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The Intrazone is your bi-weekly conversation and interview podcast hosted by the SharePoint team. The show highlights usage, adoption, and how SharePoint works for you. You’ll hear from guest experts behind the scenes and out in the field. It's all about how SharePoint fits into your everyday work life – the goal being to more easily share and manage content, knowledge and applications, and to empower teamwork throughout your organization with the technology you already have. Get your ears ready and subscribe today!
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Oct 12, 2022

Time to turn the crank on your Syntex knowledge - now an elevated brand and loads of new innovation. Every workday, Microsoft customers add 1.6 billion documents to Microsoft 365. That content is essential to your organization -- carrying knowledge, decisions, and transactions that are vital to the flow of work. Microsoft Syntex, announced this week at Microsoft Ignite 2022, brings the power of content management and AI together to transform the way we work. We chat with Ian Story, Principal GPM on the Syntex product team and Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Founder of analyst firm, Deep Analysis, and learn the behind the scenes of this exciting new "Content AI" category and solution.

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Ian Story (Principal group product manager - Syntex) Twitter | LinkedIn

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Mark Kashman |@mkashman [co-host]

Chris McNulty |@cmcnulty2000 [co-host]

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Microsoft Ignite 2022 announcement blog, "Welcome to Microsoft Syntex – Content AI integrated in the flow of work"

New Microsoft Mechanics episode: "Introducing Microsoft Syntex | Content AI" with Omar Shahine, CVP - Product management, Microsoft, and Jeremy Chapman, Director, Microsoft product marketing

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MARK KASHMAN: Welcome to the interzone, a show about the Microsoft 365 Intelligent Intranet. I’m Mark Kashman here with my cohost, Chris, who is exhaling with all the news that’s out there, McNulty.

CHRIS MCNULTY: Well, thanks, Mark. Today, we’ll hear from Ian Story, who is the Principal Group Product Manager at mm, and Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Founder and Principal of the Analyst Firm, Deep Analysis. And I’ll be interviewing myself, Chris McNulty.

MARK KASHMAN: And you’ve got a mirror, right? So that during this you can be both guest, subject matter expert and cohost.

CHRIS MCNULTY: For my day job, I am Director of Product Marketing for the Next-Gen Content Services Team, here at Microsoft, and so that’s a fairly broad range of capabilities that includes OneDrive and SharePoint and Stream, and some parts of our newer technologies, Viva, and of course, what we’re doing with Syntex. So I’m kind of playing a dual role today.

MARK KASHMAN: I like it, I like asking you questions, Chris.

CHRIS MCNULTY: But today, we are going to be digging into the wonderful world of content, the artist formerly known as ECM, or Content Services, what’s going on in the industry as a whole, what we’re observing from our customers, and how Microsoft is proposing a whole set of solutions to help you address the challenges that you may face with content in your organization, using cloud, using AI and using processing.

MARK KASHMAN: Yes, and the answer to all of your challenges, the thing that you’re going to hear more about today is, what is new for Syntex. We’re going to get insights of what’s most valuable for customers. We’re going to get a breakdown in the direction and the goals of the products, two of the human-managed content, at scale, with a little help from AI.

CHRIS MCNULTY: You know, if you jump back in time, not super far, but a few years back, we launched a research project, looking for ways that we could add more value to what at the time was still usually referred to as Office 365, and we recognize that the ways that people interact with content and knowledge were a gap. And so we launched a long-term research and engineering project to innovate in those spaces, and that project was – essentially had two main threads, one of which was released last year as the first module of Microsoft Viva, Viva Topics, helping you discover knowledge in your organization.

But we recognized that there was still a lot more that we could be, and should be, doing for those core content experiences, which has led us to incubate a number of capabilities for Syntex, and then today, at Ignite, to unveil the next stage, which for us is Microsoft Syntex.

MARK KASHMAN: You know, one way to think about it, certainly for our audience, with SharePoint in their history and their DNA, it is the pie, you know, the chart of what SharePoint is, when you get the SharePoint server and you deploy it, and you deploy it for X, Y and Z. There are six main components. One of them, like you mentioned earlier, was enterprise content management, and if I literally went around the wheel of the pie, we could see that what used to be SharePoint Social grew up and became what is now managed and owned by Yammer, that social aspect of community. Search went to Microsoft Search. BI investments went to Power BI, and on and on, around the corner, but Content Management, ECM, always had its foothold in SharePoint, and it still does, but it really now is manifesting in SharePoint Syntex, now Microsoft Syntex, just like you said.

So it really is a huge investment, a huge evolution, but also to address everything that people were doing or trying to do with ECM, but now in this modern era, to be able to do it at scale, and to do it with less of the tactical work and doing more of the – the business value that the people can own.

CHRIS MCNULTY: Yeah, scale is really one of the things that we’re mindful of. And so one of the signals that we’ve looked at, looking at some of the analyst research is that the world is on track to have 130 billion terabytes of unstructured files and videos and documents, and all the rest, in just 3 years. And to kind of tear that down into just the Microsoft side of that, every day, on average, our customers add 1.6 billion new documents to M365, and then tomorrow, we wake up and we do another billion-six. And that kind of scale, even inside of a single organization, is just mind-boggling.

When we think about some of the innovations that we brought to market, and our colleagues have brought to market, around automation, certainly, the Power Platform is a great way to have a structured process around data and experience and reporting, and it’s really powerful, but when it comes back to the content that people use, you know, to capture – I don’t know, notes about a podcast or recordings or decisions or contracts or proposals, all of these things are the lifeblood of organizations, and they flow in and out of an organization with people who live outside. If there is one automation tool people are using to try to make sense of it, it might be Outlook, but fundamentally, it’s just too much for people to keep track of.

MARK KASHMAN: And I heard one of our colleagues, Karuana, in a pre-Ignite call, literally just describe her inbox as she’s got her hands thrown up for the next week or two, but if it were in a more structured way, or just in a way that wasn’t such a disconnected-type information sharing, if it was a little bit more structured for her and teams, and take that to the next level for the things that really need to be archived and distributed and shared in the right way, with the right automated process behind it, I can hear, even in her voice – you know, to do that in something like Outlook would – it is and would be a nightmare for a lot of people, especially at the scale that you just described.

And knowing some of our tools that help automate, obviously the AI behind it, I know one other important component which you’ve been driving from a partner program perspective, but with this evolution to Microsoft Syntex, and all of the tendrils that kind of make the art of the possible even more possible, how would you describe the ecosystem in this era of Syntex?

CHRIS MCNULTY: I think it’s waking up. You know, I don’t want to rob too much from things I expect we’re going to talk to Alan about, because we’ve done some prep work with him as well, but it’s been a very interesting time. Like things have been relatively quiet for a number of years, and we’ve seen kind of a huge growth rate pop in content management across the cloud. And a lot of that growth is happening beyond that core set of services for content sharing and collaboration in – well, business processes, in search, in areas like e-signature, which is one of the things that we’re readying for Syntex.

