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Retirement of Viva Topics
Copilot,  Microsoft 365,  SharePoint Online

Goodbye Viva Topics

Microsoft announced that Viva Topics will be retired and disabled in February 2025. So, what is the plan for knowledge management after this announcement of the retirement of Viva Topics?

Retirement of Viva Topics

This may come as a shock to some organizations who have invested considerable amount of time and effort in building out the knowledge management solution that is Viva Topics. However, it is undeniable that Microsoft has shifted their Artificial Intelligence (AI) attention to Microsoft Copilot and Copilot in Microsoft 365. This transition left out the functionality enhancements that were needed in Viva Topics to continue the platform growth.

Microsoft has been clear that there will be no new development on Viva Topics and all resources focused on enhancements have been retargeted to other platforms and services within Microsoft. While the retirement of Viva topics is not until February 2025, it is important for organizations to start planning now for the future of knowledge management within their organization.

What is Happening with Viva Topics Content

In February 2025, the Viva Topics Center will be converted to a standard SharePoint site automatically. This means the site will gain the same governance and administration functionality that any other SharePoint site has. This also means the site content will be on the same authoritative ‘level' as every other SharePoint site in your organization. This is important to keep in mind – more on that later in this article. It will be very important to double check the security and access to this site once the conversion takes place. You will need to make sure that everyone in the organization that has been using Viva Topics for knowledge will have access to read the pages.

Topic pages that users have created will turn into regular SharePoint pages. Of course, these new SharePoint pages will not get the AI improvements from Viva Topics. Users can still make changes and post updates as they would with any other SharePoint page.

Viva Topics Lost Functionality

For me, there are two major benefits to knowledge management within an organization that Viva Topics filled well. The first is centralized management of topics that allowed knowledge managers within an organization to curate content with the help of AI. The future for knowledge management will be less centralized and have more work involved for Knowledge Managers, without the help of AI in the current capacity.

The second major use for Viva Topics was the ability to create topics to show for users in their flow of work. We are also losing the capability of topics automatically appearing in various locations across Microsoft 365. Those suggestions currently show up in Microsoft search, when mentioned within content on SharePoint pages, Outlook emails, conversations within Microsoft Teams, and more. There is no planned replacement for this functionality, and it had the most promise to become revolutionary in content enhancement for Knowledge Managers.

Moving Forward After Viva Topics

Microsoft's current plan for replacing Viva Topics functionality includes SharePoint, Viva Engage, and Copilot. This triad of services will look to fill the shoes of the central knowledge management tool that organizations have relied on.

Viva Topics Retirement Party
Generative AI created image for a ‘Viva Topics Retirement Party'. Yes, I know the banner is misspelled – what a better way to show that AI has its flaws!

SharePoint

SharePoint will become the platform for all topics moving forward. This makes complete sense and probably should have been the method of creation and storage in the from the beginning. It will be up to organizations to create their own experiences in SharePoint rather than relying on Microsoft's provided functionality on pages. If you had the impression that centralized knowledge in SharePoint might be going away, this will help prove that notion wrong.

Viva Engage

One change we have already seen and mentioned on the 365 Message Center Show, Viva Engage is going to revert to a simplified public topics model. This means users will be able to create topics inside Viva Engage, add them to posts, find content with these topics, and add them to Answers for example. This does not rely on a centralized managed model, like Viva Topics, and will set up scenarios in organizations where multiple Viva Engage topics will be created that mean the same thing – e.g., #HR, #HumanResources, #People, #PeopleManagement, etc. It will help align the hashtag experience across the Viva platform, as it has always been confusing when Viva Topics use them in one way and Viva Engage used them in another.

Copilot for Microsoft 365

The most powerful weapon in combating the knowledge management black hole is Microsoft Copilot. Using generative AI to find and create content, I believe, is going to revolutionize the way organizations function. However, specifically talking about knowledge management, this shifts the responsibility from Knowledge Managers to everyday users. When finding content, users will need discernment and advanced knowledge to determine if content returned by Copilot is legitimate. Hallucinations of generative AI have been experienced by many in the past and we are going to be relying on users to understand if the content that is returned by Copilot is valid. I will address this and more in my upcoming workshop at TechCon365 in Seattle titled Content Management for the AI Era. I would love to have you join me – make sure to select my workshop when registering.

Future of Knowledge Managers

A big question for me – and every organization – is What is the future of knowledge managers with the decentralization of knowledge content and the rise of AI? With every user having access to Copilot technology, it is as if every user will become their own knowledge manager. But who is in charge of making sure that old content is cleaned up, the correct content is tagged as authoritative, and makes sure that content that is created is valid moving forward? I do not believe the same person, or one group does all of that. This is truly an indication that organizations need to change the way they work to adapt.

The retirement of Viva Topics is not the cause of this rethinking and need for adapting, it is just another effect of the grow growing emphasis on generative AI-powered experiences.

 

 

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