In late 2020, Microsoft released SharePoint Syntex. A Microsoft 365 content service, SharePoint Syntex adds Artificial Intelligence content service capabilities to SharePoint document libraries, creating content understanding models that automatically classify the many and various documents in those libraries. Essentially SharePoint Syntex enables businesses to efficiently use the information stored in its documents.
Right now, as a global tightening of the belt takes place, anything that optimises your organisation’s ability to make the most of its hard-earned collective intelligence and to improve productivity, is going to be attracting greater attention.
(Ha. Who would have thought that SharePoint document libraries would become a sexy tech topic – again?)
In this blog:
SharePoint Syntex is a content understanding, processing and compliance service that uses AI and machine training to automatically organise and classify documents in your SharePoint library. This is also sometimes referred to as a content intelligence service or Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) and the effect is to transform your data into knowledge.
Simply put, SharePoint Syntex is a Microsoft 365 content service that helps organisations by:
Organisations store and handle high volumes of documents and forms; everything from contracts and billing statements to inquiries, applications and more.
Most companies struggle to make sense of these vast troves of information effectively; it’s a major challenge to efficiently extract key knowledge and put that knowledge to good use. And while they’re figuring that out, thousands of new documents are being added to the stack.
Infographic: How much data is generated each day?
Many organisations already use SharePoint to store large collections of documents, housing them in hundreds or even thousands of document libraries within SharePoint sites and Microsoft Teams. Each of these documents has potentially valuable information hidden inside them – and SharePoint Syntex is the service that allows them to mine that gold.
SharePoint Syntex enhances SharePoint’s capabilities by automating the process of extracting key information from documents. This is done by using pre-defined SharePoint Syntex models which are effectively AI Machine Teaching models.
Once a model is created, it can be published to one or more document libraries, automating the process of extracting document metadata. This not only saves time and money, but also increases the findability of each document, which is how SharePoint Syntex enhances corporate memory (the available knowledge) and turns an otherwise hidden document into a valuable corporate asset.
SharePoint Syntex is not a part of the Microsoft Viva Suite license although SharePoint Syntex and Microsoft Viva Topics are often referred to together. This is because they are both tools for creating more efficient knowledge discovery processes and work on their own, but also in tandem with each other.
Key features of SharePoint Syntex are:
More about these features:
Syntex content centre
When enabling and setting up Syntex, the starting point is to create a content centre. A content centre is a special type of site for managing the Syntex models, while also providing the ability to integrate metadata and workflows, and to configure compliant automation.
Within the content centre, a model creation tool provides the capability to teach Syntex how to read and process documents in much the same way you would manually.
SharePoint Syntex uses the models to automatically recognise content, extract important information, and apply metadata tags. Integrated visual analytics help you track the effectiveness of the models.
Syntex can automatically tag images by using a visual dictionary with thousands of commonly recognised objects. In addition, Syntex can recognise and convert handwritten text into tags for use by search and for further processing.
You can teach Syntex to read your content the way you and build AI models with no code. Syntex can automatically suggest or create metadata, invoke custom Power Automate workflows, and attach compliance labels to enforce retention or record management policies.
Document understanding models are based on Language Understanding models in Azure Cognitive Services. These models are created and managed in a Syntex content centre, and you can publish and update your models to any library in any content centre throughout Syntex.
Separate to the Machine Teaching models, SharePoint Syntex also includes a powerful form processing engine, based on AI Builder, that lets you automatically recognise and extract common values such as dates, figures, names, or addresses from semi-structured or structured documents. These models are also built without code and require only a few documents for reliable results.
Advanced taxonomy services
Shared content types can be published to SharePoint and Microsoft Teams through SharePoint hub sites. Publishing content types from the central gallery to hub sites provides a flexible way to ensure that commonly used content types—enhanced with content understanding—can be rapidly deployed and upgraded across broad sections of your architecture as needed. Sites connected to hubs will automatically receive published and updated content types.
Since 2021 ClearPeople’s client Northumbria Water Group has been using Syntex to save a tremendous amount of time, extracting knowledge from many different types of documents and benefitting 1000s of users. Some of these examples include:
In NWG’s case the models run through over 20 million documents and regularly save the utility company weeks’ worth of time previously spent manually processing each type of document. Read this case study of NWG’s use of SharePoint Syntex and Viva Topics.
There are some other SharePoint Syntex scenarios on Microsoft’s website, including:
Recent released features for SharePoint Syntex include:
The content lifecycle doesn’t end when you classify documents. Often this kickstarts the creation of new documents built from content in the original document. With SharePoint Syntex’s Content Assembly you can build that new contract, invoice, letter, or other document from existing data sources or, by leveraging AI, you can turn your existing document into a template specific to your business requirements.
Advanced Metadata Search
This advanced search supports new column types: multiline text and taxonomy. End users will be able to add multiline text and taxonomy columns from their library into the advanced metadata search.
Adding Open Term Sets
If no match is found for an existing term or synonym, SharePoint Syntex can add extracted using a document understanding model to an open term set.
Atlas is the Digital Workplace Platform that provides:
Webinar: Download this video to see how Northumbria Water Group uses Atlas and SharePoint Syntex
Syntex is available as a user-based add-on for Microsoft 365 plans. To sign up for a free trial contact us or visit the SharePoint Syntex product page.
MS SharePoint Syntex is available through multiple subscription plans. Users must have a valid Office 365, Microsoft 365, or SharePoint Online license to be eligible to use Syntex with a Syntex license.
For Microsoft PowerApps AI Builder form processing, tenants with 300 or more licensed users of Syntex will receive 1M AI Builder credits monthly, as well as access to Microsoft Dataverse. These credits are allocated per tenant, not per user, so they won't scale as the number of users increases.
Real scenarios for using Microsoft 365 Content Services and SharePoint Syntex
Download this webinar where Microsoft, ClearPeople and their customer, Northumbria Water Group, discuss real and practical scenarios for how NWG uses Syntex and what they're achieving with it.