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Viva Connections: What your intranet really wants to be

Microsoft previously this month announced Microsoft Viva, a fresh integrated Employee Experience System (EXP) that includes communications, knowledge, learning, assets, and insights inand delivers them via Microsoft Groups. You can find four modules: Viva Topics, Viva Insights, Viva Learning, and Viva Connections. Whilst every organization may not use all modules, or every factor of every module, Microsoft Viva contains something for each organization.

I’m thrilled about all the areas of Microsoft Viva. I really like the way the modules are built-in, secure, people-centric, and made to be shipped in Microsoft Teams. Among the best components is usually that the branding and classification of Viva being an EXP facilitates a discussion between IT, HR, and Communications. It can help each one of these departments believe more holistically concerning the worth they can gather – and movements the intranet discussion to spotlight employee experience a lot more comprehensively.

Many organizations did so for a long time, but I’ve seen so many where this conversation doesn’t happen – due to the fact different departments nevertheless work within silos and aren’t centered on the holistic employee electronic experience. It is a huge worth proposition for Microsoft Viva since it concretely demonstrates the worthiness of “better collectively” inside every organization – not only with Microsoft technology. Each element is great, and together, they’re better still.

Here, I would like to concentrate on why your intranet, in case a voice could be experienced by it, really wants to leverage the capabilities within Viva Connections.

Getting ready regarding Viva Connections

One of the factors many intranet tasks fail is that companies place an excessive amount of emphasis on communications rather than enough on function integration. Great intranets aren’t about building sites that mimic the business chart (who we have been and what we perform) and delivering news. An excellent intranet is approximately creating encounters and providers that assist everyone in the business do their job.

Because the ongoing services which are needed by various kinds of people within an organization may differ, the very best intranets deliver each services and news geared to each kind of service consumer – predicated on our function, our geography, our function group, or our interests. Is Viva Connections likely to do that for you personally magically? Unfortunately, no. Nevertheless, you can create it do the job if you prepare yourself by doing the next:

  • Understanding your organizational priorities.
  • Understanding the critical internal services in your company and the info that supports these services, including descriptions, forms, policies, procedures, applications, contacts, and training.
  • Understanding your key user roles or personas and the info and services each one of these needs to achieve success.
  • Defining the info architecture (sites, navigation, pages, and metadata) and audience groups to aid the services.
  • Planning governance, including content accountability and management.
  • Implementing ongoing learning opportunities to make sure that everyone gets the right knowledge and skills to reach your goals.
  • Building your intranet in SharePoint and making certain you’ve got a home site.

What to expect

Viva Connections doesn’t create the intelligent intranet for you personally; it offers the infrastructure to provide your intranet to your users in the context of where they’re probably already working – Microsoft Teams – and creates a framework for extending your intranet and rendering it better. Could it be the “home site app in Teams” promised at Ignite 2020? Yes, but it’s a lot more than that.

To raised understand Viva Connections, I’ve tried to learn every Microsoft post, and watch all of the videos and pay attention to as much interviews and podcasts when i can. I reached out to Omar Shahine also, vice president of product, Microsoft 365 – SharePoint and OneDrive, to clarify things. While Viva Connections includes features that exist in SharePoint directly, in addition, it includes native Teams apps which will only work in Microsoft Teams. I expect more specific examples at Microsoft Ignite next week.

Here is how I am aware sun and rain of Viva Connections:

The Personalized Feed

The feed was created to deliver a curated, personalized feed of important news, conversations, and communities (i.e. Yammer). Curation implies that content authors have to learn how to target content – also it means IT must be sure that relevant audiences can be found. This is a significant reason why it really is so critically vital that you understand your key organizational information “audiences” in your intranet planning.

You need to create the required Azure Active Directory Groups beforehand and train content authors and curators to utilize targeting if they create news along with other information to reduce the noise in each person’s feed. News features announced at Ignite 2020, like the capability to “boost” news in the feed until it’s been viewed or for a particular date or amount of impressions, help make sure that authoritative news is prioritized. I don’t believe you will need Viva Connections to see “boosted” news, however the personalized feed includes a lot more than simply SharePoint news (what’s already shown in the personalized news on the SharePoint start page). The feed differs from the prevailing My Feed web part in SharePoint, that is driven by signals in the Microsoft Graph as well as your activity.

The feed in Viva Connections is more centered on SharePoint News, Yammer Announcements, along with other “announcement-style” information.

The Dashboard

The Dashboard is really a new experience that delivers a framework for presenting targeted apps to users – for instance, SharePoint or teams Framework apps, video and images, or URLs. The dashboard tiles can either link an individual to the app experience or deliver the knowledge in the dashboard itself (such as for example when submitting a period off request). The dashboard apps feel a whole lot just like the home screen widgets in iOS 14 – and SharePoint web parts, for that matter.

