Microsoft SharePoint Syntex – what is it?

SharePoint Syntex was added to the Microsoft Product Terms in October 2020 – but what is it?

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Project Cortex

First of all – we need to consider Project Cortex. This is a Microsoft program to weave Artificial Intelligence (AI) into a range of their products to help users and serves as something of an “umbrella”. SharePoint Syntex is the first product “from” Project Cortex but there are clear plans from Microsoft for several more to follow.

What does SharePoint Syntex do?

Introducing the concept of “topic centers”, SharePoint Syntex aims to automatically replicate the way that humans process documents including recognizing content, extracting information, and applying metadata tags. It works across Office docs, PDFs, and images and is another example of Microsoft’s move towards Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – alongside their advances with the Power Platform and Microsoft 365 E3.

For organisations processing a lot of data within documents – such as CVs, proposals, articles etc. – this could represent a new way for them to work smarter, not harder. Utilising AI to perform many of these tasks will free up human users for higher value projects. Microsoft are working on connectors to enable organisations to pull data from 3rd party systems into the Microsoft Graph and then utilise it within SharePoint Syntex.

At launch, it only supports English and Microsoft plan to add additional languages “in 2021”. They do say however, that you can create bespoke “topics” in any language and that certain functions, such as processing forms content, are language agnostic.

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SharePoint Syntex is available as an add-on license for commercial Microsoft 365 customers and costs $5 per user per month. It appears to be available for the Microsoft 365 Business SKUs as well as the Enterprise suites.

Anyone who will be “using, consuming, or otherwise benefitting from” the capabilities of SharePoint Syntex will need a license. Microsoft list out a range of scenarios that require licenses including where users:

  • Access a Content Center
  • Create a document understanding model in a Content Center
  • Upload content to a library where a document understanding model is associated (whether in a Content Center or elsewhere)
  • Manually execute a document understanding model
  • View a library where a document understanding model is associated
  • Create a forms processing model via the entry point in a SharePoint library
  • Upload content to a library where a forms processing model is associated
  • View a library where a forms processing model is associated

This creates a whole new set of circumstances for organisations to become under-licensed and to have those wonderful, bordering on the philosophical conversations with Microsoft like “What IS the definition of benefiting?”, “What exactly is a “capability”?” etc 😁

Further Reading

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