Microsoft Offers Prep Tips for Viva Engage August Rollout
Microsoft Viva Engage will start appearing for Microsoft Teams subscribers from "the end of August to the end of September," Microsoft announced on Wednesday.
Viva Engage is Microsoft's newest module added to the Microsoft Viva "employee experience platform." These Viva modules, or applications, get accessed using the Microsoft Teams collaboration service.
Viva Engage is billed as adding "consumer-like social networking" capabilities for workplaces, according to Microsoft during its Inspire event for partners, which took place this month. Notably, Viva Engage will be supplanting the current Yammer Communities app.
Viva Engage will automatically get added if organizations are using the Yammer Communities app. The switch to Viva Engage also will occur for organizations using the Yammer Communities apps on Android and iOS devices. However, the user experience on the mobile versions will be "largely the same," with users mostly just seeing a name-brand change.
Prep Tips for Viva Engage
Organizations using the Yammer Communities app mostly don't have to do anything to get Viva Engage, but Microsoft recommended in an FAQ document (Word doc download) that "if you do not have the Communities app installed yet, install it here." It's also possible to download the Yammer Communities app within Team's app store.
Microsoft had some specific advice for network administrators about preparing for Viva Engage. One recommendation is to ensure that Yammer "Native Mode" is used, as explained in this document. "In Native Mode, all Yammer users are in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), all groups are Microsoft 365 groups, and all files are stored in SharePoint Online."
Microsoft turned on Native Mode for all new Yammer Enterprise subscribers back in Jan. 2020, but some organizations may be using "Hybrid Mode," where not everything is native, or they may not follow Microsoft's conventions at all, which Microsoft calls "Non-Native Mode."
One example of Non-Native Mode is organizations using Yammer Basic subscriptions. These Non-Native Mode users aren't connected to Microsoft 365 or Office 365 services.
Microsoft offers a Native Mode Alignment Tool to help IT pros automate the process of aligning to Native Mode, if wanted.
Using Native Mode currently isn't a requirement for using Viva Engage, but it likely will become one, per Microsoft's announcement:
While this [Native Mode] is not required to use Viva Engage, it's highly recommended for your organization to get your Yammer network into Native Mode. As we continue to build new functionality, having your Yammer network in native mode will be a requirement.
IT pros can set the Yammer Communities app to be "pinned on the left rail in Microsoft Teams" in preparation for the Viva Engage replacement, according to the FAQ, although it didn't explain why a left alignment would be optimal. It pointed to this support document on the Yammer Communities app, as well as this document, which contains a description for setting up Teams policies to pin apps.
Same APIs, Yammer Licensing
The same Yammer APIs will be used with the Viva Engage launch, according to the FAQ. Using Viva Engage will require "having the same licensing as Yammer," but Microsoft likely will require additional licensing as it adds to the Viva Engage product.
"New functionality to Viva Engage may require additional licensing [besides Yammer licensing] in the future," the FAQ indicated.
Yammer conversations done in the Yammer Communities app will still be available after the Viva Engage switch, the FAQ document promised. Viva Engage also will be integrated with the Outlook Web App.
Microsoft is planning to offer further advice and answer questions about the transition to Viva Engage. That'll be happening in two upcoming Best Practice online sessions, which are scheduled for Aug. 2.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.