And one of our hypotheses is that we have all of this cloud power that’s out there, and content management sits sort of right next to both business process and productivity. And at its worst, what people used to describe ECM as, ECM is the most expensive place to put documents that nobody ever looks at ever again. So you can build all the workflows you’d like, but it’s not meaningful, unless you keep a human element in it.

And so how do we take all of this scale and all of this power, and frankly, all of this AI, and make it accessible to people through the apps they use every day? You know, one of the things that we took forward from Microsoft Viva is the importance of not taking a rip-and-replace approach to the platform, of not standing up something that is completely brand new with a whole new set of experiences, which is why Viva is based on and delivered through Teams and the rest of M365.

And we take a similar approach. It definitely has a strong heritage, coming from SharePoint, for how it interacts with content, but making sure that we have rich experiences that you can get to, through Word, through Outlook, and through the rest of the apps that you use every day in M365.

MARK KASHMAN: And that’s important because, first, with the IT hat who might be reviewing "how do I put this in place … what does it run on … are there any security measures I need to be aware of that are new, that aren’t what I’m used to with SharePoint, Exchange and of course Teams," you know, as a frontend and a backend to a lot of that. So if I – if I take on a – you know, the CISO and ITDMs, look at it, and go, "Look this is a – a benefit to the investments we’ve already made," over time – a lot of our content is already in the right place. It’s just going to get better tagged, maybe even better used because of that tagging and the exposure through some of the discovery mechanisms, or the investments that are coming for Search.

So if I take off the IT hat, I know there’s another component, you know, so that people just start to wrap their heads around "what is Syntex … how do I get it … what do I need to do and what value does it bring to me?" Can you shine a little light on the commercial model that probably is evolving, but I think, if anybody on this – audience, just assume that it’s new to them, what – what does that commercial model look like for Mic – Microsoft Syntax?

CHRIS MCNULTY: Yeah, so one of the things you’ll hear us talking about, increasingly, as we roll out new capabilities, is the pay-as-you-go model. We’re mindful that there are core capabilities in Syntex, tagging documents, building new ones, electronic signature, summarization, translation, all the rest. There are some people who are hardcore content consumers and generators who need to use those capabilities every day, but for every one of then, there’s 10, 20 or 50 people in the organization who might need to do that once a month, or once a year.

And so, increasingly, we’re shifting to a pay-as-you-go model. So all of those services and capabilities can be distributed, as I mentioned, without buying and extra seat license for anyone who might need them. All we are focused on is who are our Microsoft 365 commercial users, and then allowing those services to be available on a pay-as-you-go basis, so just as couple of cents per page to tag a document, or to get it translated, providing much more flexibility in how people get access to them and making sure that you’re not paying for things that you don’t need and don’t use.

MARK KASHMAN: I think that’s going to resonate really well, both with how the technology works – like that just makes sense when you describe it, but also in that consumption space. You know, when people see the value and they do use it, that will be the cost, and if people aren’t using it, then the cost isn’t going to be something that just is almost like unused, the lease that you’ve never used to drive the car. It’s when you drive the car that those costs will – will come through, for good reason.

CHRIS MCNULTY: Well, there’s a lot that I can say about this, but there’s plenty of other people far more knowledgeable than me who can talk about our vision in this space.

MARK KASHMAN: Yeah, so before we jump into today’s discussion with Ian and Alan, we did want to pause and play an audio clip of Jeff Teper, who is President of Collaborative Apps and Platforms at Microsoft, which under his team includes Syntex. And from his Syntex breakout session from the Microsoft Ignite 2022 show, this audio clip gives a really nice framing to, what is Microsoft Syntex and why Microsoft went this way.

AUDIO CLIP/JEFF TEPER: Hello, everyone, we’re thrilled to be here with you today to share our new innovations that put people at the center with content seamlessly integrated into collaboration and workflows. My name’s Jeff Teper, and I’m the President of Collaborative Apps and Platforms at Microsoft, and I’m joining you here today from Microsoft Studios.

The amount of content created for collaboration in business processes is growing dramatically, and we’re honored that so many of you have chosen the Microsoft Cloud as your foundation for content collaboration. You’re creating over 1.6 billion new documents in Microsoft 365, every day. That’s over 10 times versus just 5 years ago. And this growth will continue with increased internal and external collaboration and the digitization of work in the cloud.

By industry estimates, we’ll have over 130 billion terabytes of unstructured content by 2025, and organizations are already spending over $46 billion a year to store and manage that content, but all too often, critical information remains locked up in disconnected silos, or even stored as paper in warehouses. This scale creates real challenges and exciting opportunities for a better solution, one that builds on your existing investments but brings a breakthrough from new technologies, augmenting the lifecycle of content management so people can be more effective, and organizations can drive their transformations with more agility at lower costs.

What’s needed is a novel approach to enhance, connect, manage and build your content at scale. We call this emerging area, content AI. To harness the power of content AI, we’re very excited today to introduce Microsoft Syntex. It’s a comprehensive new set of capabilities that bring content AI into the flow of work.

CHRIS MCNULTY: So it’s always great to hear Jeff outline the whats and whys of any technology, and I’m personally especially excited to hear him frame Microsoft Syntex for us today. We hope that helps land the discussion now, as we get ready to bring Ian and Alan onto the Intrazone.

MARK KASHMAN: And you Chris, we’re bringing you on the Intrazone.


MARK KASHMAN: So you got a little teaser of what is this thing we call Syntex, but to dive under the covers, both inside Microsoft, outbound today through the Intrazone, and a nice analyst perspective from outside of Microsoft to really see and give a sense of what does the industry expect, and what is this thing that’s called Syntex? From a different point of view, I want to bring onto the show, Ian Story, who is a Principal Group Product Manager here at Microsoft, focused on a lot of what we’re doing around enterprise content management, content services, content AI, and now in the form of Syntex Outbound.

And analyst, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, who is the Founder of Deep Analysis, but also an industry expert in all of those same categories. So Alan, Ian, and of course, Chris, welcome to the Intrazone.

IAN STORY: Thanks, Mark, it’s great to be here.

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: Excellent, yeah, I’m looking forward to the discussion.

MARK KASHMAN: So maybe we’ll start with Ian, just for the nature of – you know, let’s start with Microsoft and we’ll move out. Ian, can you just give us the 101 of what you do here at Microsoft and the perspective of, you know, this evolution of content AI?

