, make sure the MSP has the tools and ability to support your organization through this complex process. 

A Managed Service Provider with the right expertise can become a partner in your business’s growth, management, and health.   

Range of Services 

Every MSP has a range of services that they provide to take care of your IT and cloud needs. Those can include onsite IT resources, remote technical support and network monitoring.  Along with cyber security software products, cloud hosting and management, even virtual CIO services. Determine the services you need and partner with a Managed Service Provider that comprehensively addresses your unique needs.   

 

Security Solutions  

It is critical to work with a MSP that operates in protected environments to ensure the safety of your data. Find out what security products are available and if they’re offering the most comprehensive solutions to keep your data safe.   

If you’re in a cloud environment here are some items to consider:

  • are they advising a “shared” cloud or a “private” cloud
  • consequently what are the risk should another of their clients fall to a cyber-attack
  • if you need to change service providers would there be a cost to migrate your systems off their platform
  • how easy would it be to migrate off the platform

Customer Experience 

Firstly make sure to discuss your needs and requirements when it comes to response times.  Dig into the support structure to make sure they have an adequate number of employees to support your organization.  What type of customer service does the Managed Service Provider provide? Customer service should be apparent at every stage of their operation, from the sales team to the technical support. A MSP is an essential part of your tech team, ensure you are working with a helpful service-minded provider. Most MSPs monitor client satisfaction, ask to see those scores to find out how their clients experience the service received.   

Reach 

If you have offices in multiple cities or states, find a MSP that can support all locations. However many MSPs work only regionally, while others have the resources to provide services nationally or internationally.   

Trust 

Turning over your IT services to an MSP is a big decision that involves a great deal of trust. Make the right decision, and you sleep well at night. Make the wrong decision, and your business will suffer.    

Understandably trust is earned over time, so be sure to ask your MSP for the following:

  • references
  • customer satisfaction scores
  • number of years in business
  • partnerships (are they large organizations like Microsoft?)
  • review response and professionalism of sales process

Cloud Customization  

Your business is unique, when considering moving to the cloud, you want a MSP that will create a custom environment. Therefore choose a Managed Service Provider that will customize its services and solutions to help optimize your business.  

Cost 

Since cost is a consideration in business decisions compare the cost of the services to the cost of hiring internally. Typically, a company cannot hire the expertise and resources available at the cost a Managed Service Provider charges. Work with the Managed Service Provider to help them understand your budget and choose services that meet your IT requirements. To stay competitive in today’s market, reduce costs and keep your data secure, consider partnering with a MSP.   

 Interested in learning more about our help desk? Click here.

 

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