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Microsoft VIVA Connections

Introduction

Working remotely has been on a steady upward trend and the COVID 19 pandemic pushed that trend into overdrive!  Government mandated office closures forced employers to make an immediate pivot to change operations to remote work.  Microsoft has been following the remote worker trend for some time and has conducted a substantial amount of research into how employees can better collaborate in this environment.  Due to the ramifications of the global pandemic, Microsoft has accelerated its timelines for online collaboration features and has extended its focus to the empowerment and engagement of remote workers.

Enter the Employee Experience Platform (EXP):  “An EXP is a digital platform that puts people at the center by bringing together systems of work with systems of support into an integrated employee experience.”

The graphic below illustrates typical areas that an employee needs to manage.


Source:Employee Experience Platform: A New Catagory Arrives

Microsoft has addressed this concept with its newest offering: Microsoft VIVA.

This is a Teams focused, employee experience platform (EXP) that combines communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and activity insights.

4 Core modules:

Viva Connections:Increases employee engagement.
Viva Insights:Provides activity statistics and recommends actions to help improve productivity and wellbeing. This even includes guided meditations!
Viva Topics:Surfaces employee areas of expertise.
Viva Learning:Provides centralizedlearning content to foster employee skill development.
This blog will focus on Viva Connections.
Viva Connections highlights:

  • Consists of a single customizable app that resides within Microsoft Teams desktop/web application (Mobile summer 2021). This provides a single environment that serves as a gateway to other content.
  • Provides an improved SharePoint Home app within Teams. Yammer communities and Stream for video are leveraged to increase content engagement.
  • Personalized news feed.
  • Seamless Teams integrated SharePoint home site.
  • Audience targeted content.
  • Extensible dashboards with Power Apps, SPFx, and some 3rd party applications.

More details:

Deployment

In order to deploy Microsoft Viva Connections to Teams, the following steps will need to be performed
Permissions: SharePoint Online and Teams Administrator

  1. Set up a SharePoint home site.
    • Download the latest SharePoint Online Management Shell.
    • Connect to SharePoint as a global admin or SharePoint admin in Microsoft 365.
    • Run the follow command Set-SPOHomeSite -HomeSiteUrl.
  2. Enable global navigation and customize navigational links.

SharePoint App Bar description

3.Download and run the Viva Connections PowerShell script.

  • Run script as Administrator

Required parameters

  • URL Path for the home site
    • Modern Communication site
  • The name of the app as it should appear in Teams
  • A short description of the app
  • A long description of the app
  • Privacy Policy link
    • Can use a Microsoft default policy
    • Can reside in a SharePoint site
  • Terms of Use Policy link
    • Can use a Microsoft default policy
    • Can reside in a SharePoint site
  • Company Name
  • Public web site link
  • Colored icon (192 X 192 pixels)
  • Transparent/monochrome icon (32 X 32 pixels)
    4. Script will generate a Teams app package and save to your desktop
    5. Upload the package in the Teams Admin Center
    6. Manage and pin the app by default for your usersNotes:
    • Only modern SharePoint sites and pages can be viewed within Teams and all other content will open in a browser.
    • Easier overall configuration and deployment experience will be added Summer 2021

    7. Deploy and Pin app for all users

    • Verify that it was installed properly

    Go to manage apps in the Teams Administration Center

    Search for App

    Review settings

    Deploy app organization wide

    Pinn app for all users

    OPTIONAL: Move to desired location for everyone’s Teams left navigation (Placement at the top is recommended)

    Global navigation
    Displays the top global navigation of the home site. This may seem duplicative; however, it is very useful when access via a mobile device.

    ** ONLY modern pages will render inside of Teams. Classic pages will open a new browser window) **
    SharePoint page right nav

    Copies Link to home page to clipboard

    Opens home page in the browser

    OPTIONAL:
    This dropdown will appear if you have multiple languages configured (Turned on via Homesite Site Settings)

    My sites
    Displays sites followed and recently or frequently visited by the user. This is a handy way of tracking where the user has been and provides a direct way to return to where he or she may have left off.

    My News
    This provides a list of all the news that the user has followed, and any articles recommended by the Microsoft Graph AI (published on the sites user has access to).

    My Files
    This displays all of the recent files created by the user across all SharePoint sites as well as OneDrive. This provides quick access to “work in progress” content.

    Search
    The search box at the top of the page enables search scoping:
    Teams scoped results

    SharePoint home site scoped results

    Dashboard

    The dashboard will provide curated content via adaptive cards. These will make place common tasks in a central location where employees can take action on the go using mobile devices. Additionally, the dashboard has the capacity to bring in Viva Insights and Learning areas. Being able to apply audience targeting is another power feature that further enhances content relevance to specific users. For example, front line employees will see content different cards vs. office workers.
    Microsoft provides some out of the box cards that can be used as a template for further customization based upon requirements.Cards can be created with custom development (SPfx) that can provide a powerful way to bring essential employee tools to the fore.

    Use cases:

    • Time off requests submissions
    • Expense reporting
    • Booking travel

    Desktop dashboard

    Mobile vs desktop experience

    Example of a Frontline worker mobile dashboard

    Summary

    Microsoft has gone all in with the concept of the Employee Experience Platform (EXP) with Viva. The ability to empower users with content specific to their activity and role within the organization will jump start productivity and reduce unnecessary administrative burden of searching and navigating in order to complete common tasks. Additionally, leveraging mobile devices enhances employee flexibility and eliminates the need to utilize a PC to complete designated common tasks. Welcome to the world of the Employee Experience Platform!

    For further reading:

    Microsoft Viva Overview
    Connections
    Insights
    Topics
    Learning

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