IAN STORY: Thanks, Mark, as you noted, I lead the product team for Syntex, and I’ve been with the company for a little more than six years. Day to day, we are building the product. You know, I’ve been working on Syntex for a couple of years now, and you know, to the earlier capabilities in and around SharePoint, to now growing it to really be Microsoft Syntex and all the capabilities therein. So lots of exciting things in the space, and being a former customer myself, and having worked in this industry for over 20 years, I’m very excited about it, and every customer and partner, and even Microsoft person that we chat about Syntex with, seems to really start to see how this is going to change a lot of what folks have traditionally thought of as document management – I’ll throw a different one at you there, enterprise content management, content services, now content AI. So we’re very excited about it.

MARK KASHMAN: I’m very happy for you and your team to be at this moment in time. The milestone is – is a big one and I’m really excited to hear what you have to share today. Alan, before we go too much further, do – can we get a deep analysis of who Alan is, and give a sense of, you know, your take kind of at the – at the ongoing and now current bump of evolution for Syntex?

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: Yeah, indeed, I am an industry analyst, and I’ve been covering the – the news that’s in document management there, so I’ll use it, this sort of space, the technologies, the practices for over 20 years. And Deep Analysis, I founded the company, coming up six years ago, and that’s what me and my colleagues focus on, so it’s the one thing we sort of like to think we really do know what we’re talking about.

The thing is, when we founded Deep Analysis, it seemed like nothing had changed in the industry for the best part of 20 years. It was certainly not exciting, that’s to be for sure, but a lot happened in a short period of time. I mean, you’ve got cloud mobility, you know, sort of easy access to AI, and people like Amazon and Google and yourselves, suddenly coming along and releasing modules that developers could get their hands on, which was, you know, a real first.

Alongside that, a ton of VC money flooded into the market, so it’s never been so vibrant, frankly – I mean, it really hasn’t been this vibrant for over 20 years, so there’s an understanding that we can’t carry on the way we’ve been going. Some of our clients have – I’m not exaggerating here – I mean, they have tens of billions of files they’ve accumulated. They don’t know what they’ve got. They don’t know what to do with it, and people are always looking to automate, to make things more efficient, more effective, and documents are – are often the stumbling block. They seem to be the hardest thing to sort out, and so – you know, Syntex has come along at a time where there’s a lot of interest, not just within Microsoft but outside of it, and a real need in the buyer community to – to start tackling these tough problems, frankly.

So yeah, it’s good timing for Syntex, and I think the next four or five years, Syntex and – you know, some of the startups will do very, very well, and my hope is, more importantly, that we finally stop sorting documents out, you know, start to understand what it is we’ve got and make better use of this, instead of just piling them up in – in another repository and then move them to cheap storage, so that’s the goal. That’s the hope.

MARK KASHMAN: My hope through this conversation is to – to take it on that same journey. You know, there was this category of document management, content management, and adding in the – the benefits now to customers who are doing things at scale or – or possibly even coming to you, Alan, and saying, "We are under water because of the sheer volume that we have, ether because the repositories that we’re now combining are moving to the cloud. We’re exposing a lot of things that we kind of forgot about, but we need to categorize and better be able to find and use and repurpose."

Before we get too deep into, you know, the benefits and some of the news of the day, as far as we’re now at Ignite, we’ve exposed a lot of new – of new disclosures and information, Ian, can I get from you the kind of primer, 101, 201, as far as you want to go, of what Syntex does, if we got the problem space a little bit from what Alan just shared, how Syntex starts to help that content throughout its lifecycle?

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: I’d say the first thing with Syntex is we bring, you know, content AI, you know, kind of an artificial intelligence to your content, and we do basic things, like we classify it and say, "Oh, that’s a contract. And that’s an invoice. And that’s a receipt." And we extract metadata from it and apply that metadata so that you can more easily find it in the future, like, "Oh, that the contract number is this. So the vendor name is that," or the total on your receipt is, you know, $11, or what have you.

We take all that metadata, and then we can use it to help route the content around. We can put the right retention on the content, the right sensitivity labels to help protect it, and so forth. And you know, that’s often kind of the start of the content lifecycle, is a piece of content comes into an organization or is created within the organization, and you need to do some very basic management. And you know, in the industry, there’s the old saying that everybody loves the library. It’s so great to go to the library and browse and use the card catalog to find what you’re looking for, but nobody wants to be the librarian, the person that types in all that information and manages it, and so forth. And so that’s the first thing Syntex helps you with.

But from there, whether you’re taking it through a business process with Power Automate, or you’re doing some simple review and approvals, maybe you need to do an e-signature, at the end of that business process, maybe you want to archive the content and apply even some more security around it, depending on the nature of what the process was, and so forth. And we’ve really expanded Syntex to handle all those types of use cases as well, all those requirements.

And you know, my colleague, Chris, I’m going to beat him to it here, but he loves to say, you know, in the past, we would find that content would often begin its life in Microsoft 365, but then end its life in another repository, because it had been archived off to a so-called system of record or be moved out to another repository as part of a signing process or something like that. And it gets complicated to keep track of all that stuff, and the chain of custody, and you know, some of these things are very high value, that’s why you’re using this type of technology for them. And we want to help you keep it all organized, keep it all within M365, and really take advantage of your investment in the platform.

And so that’s, you know, in a very high-level nutshell, what Syntex does, and we can do that, whether it’s images attached to an email, or embedded in an email, or files in SharePoint, or you know, you’ve got images that you want to just identify what’s in the image. Is it a picture of solar panels, like we showed at Ignite; we’ll identify solar panels in the image or do optical character recognition to pull out that text and be able to use it for search and so forth.

So it’s really, I kind of think of it like a little bit of a Swiss army knife for your content with lots of different tools that are, you know, integrated into the knife itself. In our case, that’s Microsoft 365. And yeah, it’s just right there at the ready for you. And I’d say something – the last thing that I’ll note that we’re pretty excited about is the ability for our customers to pay as they go. You don’t have to buy an upfront license that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to use Syntex. It’s right there in Microsoft 365. You set up your very basic billing information, and this isn’t a punch in your credit card or something like that, this is something that your admin does. And then you can start translating documents, summarizing documents, signing documents, getting the capacity for archiving, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, in a really seamless pay-as-you-go fashion.

MARK KASHMAN: Alan, I’d love to just get your perspective on listening to what Ian just said. Knowing of course, a – a primer to the product, and of course, the space, does that land with what you know, you’ve been hearing from customers, or expect to hear from them once they become familiar with what Syntex does?

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: Well, yeah, I mean, it’s – and, and again, you know, just to sort of wave my industry analyst independence flag here, I mean, as I say, there’s – there’s a lot of products coming to market to do this. I mean, the big difference here is that most of the customers out there are already Microsoft customers, so you have a massive advantage here. And, and Syntex and the team have done a pretty good job, I mean, let me say that, but I think just to echo, or maybe to emphasize what Ian was saying there, I mean, you’d be surprised, even in the largest, you know, best-known companies, you want to get a copy of a contract. Trust me, people are digging through email folders to find it. So you know, a lot of this is basic stuff, right? Tagging, summarizing, translating, filing away. It’s all basic stuff, really, but it doesn’t happen inside most organizations. That’s the truth of it, right? It happens in somebody’s head, but you have to kind of ask that person.

