It’s hard to believe that we’re already wrapping up the year! Just as soon as we introduced you to Microsoft Syntex at Ignite a few months ago, we’re now reflecting back on the many exciting developments we’ve had since October.
Customers and partners are most excited about Syntex document processing and eSignature for streamlining business workflows -- for example, automatically extracting key information from new contracts to better manage and secure them, then sending out for signing – all to simplify the transaction. You’ve suggested some interesting use cases -- such as modeling construction and safety reports to analyze operational logistics, for understanding safety requirements.
You’ve also told us you’re looking forward to Syntex backup and archiving (note: these are two distinct capabilities!). You’re especially looking for fast and reliable restore capabilities after a ransomware attack or malicious/accidental deletion of data. These backups are kept within the Microsoft 365 boundary, which will have all the same security, compliance and privacy customer promises as the primary data being backed up. We’ve also heard anticipation for archiving capabilities for “cold storage” content that needs to be maintained but not accessed regularly, that also stay within Microsoft 365 compliance boundaries at a lower storage cost.
Additionally, we’ve heard from many of you in packed sessions at various events, that you’re excited about pay-as-you-go pricing. The ability to use consumption to distribute Syntex services to even more of your users without purchasing seats and capacity in advance has piqued a lot of interest. Based on this feedback, we’re continuing to refine our use case and pricing calculator, which will be released when metered pay-as-you-go services moves into general availability.
New PDF extraction capability in OneDrive for Android. Syntex will be able to split and extract pages from a PDF file into separate PDFs, giving you the flexibility to customize and share only the information you need to within a file. This feature requires a Syntex license and will be generally available for OneDrive for Business on Android in mid-February 2023. This extract capability is on the Microsoft 365 public roadmap, Feature ID #106090. We will also bring this capability to iOS and the web by end of March 2023.
New and updated solution accelerators. Licensed Syntex users will be able to automate key processes by generating site templates for common scenarios – Contract Management and Accounts Payable. Think of these as starter kits for use “out of the box” that can be further customized to match your operational needs. Instead of searching for them in the Microsoft SharePoint look book, these accelerators can be deployed directly from the in-product template gallery and provisioned in the SharePoint admin center.
1) Accounts Payable accelerator. This new template includes automatic data classification and extraction using a prebuilt invoice model, a preconfigured content assembly model to generate content and various sample webparts, lists and libraries to get you started. It also includes learning material about how to use and extend this template for your business process. This solution accelerator is on the Microsoft 365 public roadmap – Feature ID #102380 – and will be generally available in early January 2023.
Figure 1 Accounts Payable accelerator
2) Contract Management accelerator. This enhanced template is available in the site template gallery so any licensed Syntex user can apply it in their tenant. It includes a service agreement library with a Syntex unstructured document processing model running on it. There is also a letters library with a preconfigured content assembly template that leverages data from a list on the site. The site also has lots of learning material and tips on automating your organization’s contract management workflows. This solution accelerator is on the Microsoft 365 public roadmap – Feature ID #98138 and also #102380 – and will be generally available in January 2023 as well.
Figure 2 Contract management accelerator
Universal annotations. Licensed Syntex users will be able to highlight and annotate any PDF or TIF file in collaboration with others – without altering the underlying document. This capability is particularly useful in legal environments where documents must remain unchanged to be valid evidence in a case or otherwise preserved as records, but a team still needs to call out information and easily make notes. This Syntex capability will be available for PDF and TIF in its first release, and we will expand it to more file types to better address your organization’s particular needs. Universal annotations is Microsoft 365 public roadmap Feature ID #103608, and will begin rolling out in January 2023.
Figure 3 Annotate any PDF or TIF while maintaining the original
What’s on deck for early 2023
General availability of the first Syntex Pay-as-you-go meters for document processing
Last month, we introduced free public preview access to unstructured document processing and prebuilt document processing. This is now fully rolled out for you to try at no charge! During the preview, these unstructured and prebuilt document processing capabilities are offered as a glimpse into a future pay-as-you-go service. You just need to add an Azure subscription ID in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center to activate these preview services – again, at no cost. Preview service availability is subject to terms and conditions to govern availability during the preview.
This free public preview continues through early 2023. Once the preview program comes to a close, these document processing capabilities will be generally available in a pay-as-you-go service. Syntex is the first Microsoft 365 product with this pricing structure, where you’ll pay for only what you use and won’t require an additional Syntex license to access these powerful features. You will need to reenable the services from preview once they move to paid meters. We’ll add more document processing capabilities like this, as announced at Ignite, over the course of 2023.