What is SharePoint Syntex and how much does it cost?

Microsoft SharePoint Syntex, the first product to come out of Microsoft’s larger Project Cortex, is now available under general release. But what is it, how does it work, and how much does it cost?

Syntex takes advantge of the advanced AI and machine learning coming out of Project Cortex to automatically categorise and classify documents based on models set up by the user. Using these models, Syntex can extract specific data and apply it as metadata to documents, as well as applying Sensitivity and Retention labels for information protection.

SharePoint Syntex lets users create two types of model: Form Processing and Document Understanding. The difference between the two is that Form Processing extracts values from a structured form, while Document Understanding is trained to pick out information from an unstructured document.

Document Understanding with Syntex

To implement a Document Understanding model, a you first need to provision a Content Center. A Content Center is a SharePoint site that’s used to create and store the different document models, as well as to apply those models to your Document Libraries.

SharePoint Syntex Content Center
SharePoint Syntex Content Center

When you have identified a document type you wish to model – such as Statements of Work, CVs/resumés or Purchase Orders – you can create the new model in the Content Center. On creation, the default action is to create a new Content Type; however, you can change this to use an existing Content Type if you have one already set up in your Content Type Hub.

Training a Syntex model

After creating the model, you need to train it by adding in some example files. Syntex only requires five positive examples and one negative example, but more is always better if possible. Once the example files have been uploaded, explanations need to be created alongside them to train the model. The model can then be tested within the Content Center.

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Changes to Microsoft Stream

Microsoft Stream
Microsoft Stream

Microsoft Stream was launched just over three years ago as the service to replace Office 365 Video, providing corporate video streaming and sharing video capabilities.

In October 2020, Microsoft announced that Stream would be much better integrated with Microsoft 365 to provide ‘fast, intelligent video’ capabilities for all users. So, what does this mean in practice?

Classic Stream vs New Stream

In terms of terminology there is now ‘Classic’ Stream, which is what every customer has now.  New Stream is the future service and there will be a transition period where customers are switched from Classic to New.

Although the user impact of New Stream may not be enormous, it is a large technical change from Microsoft’s point of view with a complete rebuilding of the Stream video service in aggressive timelines.

From a Microsoft 365 administration point of view, the primary change is that New Stream will use OneDrive or SharePoint to store videos (as an MP4 file) rather than the separate Stream service. A Stream video will therefore be treated in the same way as any other file being stored in SharePoint/OneDrive.

Changes to the Microsoft Stream landscape
Changes to the Microsoft Stream landscape

SharePoint will be used where a meeting recording is within a Microsoft 365 Group / Teams channel.  Where the recording is not linked to a group, the organisers OneDrive will be used.

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Breakout Rooms in Microsoft Teams

Breakout Rooms in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft has said Breakout Rooms in Microsoft Teams will finally be rolled out to all users during November 2020.

Breakout rooms let video call participants create separate ‘rooms’ for private discussion, before being brought back together into the main call. The meeting’s organisers or hosts can move between breakout rooms and even send messages to all participants.

Breakout rooms – a most-requested feature

Microsoft has taken its time rolling out breakout rooms. This is despite it frequently being used as an excuse for businesses to use competing video calling tools, like Zoom. The feature has been present in those apps for years, so it’s no surprise that it quickly became one of the most-requested features in Teams, even before so many of us moved to remote working. A request for the feature on Microsoft’s Feedback Forum, started two years ago, quickly gained more than 18,000 votes from users.

Breakout sessions will be enabled at the same time as Microsoft plans to drastically increase the number of participants you can have on a call. The limit of active participants is going to be raised from 300 to a massive 1,000, while ‘view-only’ participants in Teams Live Events will be doubled, from 10,000 to 20,000.

And with the introduction of a larger 7×7 video grid, you will be able to see up to 49 people at once on your call, rather than nine on the current 3×3 grid.

Assigning users to breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams
Assigning users to breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams

Set up Breakout Rooms in Microsoft Teams

In order to use breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams, your tenant administrator will need to enable certain settings to allow users access to the feature. The features that must be enabled are:

  • Scheduling private meetings
  • Meet now in private meeting
  • Channel meeting scheduling
  • Meet now in channels

With these features enabled, users can now use breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams. All users who want to participate must switch to what Microsoft calls the ‘new meeting experience’. To ensure you have access to breakout rooms, in the Teams app, click your profile image, then ‘Settings’, and ensure ‘Turn on new meeting experience’ is selected. If it wasn’t already selected, you may need to restart Teams before it takes effect.

You can be certain that Teams is set up correctly with the new meeting experience if your meetings open in their own, separate, windows.

Once you’re in a meeting, it’s easy for meeting organisers to create breakout rooms. Look next to the ‘raise hand’ icon and you’ll see a new icon for breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams. Note that participants in the meeting who aren’t meeting organisers won’t see the option. Also note that you can only create breakout rooms on the desktop Teams app – it’s not yet possible to do from an iOS or Android mobile or tablet device.

Starting a Breakout Session in Microsoft Teams
Starting a Breakout Session in Microsoft Teams

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