So it’s a huge step forward to be able to use content AI to be able to automate these basic administrative steps because, without these basis administrative steps, you actually cant’ do very much, other than store. You really can’t do very much. So it’s one of those things. It’s sort of a sleeping giant, I would say, in the sense that it’s the kind of work nobody wants to do, nobody has ever wanted to do, and in most cases have never done. If you can now automate that with AI, it’s not about just bringing order to chaos; it’s about – you know, absolutely unleashing the value of the content. The benefits here are potentially huge.

I don’t want to overstate it because there’s work to be done, and you know, you – you’ve got to start with baby steps, but over time, this is – this is a very big deal for organizations, you know, this is a real change.

MARK KASHMAN: You know, you mentioned the notion that we have a lot of customers and certainly that is on the backbone of a lot of great progress in technology into the cloud for Microsoft, just the industry and – and getting customers comfortable moving there. And now truly seeing content at scale, they’re in the cloud or moving to it. And I think there’s a bit of more of an expectation of what happens when my content is in the cloud, or lands in the cloud? And that also the benefit in the balance of perception of AI and – and those companies. And I think Microsoft is one of them that can actually do the promise of AI. There are not just this notion of AI, and it’s the next solution to all your problems, but it is also a balance between what value humans and AI bring together, taking off some of the things like Ian mentioned, the – the library and that nobody wants to be, but it’s of benefit to everybody, and moving into them the value of getting through to the business process and not just having to be a content that may or may not bring value.

My hope with this question that I have for Chris is a – a – kind of a branding question. But I think it also leads into you know, what is and why is Microsoft doing more in this space? We’ve said Syntex a few times, Chris. And before Ignite, it was known as SharePoint Syntex, now Microsoft Syntex. Can you give us a little behind the scenes branding around what that name update means? And certainly, I think it encompasses a lot of what we’ve heard already, but just to give us a little foundation of why Microsoft Syntex?

CHRIS MCNULTY: Well, that’s a good question, Mark. Obviously, you know, our roots for content management go way back through SharePoint back to the earliest days of what was Project Tahoe, at the close of the 20th century, in fact. And so it’s made sense, as we’ve been developing all of our AI capabilities that we’re introducing in Microsoft Syntex. It made sense for us to kind of first explore how they worked in and around SharePoint, which was how we’ve originally incubated the product.

When we, though, think about this massive scale and customer demand for these kinds of solutions, we think is really important to signal that, you know, Microsoft is fully committed to carving out this new category of content AI, and our entrance into that space as Microsoft Syntex, to really reflect the fact that we’re not just integrating capabilities that are being developed from the OneDrive and SharePoint teams, but looking left to right across Microsoft to make sure we’re fully integrating the partnerships that we’ve established, whether it’s coming from Power, or the Word team or the Azure teams. And so calling it Microsoft Syntex really helps us convey that comprehensive breadth of what we’re doing beyond kind of our SharePoint history.

MARK KASHMAN: All right, so we know this thing, Microsoft Syntex. We know why we’re doing it. We know what the industry is doing. And we get thoughts both inside and outside of Microsoft of how we’re going about it and – and the effect over time. Ian, I’d like to start with you. You know, there’s a lot of new innovation. There’s the basis of what is Syntex already, but it’s growing. And it’s really growing. You know, a lot of disclosures and announcements for people to learn more about in blogs and updated websites. And of course, through this podcast, we hope to achieve some of that. Where I wanted to start was the – this notion of generating content from templates. Can you speak to a little bit of the design and approach and of course, you know, layer in value and benefits?

IAN STORY: You know, one of the key things that happens, you think about content that comes into an organization, whether that’s an invoice that needs to be paid or an insurance claim that needs to be processed, or a new account opening, or mortgage application or a car loan that needs to get handled and approved or denied, part of that content coming in, yeah, you extract the metadata and you store it, and you make it easy to find, and so forth. But you ultimately need to respond somehow, right? That’s part of the process. And so being able to respond in a standardized fashion, using a template that you can create very easily, just pick a Word document, make sure it’s of course, been reviewed, and approved by your legal department and corporate communications, and so forth before you start just sending these out. Once you have a standard template, you can then take advantage of all that metadata and other information that comes from the business process itself to either bulk generate documents to respond. Maybe those are account statements or something like that. Or on a onesie twosie basis, ad hoc respond, using content assembly.

So imagine, you know, I work in a call center somewhere, and maybe I’m a utility, and you have a problem with one of our services, and you call in and complain and, yep, sure enough, we screwed up. And I need to send you an apology letter. Well, I can pull in your name and your address and what the mishap was that happened to you, and so forth, into a standardized template, and then, you know, email that to you, or print it and stuff it in an envelope and send to you and so forth. And that’s really what this content assembly document generation capability is all about in Syntex.

And you know, it’s a little crazy, we – we’ve been leaders in content creation with Office for decades. And yet, we’ve never really had that easy bulk content generation capability, except for, you know, things like mail merges, and now Syntex is really bringing that in and, of course, all the content that you generate then is managed by the rest of Syntex with all the right metadata and security and retention and sensitivity, and so forth, applied to it. So it’s really like kind of the last mile in getting back to your customers after you have a request that comes in that you need to respond to.

MARK KASHMAN: So you know, if from templates, we can turn a little bit to our – our content processing capabilities. And of course, also at scale. Alan, I’d love to – you know, start with you on this one because I know your firm focuses on document and information processing. And with what you’ve learned with some of the new capabilities for Syntex, you know, maybe just give the – the 101 of content processing leads to X or Y. And with what you know about Syntex, if you wouldn’t mind layering in, from your perspective, how it addresses that.

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: Well, yeah, document processing – I mean this – this term has been around a long time and it – it is what it is, right, document processing documents. So it’s this combination of automation and, you know, the – the document itself, how you actually automate things. So in truth, a lot of things Ian was just talking about there, about assembling documents and invoices, you could say the same thing about processing documents, except in reverse, right? So you’re – you’re accepting something into your organization, you know, take something like an invoice as the most sort of obvious example of – there are thousands of different examples. And you’re extracting out the relevant fields, invoice number, value, addresses, you know, whatever, description of goods, whatever. And using that extracted data, pointing it to the right triggers, and as much as possible, automating what happens to that information and the document through it’s lifecycle.

So an invoice, through it being sort, you know, reviewed, approved and – and paid, that’s basic, but up until today – and again, to pick up on what Ian was just saying about sort of building the documents, it’s been possible to do that, and it’s not – this is not sort of a brand-new concept—far from it—people have been able to do this for – for a very long time, but it’s been very difficult to do and very expensive to do, and often not very accurately done at that.

