Technical Review of Viva Connections

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What is Microsoft Viva? 

Announced during Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft Viva is an employee experience platform that brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources and insights. With Viva, businesses can foster a culture where people and teams are empowered to be their best from anywhere. Microsoft Viva includes four main modules: Topics, Connections, Learning and Insights. These modules work together to provide a new platform that drives knowledge management, employee engagement, training and education. They also provide deep data-driven analysis on the effectiveness and productivity of content within the enterprise.   

Viva Topics 

Viva Topics provides new functionality to define keyword topics and allow the AI scanning to work behind the scenes in the M365 tenant to scan allowed content and populate curated results. These results can be viewed on a generated SharePoint modern page for the defined “topic”. Topic Contributors can further customize the “Topic Page” to include Subject Matter Experts, displayed as a People card, curated results from SharePoint Online, Yammer and Teams files, pages and chats. This gives employees a whole new experience. 

Viva Learning 

Viva Learning creates a central hub for learning in Teams where people can discover, share, assign, and learn from content libraries across their organization to empower teams and individuals to make learning a natural part of their day. Currently, in public preview, Viva Learning enables employees to pursue online training without disruption. This helps encourage a work culture of growth that helps employees reach their potential. 

Viva Insights – (Personal, Manager and Organizational) 

You can view Personal insights that show how you work and what can be changed so that you are doing your best work. These insights can only be seen by you and provide useful recommendations that help improve your wellbeing while boosting productivity. Manager insights provide visibility into work patterns that might lead to burnout and stress. These include regular after-hours work, meeting overload, or too little focus time. Managers can use these insights to help their teams balance productivity and wellbeing. Organizational insights help business leaders  address critical questions about organizational resiliency and work culture, with insight into how work impacts their people and their business. 

What is Viva Connections? 

Viva Connections provides a consistent global navigation app bar in the Teams desktop and mobile apps.

Many companies have relied on Teams as their primary enterprise communications platform. By further enhancing Teams to integrate a SharePoint Intranet portal directly within the Teams desktop and mobile app UI, employees can access necessary content and company information all within the context of Teams. With all the disruption of the COVID pandemic, companies were forced to find a way to support and stay productive remotely, so accessing official corporate resources while staying in the Teams app became a key need.  

Companies spend a lot of time and effort in supporting their corporate intranets. For large corporations who used another web platform or content management system to host and manage their on-premises intranet, migrating to SharePoint Online already provided challenges both regarding content ownership as well as diminishing value from an internal communications standpoint. Being able to integrate a corporate intranet directly into the Teams app is not just a simple connection, Microsoft is driving home the goal of making Teams the primary collaboration app for all information workers. Also, by utilizing the functionality available in SharePoint Online and Microsoft Graph, corporations can leverage these technologies to provide a fresh approach to the traditional intranet portal. 

How to Set Up Viva Connections 

Viva requires an additional per-user license on top of existing Microsoft 365 licensing. To set up Viva Connections or use Viva Insights an additional license is NOT, but to enable Viva Topics and Viva Learning does require a license. The Viva Topics and Viva Learning modules are the main features of Microsoft Viva, whereas Viva Connections provides the portal integration into Teams while Viva Insights provides the back-end IT admin monitoring of Viva Topics and Viva Learning.

Modern SharePoint Online global app bar 

Graphical user interface, website Description automatically generated

For modern SharePoint Online site templates, you may have noticed the global app bar, which will appear on the left pane but ONLY for modern SharePoint Online sites. The new global app bar features provide the fundamental navigation panel for Viva Connections and only the top “home” icon is configurable. The “Sites”, “News” and “Files” icons and related pop-up links are generated automatically by Microsoft Graph. These are the same results and app bar users will see when accessing OneDrive or their “SharePoint” app icon from a user’s M365 Office “home” page (https://portal.office.com).

Graphical user interface, application Description automatically generated

Setting the tenant “Homesite” 

Each SharePoint Online tenant can ONLY have one “homesite”. The tenant “homesite” does NOT have to be the portal site but really can be any modern site collection. Currently, the SharePoint Online tenant “homesite” can only be set via PowerShell, but by Q4 2021, Microsoft expects to have a UI setting available in the SPO Admin Center to set the “homesite” site collection. 

To set the “homesite” via PowerShell, the PowerShell command does have to be run by a SharePoint Online service administrator by running the following code from a PowerShell command-line prompt (*the SharePoint Online PowerShell module must first be loaded): 

 
Connect-SPOServer -Url <<SPO admin URL>>

 

Set-SPOHomeSite -HomeSiteUrl <<URL of designated “home site”>>

 

#if necessary

 

Set-SPOTemporarilyDisableAppBar $false

 

Creating the Viva Connections app package file 

Microsoft has provided a PowerShell script to generate the necessary app package ZIP file, which includes the manifest file and two customizable icon images (large icon 192×192 pixels and small icon 32×32 pixels) 

[Viva Connection app package PowerShell script

This PowerShell script must be run as a SharePoint Online administrator account because it will connect to the SPO Admin URL. The script will create a Teams app package ZIP file, which will need to be uploaded to the Teams Admin Center portal. Running the PowerShell script will prompt you to provide a name, description and select large and small icons for your Viva Connection app. The next step is to upload the ZIP file to the Teams admin center portal (https://admin.teams.microsoft.com) and upload the ZIP file by navigating to the “Teams app > Manage apps” from the left-hand menu. Then, click the “Upload” button and browse to upload the app package ZIP file. 

 

After uploading the Viva Connection app package, it is time to add the Viva Connection app and pin the app to the global app bar. After the Viva Connection app has been successfully uploaded, click on “Teams app > Manage apps > Setup policies > Global (org-wide default)” or whatever the default policy is for your Teams tenant.  On the default policy page, click the “+ Add apps” button, search for the newly added Viva Connection app name that you named your app, click “Add”. To move your Viva Connection app to the top of the global pinned apps, select the Viva Connection app, then click the “Move Up” button in the “Pinned apps” list to move the app to the top.  

 

After making changes to the display order of pinned apps in your Microsoft Teams desktop and mobile client apps, it may take a few hours for these changes to propagate to all the Teams clients. 

Your Intranet is now in Microsoft Teams 

Now your internal intranet resources are in Microsoft Teams, where it is easier to share, collaborate and chat all in one place. 

  1. Highlight specific resources: custom-curated global navigation links to official corporate resources are available directly inside Microsoft Teams, along with sites, news, and files. 
  2. Navigate intranet resources in Teams: You can navigate to SharePoint Online modern pages using the Viva Connection app within the context of Teams. 
  3. Search for intranet content in Teams: On the home site page, when you search in the Teams search bar, the search results are from the SharePoint Online home site. 
  4. Share content easily: Sites, lists/libraries and files links from Viva Connections can now be shared directly within Teams much easier 
 

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