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An introduction to SharePoint Syntex

SharePoint Syntex is Microsoft's foray into the increasingly popular market of content AI services. This introduction explores how Syntex works, pricing and includes a video demo.

AI's ability to automate and streamline human activities at work interests most organizations, and its ability to improve employee efficiency offers opportunities to enhance the customer experience.

Recently, interest in AI has grown significantly due to software like ChatGPT and those technologies' abilities to create content from simple typed requests. The software has raised interest among business executives wondering how they can embrace AI tools -- especially ones they have access to, like Microsoft SharePoint Syntex -- within their organizations.

Many organizations use content management platforms like Microsoft SharePoint, which is one of the most widely used. Its new content AI service -- Syntex -- offers an entry point for companies to apply AI services to their existing data with little effort and without heavy investment in larger scale AI tools and training. SharePoint Syntex has become an opportunity to see how organizations can apply AI to their content.

What is SharePoint Syntex?

Syntex is an AI service offered as an add-on within Microsoft SharePoint. It can process and analyze documents to perform a set of activities based on what it detects and learns through machine learning (ML) and understanding.

Microsoft has several AI services and capabilities in its portfolio, like those embedded in Power BI, Azure ML, AI Builder and now Syntex. While these services all offer different real-world applications, organizations already established with SharePoint can use Syntex to quickly operationalize AI with little effort.

Syntex offers capabilities like intelligent document classification and data extraction. It can also access all content stored within SharePoint and perform several tasks with the content.

What does SharePoint Syntex do?

As SharePoint Syntex can perform intelligent document processing, organizations can use this service in several ways to support automation and improved efficiencies for internal operations.

Organizations already established with SharePoint can use Syntex to quickly operationalize AI with little effort.

Extracts content

Syntex can analyze documents -- including images, PDFs, Word files and other documents -- then extract content within the file and make it available to users, SharePoint lists and Power Automate.

Examples of extraction include the following:

  • extracting customer information from contract documents;
  • extracting vendor names, addresses, invoice amounts and due dates from invoices; and
  • extracting data to populate metadata for specific documents stored within SharePoint.

Automates business processes

Syntex can also support automated document classification as organizations categorize new or existing documents in a SharePoint library. This process eliminates the need for users to open the documents and determine whether it is a contract, invoice, purchase order or other type of content.

Organizations can also use Power Automate to support automatic document routing based on Syntex's data or classification detection. Content can include invoices routed for approvals based on their data and classification, or contract reviews based on the client type or terms within the contract.

Supports advanced metadata search

Traditional searches in SharePoint require keywords to locate a file or set of files. However, with Syntex's advanced metadata search feature, SharePoint can return search results based on queries that go beyond keywords. Searches based on metadata column values can retrieve files from specific authors, file types, content types, dates and other associated metadata.

Enables content compliance

To determine a document's compliance requirements, users traditionally had to categorize them so SharePoint could apply existing retention policies to them. Syntex can automate that process. It detects content within a processed document and automatically assigns it a retention label. This process reduces the amount of work for users managing document compliance.

SharePoint Syntex licenses and pricing

Currently, Microsoft offers SharePoint Syntex as an add-on for existing Microsoft 365 subscriptions, and it is user-based. The current cost structure is $5 monthly per user with an annual commitment. However, only customers licensed for the following stockkeeping units can add Syntex to their subscriptions:

  • Microsoft 365 F1, F3, E3, A3, E5;
  • Office 365 F3, E1, A1, E3, A3, E5, A5;
  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard, Business Premium; or
  • SharePoint Online Plan 1, Plan 2 or K.

A demo of SharePoint Syntex

To start using SharePoint Syntex, an organization can either opt for the 30-day trial or purchase the licenses right away. For the trial, the organization needs an existing Microsoft 365 tenant. Then, they can follow these steps to get started with Syntex:

  • The administrator should sign in to start on Microsoft's website.
  • When the trial begins, the administrator can assign the Syntex license to any users involved in testing and using the service. Admins can do this through the admin portal --
  • Next, admins can configure Syntex in the portal under the "Setup" section and under "Microsoft Syntex." The configuration wizard will show the necessary next steps to configure the application properly and create the SharePoint site that will use the service.
  • When the site is ready, admins can create their models using some of the predefined models and follow the wizard, which will direct them to upload sample files and identify what fields the system needs to extract.
A demo of SharePoint Syntex

While teams can use Syntex in many ways, content extraction and detection are the most popular in initial trials.

The introduction of AI services to SharePoint offers many use cases for organizations that already use the platform. Syntex offers ease of use and affordability, and would not require a data scientist or an AI expert to set up, which makes it attractive to some businesses.

Still, the platform is in early adoption. With more experimentation, organizations can narrow down the different use cases that will have the biggest effects on users.

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