So the thing is, with Syntex, it’s coming in here at a low price point, and it’s easily accessible, and it relies on advanced AI, and in theory—and I’m sure in practice—you’re basically – you know, it’s just sort of an overused phrase, but you’re basically commoditizing and - and democratizing what have been advanced very-expensive-to-implement technology, and that’s a big deal. You know, even small organizations deal with invoices and contracts and statements, and all sorts of documentation. So anything that helps with that is going to be make customers very happy, indeed, but the key thing here is that the – the concepts are not new. What’s new here is that the technology has moved on a long way, and it’s an awful lot cheaper, it’s an awful lot accurate – more accurate, and it’s an awful lot easier to use.

So the uptick of this, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s – if it’s not very substantial over the next couple of years.

MARK KASHMAN: Ian, any tech bits to fill in there if what Alan is saying, price point, and obviously the technology being the enabler, that you would share around new or – or at least significant to point out, around content processing that Syntex offers?

IAN STORY: First, I’ll thank Alan for basically saying, faster, easier, less expensive. That’s like the Holy Trinity for – in this business. But new and exciting things, we have image tagging, which now can recognize almost 10,000 things in images, automatically, you don’t have to train it. We have taxonomy tagging, that uses the taxonomy that you’ve already built out in SharePoint. You know, things like all the jurisdictions that you do business in, or all your customers, and we’ll automatically tagged documents, again, with no training, based on those jurisdictions and customers and so forth.

More prebuilt models. We’ve announced contracts and ID cards, like passports and so forth, come into Syntex here, shortly. Translation and summarization. You’ve seen those demoed in Satya’s keynote, in fact, where we can translate documents into dozens and dozens of different languages, or many sourced – not any, but again, dozens of sources to dozens of different target languages. Summarizing documents. You know, you get those really long statements of work, and you need to summarize them. So we’ve really increased with a bunch of new services, what we could already do, which was simple extraction of metadata from structured forms, and kind of semi-structured documents, and unstructured documents with kind of computer training or computer teaching, as opposed to computer learning.

So we’re very excited about all the features here, in and around Syntex, to help you with this part of your business.

MARK KASHMAN: Excellent. I think I’m just going to use Syntex to do the audio processing on this podcast, and then we’ll get it converted into 12 different languages. And we’re doing – we’re just going to take The Intrazone to the next level.

IAN STORY: (Laughter.) We can’t synthesize your voice quite yet, but we’ll – we’ll see when we can get that for you and translate this to German, and French, and so forth.

MARK KASHMAN: All right. Well, this is exactly where I wanted to go next because another one of the big announcements wasn’t voice processing, although there’s some sense of digital signature that you both have already provided by introducing yourself and be – making the audience aware of who’s speaking. But there’s a big one that is a part of Syntex now, which is the eSignature, and probably, to Alan’s point, not new to the industry, but very new to Microsoft, and would love to hear your approach to both how we’re doing it, partnering in a way, you know, to accomplish the benefit of what customers want or have. Can you talk a little bit about the approach to eSignature, Ian?

IAN STORY: So, first and foremost, you know, we have really wonderful partners with Adobe Acrobat Sign and DocuSign, and many other signature partners. And so, as we embarked on building an e-signature feature for Syntex, the first thing is any place where you can use our eSignature capabilities, you can use our partners. We are very focused on keeping a vibrant, healthy ecosystem in and around this.

But what we heard from customers just over and over was that they really wanted to keep the content in Microsoft 365. They didn’t want to have to export it, move it out, even if it was just temporary. You know, there’s things about the chain of custody and who has access and what permissions, and so forth. And so, that’s really, you know, from customer necessity, where we’ve built this eSignature capability that you’ll see from us next year, that allows customers to both use a wet signature on a document, like ink, basically, or use digital signature, an electronic signature that actually, you know, cryptographically signs it with a certificate; and of course, use both of those in tandem.

So, we’re thrilled to be bringing that to all of the Microsoft 365 customers out there but would again reiterate but if you’re already using one of our partners, you certainly are welcome to continue to do that.

MARK KASHMAN: Chris, I wanted to throw to you, you know, we’ve mentioned a couple of things around generating content, content processing for that inbound or existing content to be able to make sure it’s processing properly. And now with eSignature, just, you know, we’ll go into a little bit more tech, of course, but to get your perspective on, you know, hearing this and knowing that you’re pretty much putting foot forward on how we market it, and how we talk about it, and of course, how our customers – what they’re saying, just a lens on, you know, what does this mean for getting the word out and your take on some of these features?

CHRIS MCNULTY: Yeah. I mean, I think there’s a couple of trends kind of – and e-signature is a good lens to use to interpret these trends. And they move across two dimensions.

So, the first is, how do we take all of these AI and workflow capabilities that we are orchestrating from across Microsoft, and bring them into the flow of work, which I know is a catchphrase. But from a commercial level, it doesn’t always make sense to bundle up, you know, an exhaustive menu of capabilities, and then go buy expensive licensing, just so everyone in your organization who might ever need to do something has access to it.

So, it’s really about breaking down the availability to a way that everyone can have access to these and only pay for what they need. So, some people need heavy users of a capability like eSignatures. Some people may only lightly need to generate one, maybe once a year. And so, it’s about taking those capabilities that come from all different aspects of Microsoft and introducing them in a way that everyone can benefit from it without a lot of startup cost and getting things deployed.

I think the second thing, and again, eSignature is a good lens on this, is helping you continue to accelerate the value of your content by keeping it all in the M365 platform. You know, there are certainly ways and places where integrating with some other content repositories can make sense for making it searchable.

But we hear a lot from customers who say, you know, “The moment I have an approved contract, it goes off to some other contract management system. And then I can’t really find it all that easily.” And whether it’s looking at things like archiving or e-signature, or some of our line of business integration work that we’re doing, it’s really about keeping that information available to you personally, and also available to that broad range of M365 capabilities so that if you have meta data security, compliance, all of those attributes that you’ve added to your content continue to have value because they stay inside of your trust boundary.

MARK KASHMAN: To the point of if it’s inside your trust boundary, which certainly can be a pretty broad boundary, but the value of the cloud also means you should be able to repurpose the content. You should be able to ingest it just fine and at scale.

But the other area that I want to turn to that I think is really critical, as far as how much awareness does your system have of your content, wherever it resides, is the investments that we’re making with Microsoft Search, and everything that’s been derived from the content, whether it’s from templates or content processing. You have all of this metadata, and on top of that, a better understanding beyond the metadata.

