[Microsoft Ignite recap] Project Cortex: Bringing content intelligence to Microsoft 365

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Microsoft announced the general availability of Microsoft SharePoint Syntex as of October 1, 2020. Here's what you need to know about the first product released as part of Project Cortex.

Few situations are more annoying than not being able to find files when you know they exist. This is especially true for documents and forms that you know are hiding somewhere on your network.

These days, when everyone’s looking to move to the cloud ASAP, documents may be siloed across legacy systems. These missing files can wreak havoc on compliance and retention management. If the metadata isn’t correct, it can cause additional problems. Let’s face it, before long you can’t find anything.

Maybe you’re considering entering all of your metadata manually. This can be labor intensive and prone to errors in data entry.

In this Microsoft Ignite session, "Project Cortex: Knowledge discovery and content intelligence in Microsoft 365", Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny), Director of Content Services & Insights, and Chris McNulty (@cmcnulty2000), Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft, shared some of their insights into how Project Cortex (and the first Cortex spin-off product, Microsoft SharePoint Syntex) can help mitigate or even avoid these issues.

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What is Project Cortex?

Project Cortex is an AI system that creates a knowledge network across the Microsoft 365 apps in your organization. Connected to tools such as Microsoft SharePoint, Graph, and Search, it leverages an artificial intelligence algorithm to improve how information is processed.

Project Cortex is intended to make it easier to organize and share knowledge across the entire company. It can improve employee workflows and enhance automation. It will help users better organize the knowledge network they already have stored in Office 365 documents and much more. This will allow people to make informed decisions faster and enables users to better access the knowledge and content within Microsoft 365.

Project Cortex makes it easier to organize and share knowledge across the entire company.

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Microsoft applications power many of the world’s endeavors. Its users create a tremendous volume of content. Project Cortex combines knowledge discovery, expertise and answers, content services, and workplace insights. The Project Cortex AI maps content between people and their files and uses AI to reach into documents and process them.


Introducing Microsoft SharePoint Syntex

The big news from this session? Microsoft SharePoint Syntex is coming on October 1, 2020 for general availability.

Microsoft SharePoint Syntex is the first product to be released as part of Project Cortex, and it aims to solve many of the problems that exist in large content management systems like SharePoint.

Good to know:

  • E3/E5 Plans will be priced per user
  • It will include 1MM AIBuilder monthly credits which you can use for form processing
  • Content connectors will be able to index items at a rate of 500 items/per second

In this session, we saw a live demo of Syntex in action and how it will transform the way organizations manage content.

In short, Syntex manages your metadata, taxonomy, and content types. At the highest level, it provides better understanding of content to users. This helps SharePoint Syntex provide content intelligence for users.

Content intelligence

By providing content understanding with AI models (which require no coding), information in your content can be extracted and classified. It then applies the metadata automatically. Once this is done, it can be used for knowledge discovery.

This is content intelligence.

Syntex provides content processing that uses Power Automate to automate the capture, ingestion, and then categorization of content. It provides content compliance that improves governance and security of content.

Syntex not only ingests content in a more effective way, it also understands what is inside of your document. By training with 5-10 documents (i.e. Word Docs, PDFs, etc.), including negative examples, Syntex can provide better document understanding. This can be trained and then applied across multiple libraries.

It is a hub for your business process and contains classifiers that can help teach the machine the content the way we do. Users can build a trainable classifier model. That can be applied to other doc libraries and then applied to other models.

Syntex also provides form processing for documents created in the document library. It uses models that are created inside the AI Builder for semi-structured files. Training for form processing can include PNGs, PDFs, and JPGs. 

Seamless compliance integration

Syntex also offers retention and sensitivity labels that can improve compliance integration.

The retention labels created are based on document age or external events. The sensitivity label sets the encryption, level of access, and sharing. While labels can be applied by users, SharePoint Syntex AI models can also set them for you.

While content labeling has been around for a while, Syntex has the ability to automate these compliance labels. The metadata is extracted automatically using artificial intelligence. And, since Syntex uses AI, you will need to have a process in place for identifying outliers.

Automated labeling = less compliance gaps.


Cortex to Syntex and beyond

Content intelligence will allow us to find the data we need more quickly without the impractical work of manually entering tags on every item. In this session, Naomi Moneypenny and Chris McNulty demonstrated how Microsoft has made this a reality with Syntex. Since it’s available on October 1st, we won’t have long to wait.

Maybe more exciting than getting our hands on this AI tool, we have to remember that Syntex is just the first project to be released as part of Project Cortex. We’ll have to wait and see what Microsoft will cook up next.

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