Microsoft has announced the introduction of SharePoint Premium, their latest upgrade from Microsoft Syntex. The announcement was made during the Microsoft Ignite event. SharePoint Premium is designed to be integral for organizations that are looking to leverage Microsoft's advanced Copilot artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. Copilot aims to assist users across various applications by providing intelligent suggestions, automating tasks, and resulting in productivity enhancements.
From Syntex to SharePoint Premium: A Strategic Rebranding
SharePoint Premium emerges as a rebranding and expansion of Microsoft Syntex, which itself was an initiative under Project Cortex, introduced to create a ‘knowledge network' within organizations. Project Cortex is Microsoft's endeavor in leveraging AI to push the boundaries of productivity by orchestrating a network of data and insights. Earlier this year, Microsoft Syntex became a pay-as-you-go service.
Jeff Teper, president of Microsoft 365 collaborative apps and platforms, highlighted during the Ignite session that while Microsoft Syntex was well-received, there was some confusion about its relationship with SharePoint. With the rebranding to SharePoint Premium, Microsoft aims to clarify that relationship. SharePoint serves as the foundational content management and collaboration platform for Microsoft 365, with SharePoint Premium augmenting it with value-added services.
Enhanced Capabilities for Content Management
The capabilities of SharePoint Premium have been categorized into three groups by Teper. These enhancements combine to form what Microsoft envisages to be the optimal way to manage content and leverage it for Copilot AI's era.
On the content experience side, SharePoint Premium boasts an ‘integrated file viewer' that supports more than 400 file types and enables inking features. The platform also introduces a ‘new Business Documents app in Teams,' which allows for the sending of alerts related to contracts requiring attention or nearing expiration. The platform employs AI-driven engines for detecting deviations in rules for document changes and analyzing clauses in contracts. There is also the inclusion of a Document Portal for facilitation of content sharing with external parties.
For document workflow, SharePoint Premium is set to include a SharePoint eSignature capability, designed to integrate seamlessly with electronic signing services from industry leaders such as Adobe and DocuSign. The general availability of this feature is planned for the first quarter of 2024, starting with U.S. tenancies.
On the governance front, SharePoint Premium offers a suite of tools aimed at improving data access governance. Features such as ‘Data Access Governance' and ‘Site Access Reviews', as well as ‘AI-driven policy recommendations,' allow organizations to better manage and control access to sensitive content.
Licensing and Availability
SharePoint Premium can be utilized today, though some of its features are still in development and are anticipated to become broadly available in the first half of 2024. The content processing services and electronic signature capabilities are currently at the general availability stage, while governance functionalities are available under the SharePoint Advanced Management (SAM) brand.
Microsoft will offer SharePoint Premium under two licensing models. Content processing services will follow a pay-as-you-go model for most Microsoft 365 plans. Additional capabilities such as the Business Documents app and others will be provided as seat-licensed services that can be added to existing Microsoft 365 plans.