And this might be a kind of a triple punch, because I’d love to get the how important and what role does general search play into this space with Alan, and then to hear, you know, the investments that we’re making, Ian, on the engineering side. And Chris, of course, the broader value of Syntex goes now beyond Syntex, because it’s inclusive of big investments with Search, big investments that we’ll talk about next around access and governance.

But for this one, Alan, do you mind kicking off a little bit of when you’re working with customers, how easy it is for them to find this content, or if they’re finding it challenging, how important that is as a part of the solution?

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: Yeah, it’s – it’s an odd one this because, I mean, search is certainly important. That – there’s no question about that, but the reality is most search doesn’t work very well. And it doesn’t work well because most content isn’t tagged very well, right? And we’ve been sort of saying this for years, but I’ll repeat it on here, because I’m sure most people haven’t heard this analogy anyway.

You know, you’ve got every customer out there in every enterprise, be it government organization, for that matter, that expects their – their work search to work like Google, or Bing, or whatever, right? It’s supposed to work like that. It doesn’t, and they scratch their heads as to why. Well, the reason being the content hasn’t been tagged properly, and the search engine doesn’t know what to do.

So, any improvement to your work search is going to be something which will be very much appreciated by workers to – so that they can actually find things as opposed to e-mailing and – and asking their colleagues, because that’s the reality for a lot of workers today. That’s really their search engine. So, you can’t really underestimate that.

I think the flip side is, the better you manage content – so, again, if you’re automating all of this tagging, if you’re automating categorization, etcetera, then your dependence on search becomes less. And you, in an ideal world, which I don’t think anybody’s at today, but in an ideal world, search is for finding things that are lost, right? It’s not your default. It’s not your starting place. It’s the last place you go. You only use it when you really, really can’t find it. So, it’s a spectrum of problems, really.

Today, most search engines really don’t work very well. It’s not because the search engine is faulty, it’s because the content it’s searching against is very hard to understand, and it’s not labeled. But ultimately, you go on a journey where your search gets better. People like that, but if you really sort of fulfill on the dream here, you reach a point where the search becomes really quite secondary and is a place of last resort, because you know where things are. And they’re prompted to you and they’re where they should be.

MARK KASHMAN: Ian, if that’s a lead into what – what is maybe at scale for the world, a use case or I don’t want to say limitation, but it may be a limitation for how people don’t necessarily have a great search experience, you know, without great tagging or great archiving or, you know, being able to discover it, but can you just speak to, you know, how we’re upping our game and adding to the capabilities of when somebody searches sometimes might be more of an automated experience, because it finds them versus going in searching for it? But just the levels of investment in search for Syntex.

IAN STORY: You know, we’ve started, of course, years ago with Microsoft Search and all the capabilities that we have built and acquired over the years. And it’s, I would say, really, quite good, but it does come down to, as Alan noted, you have to have your content at least a little bit organized, and tagged, and properly secured, and so forth.

And so, that’s where Syntex comes in. It kind of enriches all that content or, to use our marketing term since we have Chris here on the podcast as well, enhances that content to make sure that it’s more easily indexed or more easy to find after it’s been indexed. You know, major improvements that we’ve done, first, it starts with what we call content query, which instead of giving you kind of an Internet-style search, like you might find in Bing or one of the other Internet search engines, or even on your intranet, we give you a rich taxonomy that you can easily customize and extend.

If you’re looking for invoices, instead of saying, I’m looking for invoices from this vendor for this date, and just getting like keywords back, we actually have a structured content query that allows you to specifically find only invoices from that vendor, only invoices, you know, for this specific date and this specific amount, and so forth. It’s a very nice experience, because sometimes folks just use the search to think, oh, well, I didn’t realize I could find things based on the vendor number. Of course, that’s what I’m going to type in, because that will give me an absolute match.

Beyond that, we’re investing in things like Q&A, question and answering, so that you can ask questions and get human answers back instead of just a list of documents. And this is incredibly, you know, overdue in this industry where folks, to this point, really have just these big archives of content that maybe you go in and search, and then you get a bunch of documents back, and maybe you can open the document and get some hit highlighting or jump down to the spot in the document. But to synthesize that as actual knowledge, and this is where we work with things like Viva Topics as well, to get real information back and not just, you know, keywords that came back, that’s a place where Syntex is really, I think, raising the bar.

We’re also adding natural language searches so that if you, you know, just want to search the way you would ask a friend to find this document, instead of using a structured query, we can do that; and then last but not least, semantic understanding where you can just kind of give the gist of what you’re looking for. You don’t know the exact right way to say it, even. And our search can actually understand, again, using these AI capabilities through Syntex Content AI, kind of understand what you were looking for and find the right thing.

So, a lot of investment and improvement to Search that we’re very bullish on and optimistic for.

MARK KASHMAN: So, I’m going to try a little natural language querying of my co-host, Chris Mc-Syntex. Chris, this is for you, in natural language. We’ve gotten a lot around investments to this point, but I think when we really approach IT, and when they’re thinking through how people can better lock down content, based on some of the information that’s derived or processed out of Syntex and if you is the word “enhanced,” I think then Ian proves his point, but how are we enhancing security, and access and government when we think of the value that Syntex brings for lifecycle management, for storage? You know, there’s a lot that now comes or is a part of Syntex,

CHRIS MCNULTY: Well, if – if you go back and think about that – that run rate of adding a billion-point-six documents a day to M365, it’s really hard to, like, bring that into human centric understanding of what the processes are, which is why we’ve architected Syntex the way we have. That extends to management. So, we have an increasing number of customers who have billions of pieces of content in M365.

And so, one of the best ways of helping people manage that in the aggregate, rather than dealing with onesie-twosie access requests, is being able to establish policies to use simple rules to move less used content into storage tiers, which run at a reduced cost to kind of match the expectation for how people are working with that content, being able to protect information with backup and restore capabilities, and to use AI to discover parts of your information architecture, that are currently at risk of being over shared, to be able to deploy fine-grained conditional access policies, to shape the way that a particularly external parties get access to that content, and to enlist site owners in periodic reviews of that content.

So, the scale of AI helps an admin drill into the areas where they should be focusing their attention to make sure that information is being stored, protected and secure throughout that lifecycle.

MARK KASHMAN: Ian, you know, there’s been a lot of capabilities have been brought into Syntex, some very specific to IT and managing content. You know, is there anything that you want to add there, Ian?

IAN STORY: Yeah. I think we’ve heard for so long from our customers that you really want a backup capability, that you really want tiered storage and archival capability, that you want even more security around managing, you know, sensitivity, and internal and external folks, and who can see what and, you know, more reporting and data, and so forth around your content. And so, we’ve – we’ve made a lot of investments there with Syntex with, you know, a full-on backup and restore capability, and an archiving capability, bringing tiered storage at a lower price point to Syntex.

And so, there’s a lot there for the IT folks that are listening in, and the folks that have to manage all this content beyond all the unbelievable content AI and end user value that we provide.

