During Ignite 2020, Microsoft announced the Viva Connections (formerly known as the Home site app) for Microsoft Teams. The app provides users a single-entry point to your organization’s Intranet straight from Teams. The app’s name and icon are fully customizable so organizations can match them to their branding. It also provides a multi-level navigation that lets people find SharePoint sites across the organization, including portals, teams, communities, and applications. With a broader set of features shared between SharePoint and Teams, Microsoft is aiming to provide a truly connected employee experience across both platforms.
Living in Teams? Now, so does your intranet!
In this blog post we’ll try to cover the most important topics around the app and some FAQ.
- When: March 2021
- How: Setup the new Home site app
- What: Bring your Intranet directly into Teams!
- No code, simple setup
- Fully Integrated Intranet Search
- Boost collaboration on your Intranet content
- Truly Global Navigation panel
- Full-fledged coauthoring experience
No code, simple setup
To achieve a similar level of functionality, previously you would have to create your own standalone app with the Teams App Studio to serve for Intranet Portal.
In addition to the more complex setup, there are many limitations of the Standalone App which resulted in quite a subpar user experience. Some of those drawbacks are the lack of support for:
- Intranet Search
- Header and Mega Menu
- Edge to Edge consumption experience
This is where the new Home site app comes into play to fill those gaps. We see the new Home site app as a big improvement for organizations wanting to get the best of both worlds straight out-of-the-box.
Fully Integrated Intranet Search
While searching for something straight from the Search bar in Teams, you would get suggestions from your Intranet, too. This is now a truly tenant-wide Intranet search.
Clicking on a suggested result takes will take you straight into the Results Center, while making sure any investments your organization has made in customizations are fully available to the users in Teams, too.
Boost collaboration on your Intranet content
It’s now a breeze to grab some Intranet content and share it with colleagues that might find that useful, too. It’s as easy as clicking on the Share button while consuming content in Teams to get a link copied to your clipboard.
Paste the link in a chat with a colleague or in a Teams channel and the result would be the link transformed into a beautiful adaptive card with rich information context.
Clicking on it, the reader will be taken to the same view that you’ve had, a full-screen view, that Microsoft refers to as Staged view, right in Teams which offers an immersive experience, emphasizing the main content without distracting the users with unnecessary headers. This is a great way to foster collaboration on content based in your Intranet, that was just not possible before.
Truly Global Navigation panel
The goal of the Global Navigation panel is to provide users with quick access to company-curated resources important sits and news. To access that panel, just click on your company’s icon on the Home site app. You will be presented with a list of company-curated resources like Organizational structure, HR site or what you find relevant to present to all employees. These resources are configured only once, in SharePoint and usually handled by your Communications teams. If there is audience targeting applied to any of these resources, those will be respected in Teams, too.
Below the Company-curated resources, the Global Navigation panel presents you with sites and news, most relevant to you. That makes it super easy to find information from across your Intranet without leaving Teams.
Full-fledged coauthoring experience
Whether you’d just like a video that you’ve just played in full-screen or contribute to an Office document straight from Teams, that’s all just a click away.
You see an interesting PowerPoint document on your Intranet, click on it and it will load up in Teams naturally, without any prompts or additional sign-in screens. It doesn’t get any easier than this.
How to get started?
The configuration experience is built-in in your Home site, all you have to do is go to your Home site -> Site Settings -> Create Home site app. You’ll be prompted to provide just a few details like your organization’s name and logo.
Once you do that, the app will be automatically packaged and provisioned in the Teams Admin Center. In the Teams Admin Center, we suggest that you take advantage of the App Setup policies to pin the app by default for your users. You can also target the app to specific audience in your organization if you have an advanced scenario that requires that.
What kind of sites can be pinned as a Home site app in Teams?
Communication sites that are set as Home Sites are available for pinning in Teams. Modern Team sites and any classic sites won’t be supported.
How are the Global Navigation links managed?
The Global Navigation is managed by the Home site owners, hence not relying on a single person like a Microsoft 365 Global Administrator for that task.
Can the content of the landing page be targeted?
Yes, you can target the content based on a variety of user properties like role, department, location etc.
What is difference between Home site app and Home page pinned as tab?
The Home site app provides organizations to pin company branded entry point to their Intranet as a top-level app in Teams. It provides an immersive site consumption experience, complete with navigation, mega-menus, and support for tenant wide search. It also provides quick access to company curated resources, important sites, and news like those provided by the SharePoint App Bar in the web. Home pages (or any other SharePoint pages) pinned as tabs in Channels provide ways to bring content directly into Team collaboration scenarios, and these pages have navigation and search elements removed to facilitate focus on the page content itself.
Do you need a Home site app for the Global navigation to show up in Teams?
Yes, the global navigation links are living in the Home site of a tenant, and it is required for the navigation panel to appear in the Home site app in Teams.
With the new Home site app, you will be able to integrate your intranet based on SharePoint Online right into Teams with a few clicks. The new Microsoft app’s icon and name match your company brand and enable employees to discover, navigate and consume your top sites in Teams. The Home site app gives users a window into the rest of the company intranet by using the same global navigation as the SharePoint app bar. If you are the type of user spending your day in Teams, you don’t need to switch apps, SharePoint is just a click away. Your users would love the fact that they can discover and engage with Intranet content while staying within Teams. A simple, yet powerful innovation that lets you marry your SharePoint Online Intranet with Microsoft Teams. The Home site app is just around the corner, with expected availability in March this year.
To read about other innovations that were announced at the latest Ignite conference, read our 9 Innovationsbereiche in Microsoft Teams (Ignite 2020 Nachrichtenüberblick) blog post. If you are rolling out Teams just now or you have deployed it already, make sure you know what your steps to proper Teams Governance are. If you’re looking for an expert help on your Digital Workplace project or Microsoft Teams project of any kind, we at Impactory would be more than happy to help!
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