The thought of having “snippets” of application code delivered in the context of an intranet is hardly new. But many intranet solutions don’t evolve to the real point where these apps are delivered. I’m hoping the dashboard offers a simplified method of creating and delivering these app widgets by non-developers. (Shahine  promised it’ll be like creating a SharePoint page “just. It has me very excited to start to see the experience!) I discover the naming just a little confusing here; it might be easier for me to describe the complete experience as a dashboard and the widgets as Resources in the Dashboard – but that’s just me.

Resources

Considering the screenshots and GIFs provided from Microsoft and Seth Patton’s post introducing Viva Connections, Resources in Viva Connections include (or could include) a number of things:

  • Pinned resources. I don’t know whether they are things you pin or the business pins in your stead.
  • Recently opened SharePoint sites.
  • Global navigation links from the real home site.
  • Links to your top Yammer communities and ways to see all communities.
  • Links to your top video playlists and a genuine solution to see all video playlists.

This is where I’d like more clarification, because when you have resources that employees need on a regular basis and you also haven’t already targeted them in your global intranet navigation, you will need to return and re-think your global nav probably. That said, it feels as though Resources provides a method of “boosting” these things in the Teams experience from an app perspective. Exploring the global navigation often means plenty of scrolling to access key resources you will need each day – like submitting a cost report – or that the business really wants to make more visible, like the latest COVID-19 policy update.

What it looks like

I grabbed this screenshot from the video on the Microsoft Viva Connections for leaders page and added my very own annotations. This is actually the one screenshot where I could see all the components of Microsoft Viva in a single place, and the desktop is showed because of it experience in Teams.

Viva Connections detail Microsoft
Viva Connections in Microsoft Teams.
  1. This is essentially the hyperlink to the “home site app in Teams” branded with your personal name and logo. You can call the app the real name of one’s company or the name of one’s intranet. This is how you have Viva Connections; it isn’t branded “Viva Connections,” it’s branded with a name and colors you select. When you click on the app link, you start to see the true home page of one’s intranet. The example shows a genuine home page using what appears like a vertical section. I’m uncertain whether this can be a special section only visible in Teams or whether these same elements are curated in SharePoint in the browser and just delivered in Teams.
  2. This may be the navigation on the house site of one’s intranet, that is likely providing the foundation for the global navigation. Spot the “My SharePoint” connect to the SharePoint start page that you will get when you enable the house site. You don’t get any “automatic” navigation once you deploy the real home site. This is a thing that your details architect should design predicated on understanding your company and tested together with your users before deploying. I design intranet global navigation experiences within might work – and and soon you test thoroughly your proposed navigation with real users, you won’t realize what’s missing or must be adjusted.
  3. These will be the Dashboard apps your organization has targeted and designed for the logged-in user.
  4. This is where in fact the personalized feed could be added to your house site. This is obtainable in the browser along with Teams.
  5. This shows another Teams apps which are section of Microsoft Viva: Insights, Learning, and Topics.
  6. This looks like the news headlines web part in SharePoint, shown utilizing the Tiles layout with the four most-recent stories featured. THE NEWS HEADLINES web part which layout aren’t new – and you may opt for this layout on your own intranet (or any) website today.

What does it cost?

It’s not yet determined how Viva Connections will be priced, but from what I’ve heard and read, it’s not likely to be 100% free. Here’s what I understand so far:

  • Viva Topics can be an add-on to existing Microsoft 365 licenses and pricing is listed at $5 user/month and requires an annual commitment.
  • Insights can be acquired as a free of charge personal app in Microsoft Teams today. The advanced tools and integrations described at the launch announcement for Viva Insights need a license for Microsoft Workplace Analytics.
  • Viva Learning includes integration with third-party services like Pluralsight, Skillsoft, and SAP SuccessFactors, that have their very own licensing model; it’s not yet determined whether you will see free areas of Viva Learning (for instance, the integration with Microsoft Learn content).
  • Viva Connections pricing (if any) is really a mystery. There could be pricing for elements in the Dashboard that leverage premium connectors like the pricing for Power Automate, but I hope that the capability to deliver a house site in Teams won’t require yet another fee. Beyond that, we will need to wait until Ignite for more information.

More ahead at Ignite

Hopefully, you’re convinced you’ll want to plan to benefit from Viva Connections, only if to create your intranet (and most of its users) happy! Microsoft is tweeting sufficient teases to create it clear you are likely to want to take part in Microsoft Ignite. I will post more when i learn more, and I’m sure the dialogue shall continue once we get to try the connective tissue in Viva Connections.

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