MARK KASHMAN: Yeah, and it really wraps up, you know, so much IT value that pays off, of course, if there is work that can be offboarded from IT having to do some of this deeper work. And the benefits automatically come to end users when they can automate their processes, and – and certainly everything that we’ve talked about up until this point. A lot of that depends on, then what is the storage mechanism? And how much of – of the solution is the storage component helping? So, that’s great to hear.

CHRIS MCNULTY: Yeah. You know, I would just observe that some of the work that we’re doing on that security management piece also, it’s really important to set the technology so it can be an IT business partnership, because if you’re in IT, and you’re being asked to supervise 10,000 sites, and you get a flag that, hey, there may be oversharing happening on, you know, the Project Delta site, you go over there. You look and you see, there’s 10 internal people and three external people. How do you know if that security makes sense, unless you kind of dig deeply and inject yourself into that project?

So, providing a way to let IT offer service to those content owners in a way that enlists their guidance, I think, is another way that we can sort of accelerate that business technology partnership here.

MARK KASHMAN: So, I’m betting that a lot of presentations, conferences, consultations, of course, this podcast that you get brought on, lands at some point to ask you what does the future hold. And I think we’ve heard a lot of technology and a lot of – of customer requests or customer requirements, as far as what they need to better manage their content. And I hope that our audience is really starting to see what is Syntex and how does it help them with a lot of those challenges.

But if we were to put on your futuristic hat, whether it’s like Johnny Carson would do with the card to his head, or something like the Zoltar machine in Big, and your customers are asking you these same questions, what is it that they can start thinking to ensure that their content, security, processing, a lot of the automation and everything is intact and working for them? Really just want to understand, you know, what – what do you tell every customer as they go forward?

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: Yeah. I mean, as an industry analyst, theoretically, we have crystal balls, and we can tell where the market is going to be in 10 years’ time. It’s not quite as simple as that, unfortunately. But I – I think there’s a couple of things going on here.

One I think I’ve already touched on, is that, you know, you’re – you’re basically, with Syntex, you’re automating the work that people don’t want to do, have never wanted to do and, frankly, will never do. Nobody wants to add metadata to a file. Nobody wants to file a document away in the right place. They – they’ve, again, never have never will. So, just that alone is a great step forward.

But I think what’s exciting is that, you know, we’ve got advances in AI now. Those advances have come at an incredibly fast pace over the last five years. So, just like everything else we’ve talked about on this podcast, none of this is new, right? AI is not new. It’s how much easier it is, how much quicker it is, how much more accurate is and how much more affordable it is.

And so, with – with that in mind, you know, we’ve – we’ve got this potential to really rethink, reimagine, reinvent the way the back office, not just the back office, but how back-offices work. I think that’s what’s exciting, and I think that’s what does excite some of the people we speak to, in that, you know, ultimately, the world of document management and workflow, right up to this current day, has always just simply mimicked paper processes. No matter how digital it is, it’s always just been a copy, but an electronic copy of manual paper activities. But with AI, we’ve got the potential here to – to really rethink it and say, is there a better way? And in many cases, there are.

So, if we touch on something Ian mentioned earlier around contracts, I mean, contracts are big, hairy, dangerous things, right? But if you’re able to, you know, in a few years’ time, bring in AI that can not just read them, but genuinely understand, to a large degree, what they are, you know, you can have them triggering clauses. You know, you can have automatic renewal of contracts or automatic closure of contracts. And that’s sort of interesting, but it’s revolutionary if you’re a law office. It’s revolutionary if you’re in the accounting department.

So, I think the potential here is – is that we have, over the next however many years, an opportunity to absolutely reinvent the way we’ve been working for the last 50, 60, maybe even 100 years. And that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s really not. The technology can do it. A lack of imagination and maybe just a lack of knowing where to start, for many organizations, is the biggest barrier, not the technology.

CHRIS MCNULTY: Yeah, I’m glad to hear you say that. You know, I had a similar point of view for a couple of years that one of the things that holds people back is a failure of imagination, you know, to imagine that things actually could be better. And the technology enables it, but people need to be inspired, I do think, to ask the questions about is there a better way of doing this, instead of just continuing along the same old, same old path that they’ve been on for years.

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: Yes, and – and it’s true. I mean, you know, to give a sort of nonsense Syntex, although Syntex could certainly play in this space, I did some work pre-pandemic in supply chain. And, you know, there was a bunch of – I won’t go into the technology or the startups, but there was a bunch of startups who came along who could really revolutionize the supply chain operations from – from start to end, dramatically reduce costs, dramatically reduce the number of disputes – I mean, really exciting stuff.

Those – those startups went nowhere. And the reason they went nowhere is that people just couldn’t get their head around it. This is the way it’s always been done. And it was a lack of imagination. I think maybe not those startups, but I think, you know, the supply chain will change. But that’s our biggest challenge, is educating exciting, empowering people and – and, frankly, getting them to have a passion around what is, dare I say it, ultimately a boring topic, right, paperwork. But getting them passionate about that and the possibilities, that’s our biggest challenge.

I mean, the technology is just… I – I’ve been doing this a long time, and it’s hard to describe just how much better the technology today is that it was just five years ago. (Laughter.)

IAN STORY: So, Alan, I’ll – I’ll play on that, and I’ll say when you say technology, in our world, that means Syntex, so much better than this technology was five years ago. But, you know, it’s not just, to me, the lack of imagination. I think it’s the lack of empowerment for folks to actually make these changes. I think there are folks in all these departments that process documents in every organization that can imagine that better way, but they’re just not empowered.


IAN STORY: There’s so many processes and constraints. And this system only does this, and you can’t use it for that. We’re not licensed for it, and so forth. And that’s, you know, to such a large degree, what we’ve always done at Microsoft is take these very powerful capabilities and get them into the hands of more folks, and at a lower price point, and with more flexibility and more integration that lets you start to take the imagination that you have and, you know, make it happen, right?

And that’s – that’s really what I’m the most excited about with Syntex, is getting this stuff that, you know, has been the domains of developers, and data scientists and so forth, and get it, you know, more into the hands of folks that can, you know, just like, say, 20 years ago, what SharePoint did for ECM, now bringing, you know, Microsoft Syntex to the table to do this for AI for everyone.

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: Yeah, and I agree with you, and – and I’m going to do something which I rarely ever do, which I’ll be an optimist. I actually think that there’s never been a better time for change. You know, we can’t sort of blame it all on the pandemic, but there’s just been so many shifts over the last couple of years that, you know, people are open to new ideas and doing things better.

I spoke at a conference just a few weeks ago to a lot of people from higher education. And we were talking about the sort of reinvention of the credentials of – of academic credentials, and the systems and processes there. And I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty darn sure that if I’d given that same taught three or four years before, people would have been polite about it, I hope, and would have said, that’s a nice idea, maybe one day. No, not this time. They’re taking down notes, they’re asking questions. They want to do it.

