ClearPeople helps Northumbrian Water tap the fountain of knowledge with Viva Topics and Syntex
Published Jul 14 2021 08:06 AM 31.1K Views

It’s been an exciting year for Microsoft Viva Topics, and our community. From our preview program through our February 2021 launch and beyond, we’re honored to see so many customers and partners put knowledge to work with Viva. 


This week at Microsoft Inspire we’re sharing news about how we’re helping partners deliver solutions for Microsoft Viva, and how our customers are succeeding with our partners.


Knowledge is vital for employee experience – but water itself is essential to life. Northumbrian Water Limited (NWL) provides water and sewage services to over 4.4 million people in the UK and aims to be the most innovative water company in the country.


With Viva Topics, employees at NWL can now identify assets, construction projects, and even processes for the work they do, without leaving the applications they’re in or running a massive search query.


And using the power of AI, Northumbrian Water is teaching SharePoint Syntex how to recognize specific drawings – including maps of infrastructure – so they can capture key information from the drawings, record it, and make it easier for experts across the organization to find.  They’re projecting a return on their investment of £50 million over the next 3 years.


ClearPeople, a Preferred Partner in our Microsoft Content Services Partner Program has been with NWL and Microsoft on every step of their journey, helping NWL envision, pilot, and rollout Syntex and Viva Topics to thousands of staff across the UK. ClearPeople builds their Atlas solution on top of Microsoft 365 to accelerate the transformation of NWL’s digital workplaces and employee experiences.  

Learn more about NWL's journey with Viva Topics and Syntex.


Custom development and extensibility

Microsoft 365 opens multiple paths to knowledge discovery. Partners and customers alike are using Viva Topics to help organizations like NWL and more. Viva Topics provides both a great experience out of the box and a great way to customize and tailor your experiences.


With Viva Topics, you can customize topic centers and topic pages, and integrate solutions built using the SharePoint Framework. Tools and techniques used for branding, styling, or composing web parts for SharePoint can also be used to extend Viva Topics.


Remote content can by integrated to Microsoft Search with Microsoft Graph content connectors, with over 130 sources published by Microsoft and our partners, and an API to let you build your own. By year end, remote sources like ServiceNow and MediaWiki will be integrated natively into Viva Topics. And you can further enrich content for knowledge discovery in Microsoft Search and Viva Topics using Syntex and the Syntex APIs.


Viva Topics in Microsoft Teams and Viva Connections             

You can also extend Viva Topics to Microsoft 365 experiences like Microsoft Teams and Viva Connections. The topics web part provides an easy and flexible way to add Viva Topics to any web page in SharePoint, Teams, or Viva Connections. And of course, topic highlights and cards are available through the Connections app in Microsoft Teams.

Topics in Viva ConnectionsTopics in Viva Connections


Want another easy way to add Viva Topics to Microsoft Teams?  Just pin the topic center to the left rail as an app in Teams. We have a simple script you can run to generate a Teams app from any internal site – including your topic center.  All you need to supply are icons for the app and a title. We originally built the script for Viva Connections, and it works for any portal site hosted in SharePoint – including the Viva topic center.

Viva topic center in Microsoft TeamsViva topic center in Microsoft Teams


We’re continuing to develop even more integrations for Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Yammer, and more, and we’ll share updates on the Microsoft 365 public roadmap.


Product updates

We’ve heard your feedback – many of you want more ways to manage the flow of knowledge around your organization. Here are three updates to help you share the right knowledge for your teams.


Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) labeling

Viva Topics fully respects file permissions. Users can’t use Viva Topics to discover content where they don’t have permissions. But what about files shared with overly broad permissions – intentionally or accidentally?


That’s where Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) can help. MIP sensitivity labels can be used to set access control policies for content, such as sharing, download prevention, and watermarking. Soon, you’ll be able to exclude labeled content from Viva Topics even if the content is widely shared. Sensitive content labeled as Highly Confidential, for example, can be automatically shielded for Viva Topics. And because MIP labels can now be automatically set by SharePoint Syntex, you can combine Syntex and Topics to provide multilayer security for sensitive content indexed by Viva, even if users share documents broadly, or don’t set a sensitivity label.

MIP label configuration in Viva TopicsMIP label configuration in Viva Topics


This feature will begin roll out in July 2021, and is being tracked on the Microsoft 365 public roadmap under ID 82047 and 82048.


SharePoint Syntex taxonomy integration

Today, you can use taxonomy services in Microsoft 365 to provide centralized hierarchies of terms for documents and list items. Taxonomy has been enhanced as part of the Syntex rollout. This summer, you’ll be able to select terms and term sets from the taxonomy service to initiate creation of Viva topics, using the term definitions and tagged files. And as Syntex creates discovers new terms and content and adds those to the term store, those terms can also be used to generate topics for Viva.


This feature will begin roll out in July 2021.


Multi-geo support

You can already process content in the home region for your organization as well as query from any region. Microsoft Viva Topics also supports region moves. Now, we’re extending  indexing and processing locally to each data region, according to data sovereignty standards.


This feature will start to roll out in late July, and is being tracked on the Microsoft 365 public roadmap under ID 82044.


User opt-in as suggested experts

Viva Topics can also identify suggested experts to display on topic cards and pages. Some of our customers’ governance and privacy standards allow users to control being displayed as potentially associated with the topic. For these circumstances, you’ll be able to empower users to opt-in to be added to topic pages and cards. This feature will begin roll out in July 2021.


Check back with us next month to see what new capabilities and features we’ve added to Viva Topics. You can visit the Microsoft 365 Public Roadmap for a full view of what’s coming soon to Microsoft Viva.  And to read about recent enhancements to SharePoint Syntex, check out our SharePoint Syntex Blog. Thanks.

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