Microsoft is revolutionising the way businesses handle knowledge and data with AI. SharePoint Syntex and Viva Topics were introduced as part of Microsoft’s Project Cortex. Cortex was Microsoft’s AI-powered initiative focused on creating knowledge networks for business. These capabilities are a new breed of intelligent services in Microsoft 365, allowing AI to recognise different content types, extract important information, and automatically organise it.
What is SharePoint Syntex?
SharePoint Syntex was the first product to come out of Project Cortex. Syntex uses AI and machine learning to understand content created within your organisation, allowing different types of documents to be recognised and for the most important information to be extracted from them. This classification of different document types alone drives huge benefits, from improved information management and compliance to process automation based on document contents. For example, once Microsoft 365 understands what a client contract is vs what a signed NDA is, appropriate information protection policies can be applied reliably and automatically – perhaps ensuring the document is retained for a certain period or can only be accessed on a company device.
Documents can also take part in processes based on their contents, for example alerting a project manager if a statement of work document doesn’t have an exec sponsor specified.
Syntex offers users two models, document understanding and form processing. Document understanding uses AI to classify documents and extract information. This works best with unstructured documents like contracts or letters.
Form processing uses Microsoft Power Apps AI Builder to create AI models through machine learning. This enables Syntex to extract information from structured documents, such as invoices or forms.
What is Viva Topics?
Viva is Microsoft’s employee experience platform, which comprises four modules: Insights, Learning, Connections and Topics. A fifth module will also be released soon for OKR support following Microsoft’s acquisition of Ally.io.
Viva Topics is the latest addition to the Viva catalogue, launched under Project Cortex. Topics uses AI, as well as other Microsoft technology (Microsoft 365, Graph, and Search) to turn content into knowledge. Users can view brief descriptions of subjects on topic cards or go more in-depth with dedicated topic pages.
AI for employee experience
Employee experience relates to the experience your people have on a daily basis in their working environment. And with most of us working from home regularly, how technology enhances this is now firmly in the spotlight.
Microsoft’s philosophy is that employee experience consists of six key elements:
Microsoft Viva aims to aid businesses in improving these key elements for their people. Employee experience is at the very centre of what it aims to do, with skills and resources in their flow of work through Microsoft Teams.
These resources are based on Microsoft Graph, delivering personalised content experiences to users. The beauty of Viva is that it is customisable, and the experience is unique to each business.
Knowledge and content challenges
Businesses and their people face many challenges when it comes to knowledge management in a digital workplace. Organisations can suffer from an overload of information. They may find themselves with large number of documents to classify, and this can take up a significant amount of employees’ time. This can also lead to disorganisation and, in turn, the loss of knowledge and data.
Another issue faced by users is finding the right information within their business. Employees spend approximately four to six hours of their working week searching for resources or information. People often have to sift through and open multiple documents just to find one piece of information. This can lead to an organisational drop in productivity and detracts from the employee experience.
How to improve business performance with SharePoint Syntex and Viva Topics
There are several ways your business can use an AI-based knowledge management system, such as Syntex or Topics. These programmes can improve your peoples’ employee experience, boost productivity, and increase your business’ performance.
1. Create a knowledge network
Viva Topics connects information and content from across your business, creating an organisational encyclopaedia for your people.
Topics automatically organises content into topics and will display topic cards when that subject is mentioned on a business’ SharePoint site or intranet, and soon on Teams, Outlook, and Yammer. Users can hover over an underlined topic to display its card, which shows a brief overview of the subject.
If users click on the underlined topic, they will be taken to a dedicated topic page. This gives a more detailed description of the subject and links to related topics and associated users in the business. The powerful part of this is that the knowledge is essentially taken to the user, rather than needing a separate look up or search, which can take the user out of context and disrupt their flow.
2. Speed up your business’ processes
Your people may be manually uploading documents, such as invoices, contracts, or statements of work. Organising these files and filling out metadata fields can be extremely time-consuming. SharePoint Syntex can be taught to classify documents and apply metadata for you, saving your people the legwork.
Viva Topics can also reduce the amount of time your people spend looking for the information they need to carry out their work. Topics can link related subjects together, explain acronyms, and point users in the direction of subject matter experts they need to connect with on projects. This will help to boost efficiency and productivity within your workforce.
3. Onboard new employees with ease
Onboarding can be a complicated and lengthy process for businesses. Employees may need different onboarding processes or access to different documents depending on their role or the project they are joining.
As it can be configured to classify and govern documents, contracts, policies and standards, Syntex can bring everything an employee or leader needs into one place. Viva Topics can also reduce the learning time for new employees or on new projects by speeding up the research process and improving information discoverability.
4. Reduce risks within your business
As with many technologies, the digital workplace can present risks. Organisations may be aiming to increase information governance, prevent loss of data, or ensure compliance with their security policies and standards.
With SharePoint Syntex, businesses can automate compliance processes, such as classifying, auditing, or flagging documents. Sensitive data can be identified, and the correct policies automatically applied, ensuring that assets are protected and information is retained for as long as it needs to be and/or disposed of at the right time.
5. Make searching for information more efficient
SharePoint Syntex can simplify the search process for employees when reviewing documents. Once documents have been classified by Syntex, and their metadata has been extracted, Microsoft Search will be able to index these files more effectively, making it easier for your people to find the information they need.
Topic cards and dedicated topic pages in Viva Topics can also reduce the time your employees spend searching for general company information by automatically providing them with the content they need.
Want to implement SharePoint Syntex and Viva Topics in your business?
The way your business manages its knowledge and content is more important than ever in the world of hybrid and remote working. Get a deeper understanding of how AI-based knowledge management can boost your organisation’s performance. Claim a spot at our Digital Revolution 2.0 event on Wednesday 19th January – register here.