Viva Topics – Tap into your Collective Knowledge

Viva Topics, one of Microsoft Viva’s core components, helps organizations curate and surface content in the flow of work, so your users can tap into the collective knowledge of your team. You’ve likely heard of Project Cortex, and Viva Topics is the second component to have evolved from it. This post breaks down what Viva Topics is, what is available today, what it costs, and how you can get started using it today.   

What is Viva Topics?  

Viva Topics is Microsoft’s answer to knowledge management demands in the digital workspace. Powered by Microsoft 365, AI, and your internal Knowledge Managers, Contributors, and Admins, you can organize content and information and present collective expertise to your users in context. Viva Topics is more than just AI-driven content grouping and recommendations—though that plays a crucial role. Viva Topics will only be truly successful when properly managed by your team. You must assign dedicated librarians to assist in curating, maintaining, and validating your organization’s information. Viva Topics’ main goal is to help people find what they need when they need it, and apply that knowledge immediately.  

What does this look like in practice? Let’s say I’m a new employee reading a news story on the SharePoint intranet about a new product called ‘Saturn.’ Viva Topics will have crawled all available information on ‘Saturn’ and determined that it is something that deserves a Topic Page. A knowledge manager can then review the AI suggested topic, make any necessary edits/editions to the Topic Page, and publish it. Then I can click on that phrase in the news article, and Viva Topics then serves up a Topic Summary card right in SharePoint. The card gives information like what the product is and other vital information like who’s working on it and how I might get involved. 

Image from Microsoft Viva Documentation. 

Why should I care? What’s in it for me?

A lot of critical information gets stuck in folders, archives, and our minds. Viva Topics helps find groupings and patterns in your organization’s digital workspace, and with the help of your team, provides institutional knowledge to your users when they need it. After all, how many acronyms can our brains possibly store? The beauty of Topics is two-fold, there’s a discovery aspect and a searching component.   

Discovery aspect – the idea here is that the knowledge finds you – you can learn all about what something is in context! Such as my example above.   

Search aspect – Gives people the knowledge they need when searching for a specific topic.  

Viva Topics in three steps: 

Identification: Turning content into knowledge; finding these topics through AI. Topics begin to be recommended based on an analysis of content. AI also finds relations between topics.  

Curation: Topics are curated through a combination of AI and Human curators. Human expertise is needed to help generate, validate, curate, and refine high-value topics.   

Discovery: Those licensed to use Topics can now discover topics delivered in context and through search.   

What does Viva Topics cost?

Published pricing: $4/month/user on an annual contract with eligible license subscriptions. We always recommend talking to your licensing specialist. Licensing is required for all Viva Topic Roles, including Topic Viewers.  

Who can set up Viva Topics?

You must be subscribed to Viva Topics and be a Global Microsoft 365 Admin to set up Viva Topics. 

Once Viva Topics is set up on your tenant, four roles can be assigned to users: 

Topic Viewers: Viewers, as their name implies, can view highlighted topics in SharePoint modern sites, Microsoft Search, and the topic center. 

Topic Contributors: Contributors can view topics, make updates or changes to existing topics, and create new ones. Essentially they are the curators of both AI or manually generated content.  

Knowledge Managers: This role is responsible for viewing Ai-suggested topics and confirming they’re accurate and valid. Knowledge managers are the gatekeepers of AI-driven topics; they are responsible for confirming, publishing, or removing AI-suggested topics.   

Knowledge Admins: These administrators set up and configure Viva Topics and can do things like determining which SharePoint Site will be crawled, which licensed viewers can view topics, and which topics should never be identified.  

How do I set up 
Viva Topics? 

Select ‘set up’ in the Microsoft 365 admin center, then view the files and content section, then “connect people to knowledge.” Here you can select which sites to crawl; you can also exclude specific topics and define who can see what. You must set a Topic Center, a modern SharePoint site. From here, you can further configure by:  

Managing topic discovery 

Manage Topic visibility 

Once you’ve created your topic center, you can assign users and manage permissions to assist in the creation, editing, and management of Topics.  

Pro tip: Create a security group for those who will be managing Topics, your team who will ensure the quality of the content. You’re investing a lot into a very complex tool, and you will likely need to assign a dedicated employee(s) to manage this.  

What features are available today?

AI-driven Discovery & Indexing  

AI-driven topic suggestions come from Viva Topics crawling your defined sites and information and grouping key types of information into Topics. The AI currently focuses on the following types of information, Project, Event, Organization, Location, Product, Creative work, and Field of study. The gotcha here is you must have enough content to take full advantage of this tool.   

Topic Center: A modern SharePoint site that acts as a center of knowledge for your organization. Here Knowledge Managers and Contributors can curate topics as well as refine and publish AI-suggested Topics.  

Topics are displayed in four ways currently:  

Topics highlighted on SharePoint pages 

Topic answers in search results 

Search in office applications 

Topic center home page 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do all users need licensing? 

Anyone who needs to view topic cards must have a license.  

What technology powers Viva Topics? 

Microsoft Graph, but truly your content powers it, and you need people to manage it.  

Can I pull in content and search outside of Microsoft 365? 

Not at this time, but they are adding connectors.  (link) 

Can Topic cards show outside of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem?  

Microsoft has said they plan to add APIs to enable topic cards to display on third-party apps.  

How can I protect/restrict sensitive data? 

In set up. Permissions and security trimming. That’s what’s beautiful about it, your content is maintained by the SharePoint security model.  

I installed Viva Topics but suggested topics I’m not seeing anything yet?  

Remember, it can take several days or up to 2 weeks to crawl your content.  

Does it crawl Teams & Yammer (Conversations) 
No, but it’s coming! 

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