Sunday 27 November 2022

Microsoft Syntex - December 2022 update and compiled articles

Microsoft Syntex has been one of Microsoft's biggest announcements in 2022 - which can be somewhat confusing because it existed previously as SharePoint Syntex since 2020 - but Syntex is expanding massively from "AI that understands your documents so you can automate processes" to an entire suite of advanced capabilities related not just to your documents, but also your images and videos. Some of the bigger recent or forthcoming features include document eSignatures, annotations, image recognition, automated document summaries and translations, auto video transcription and much more - many of which were announced at Microsoft's Ignite conference in October 2022. I'm hearing Microsoft folks say that "Syntex could be as big or bigger than the Power Platform in time", which is an interesting thought given the impact that has had.

Over the last 2 years I've been writing a lot about Syntex on this blog and thought it would be good time to do two things:
  • Provide a 'Syntex on a page' round-up of the current and future capabilities    
  • Provide links to my Syntex articles from one place
  • Provide links to a couple of YouTube videos demonstrating Syntex in action from conference talks I've given
This article provides these.

Syntex on a page - December 2022

If you're confused about what's in Syntex and what's coming, I like to put things into these buckets:
  • Content understanding and processing - using AI to understand your documents and automate something 
    • Example - find all risk assessments missing a start date and contact the supplier organisation
    • Example - read an insurance contract and save the policy details to a database
  • Content assembly - automated creation of new documents
    • Example - generate a new contract for every new starter
  • Content management and governance - premium document management capabilities 
    • Example - send a completed contract for eSignature (like DocuSign or Adobe Sign but fully integrated into Microsoft 365) and move location once complete
    • Example - automated detection of pay review documents so specific security or policies can be applied without manual tagging 
The image below (click to enlarge) shows what's in Syntex today and what's in the roadmap:

Hopefully that helps position the today/tomorrow capabilities somewhat.

Compilation of my articles

I’ve been slowly creating a back catalogue of Syntex articles as I research, learn, and write about the technology. I’ve covered concepts such as training Syntex to read and understand documents, extracting data from forms, automating the creation of new documents, using Syntex in a fully automated process (Straight Through Processing) and various hints and tips articles. Here's a list of Syntex articles which might be useful, starting with the fundamentals and moving into more advanced topics:
Note that there have been some renames along the way, and some of those articles might contain the old names. Here are some examples:
  • SharePoint Syntex -> Microsoft Syntex
  • Document understanding -> Unstructured document processing
  • Forms Processing -> Structured document processing
Hopefully the links above are useful on your Syntex learning journey.

My Syntex videos on YouTube

Seeing Syntex in action can bring it to life a lot more than reading about it. This link points to a couple of the demos I've shown at conferences with a talkover for YouTube: 

Reminder - why is Syntex important?

One way or another, automation will always be a theme of many of the I.T. projects undertaken in the next few years. The trend is increasing, with analysts predicting a $30b market by 2024 (IDC) and Gartner saying 60% of organisations are pursuing four or more automation initiatives. There are many technologies in the space, but Microsoft Syntex changes the game because advanced AI and document automation tools are now baked into the core productivity platform used by 91% the world’s top businesses (i.e. Microsoft 365) - inexpensive, readily available and democratised for every business.
It's no surprise Microsoft are investing heavily here. Every organisation has thousands of processes needing human input. If you consider Financial Services as just one industry, banks deal with applications for loans, mortgages, credit cards, loyalty schemes and many other products. Insurance companies quote, sell, and renew policies for home, car, travel, pet cover and more – and those are just the obvious products and services. Zooming out, every industry you can think of has an entire ecosystem of processes that can be optimised.
As Syntex powers are amplified and more capabilities are added, spending time evaluating what Syntex can unlock is likely to be valuable for many organisations.