So, I think we’re in a world now where I don’t know how long this window of opportunity will last, but I think people do want change. And they are open to new ideas.

I come back to, though, my – my challenge here is that they’re excited about it, they do want change, but they don’t really know how to start. You can’t just go in and say, hey, I’ve got better technology. (Laughter.) You know, you’ve got to actually say, well, this is how we get you from where you are today to where you want to be in the future. And they need their hands holding. But I think their hands are – I’m mangling analogies here, but I think that their hands are outstretched. They – they want that.

MARK KASHMAN: Anytime Syntex comes up or the conversations like this, I can’t help but think a lot of customers might be staring at that warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. And it’s just boxes and content, and the Ark of the Covenant gets put to who knows where, and whenever that might be discovered again. That might be a little silly way to frame it, but it – it does sound a lot of how you describe the now, even if it’s somebody’s recent past, you know, that they’ve come from there, and they’ve just got a lot more to go.

But off of what Alan was just ending on there with where to start, maybe that’s where we end. To both Chris and Ian, Ian, I’d love to start, you know, just to understand if somebody were to get their hands on Syntex to – to give it a trial or to try out some capabilities, where does a common customer start with Syntex? Where would you suggest?

IAN STORY: Two things right off the top of my mind: Number one, we have today, and you don’t even need Syntex or any kind of license from Syntex or pay-as-you-go to use this. We have an assessment tool, the Syntex Assessment tool. You can run that against your environment today, just the things you have access to. It doesn’t even have to be a system administrator that runs it. You can run it against your sites, the ones that you manage as a person on the business side. And it can help identify places where Syntex can help.

Hey, there’s a whole bunch of content over here that doesn’t have any metadata on it, or hey, there’s a whole bunch of metadata structure set up over here, but people aren’t using it. That’s the first thing.

And then once you identify some of those places, before you start building models, which, again, can be built in minutes trained on just a handful, five or six documents. But before you do that, try the pre-built models that we have, whether that’s image tagging, or taxonomy tagging, or even one of the prebuilts to recognize receipts or invoices or student contracts and ID cards, start – start with something like that. You know, find a place that has the need, and we can help identify that, and then use one of the prebuilts that are really easy to use, even translation or summarization, right, before you have to start building custom models, and so forth.

That’s probably where you’ll end up, is doing lots of really interesting custom things with, again, minutes of work, not hours or days or weeks of training. But start really simple. Find the place and use one of the prebuilt things to tag all your images, or tag all your documents or process some invoices, or some receipts, or some contracts or some ID cards.

MARK KASHMAN: Chris, do you mind expanding just a little on that and peppering in, when – when it’s appropriate, a couple of links that I know you’ve got up your sleeve?

CHRIS MCNULTY: Yeah. So at Ignite this week, we are landing kind of a world of videos to help explain and let you see what these experiences look like in action. These are being distributed across our Web properties, and they are in a couple of different places. But if there’s one URL to remember, it would be, which will bring you to our product page. And from there, you can navigate to our adoption hub with more extensive videos, customer evidence, white papers and the like.

If there’s a second URL that you’re going to let me promote, it’s going to be, which provides you an overview of everything that we’re doing and engaging at Ignite, along with some guidance as to how to get started with workshops, how to experience the right demos, and how to think about the kinds of processes in your organization where Syntex may have the most relevance, including links to our assessment tool and more.

MARK KASHMAN: Very good. Well, I will make sure those are in the show notes and in the blog. And of course, I know they’re going to be lots of places. And maybe this is an appropriate time where we can re-up the – the rights that we have to Start Me Up, the music from the Windows 95 launch. That’s probably still within our realm.

Joking aside, thank you all for joining The Intrazone. Congratulations to the – all the innovation that went into what I know internally, we’ve talked about a while as Syntex 2.0, but it really is times, you know, 10 or 20. It’s just a huge growth spike here at the Ignite moment and beyond. And, Alan, thank you for your perspective today. Appreciate you all being here on The Intrazone.

IAN STORY: Well, thanks so much for having us, Mark. And we’re thrilled for everyone to go out and try out Microsoft Syntex. It’s been great being here.

CHRIS MCNULTY: Yeah, Mark, thanks for letting me swivel the chair around and be on kind of the other side of the interview this time. I just want to, you know, in closing, just reflect back to the audience.

You know, our work is not done. You know, we think we’re very excited about everything that we’re landing, but we are really interested in getting your feedback and making sure that we’re providing kind of the best ways for you to engage our capabilities in the flow of work. So definitely, please be in touch.

ALAN PELZ-SHARPE: And yeah, thank you for inviting me. It’s been a great discussion. I’m really interested as an analyst, and to see where this all goes. I’ll be watching it very closely, as will my colleagues at Deep Analysis. And if you want some independent sort of viewpoints, you can always check out our website where our research is open source. But again, thank you for inviting me. I really appreciate it and enjoyed the conversation.


CHRIS MCNULTY: Up next on The Intrazone, events. This week, we’re returning to Microsoft Ignite Live. And we’re really excited to be able to spotlight current and upcoming events here on The Intrazone.

MARK KASHMAN: Yeah. So, on this day of this podcast going live, Microsoft Syntex news out there. Where we funneled a lot of that news and excitement was through Microsoft Ignite. It’s happening right now, October 12th through the 14th. There’s a lot of great sessions live, on demand. You can – you can dive into, get registered, get in and access the content. But like we said, it’s happening now.

There’s a lot of content for Syntex, both in person, and online and on demand. You’ll hear from Jeff. You can meet Chris. There’s a whole lot of things coming from Ian and Sean (ph) and Kristen (ph). The whole Syntex team is firing on all pistons. And guess what? So is the Viva team, and so is the SharePoint team, and the Teams team, and the Azure team. It’s Microsoft coming together as one, big party of news, big disclosures, big announcements from keynotes to breakout sessions to on demand. And if you’re in a couple of the regions where we’re doing regional spotlights, there are six of them. Raise your hand and try to get into those in person, if you’re in any of those six regions.

We’ll put a link with all the information. Of course it’s happening now. So, it’s a hurry up if you want to get engaged, but a lot of the content will live on – very quickly on demand. So, that will be almost in immediately available to you.

CHRIS MCNULTY: Also coming up incredibly quickly, this weekend, October 14th and 15th the South Coast Summit. This will be happening at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, not the one on Long Island, Southampton, UK for our friends across the pond.

MARK KASHMAN: Next coming across the pond back from England to New England, that is Collab Days New England, October 22nd. This is in person in Burlington, Massachusetts at the Microsoft MTC. That is the Microsoft Technology Center, really cool building, lot of great local folks that are helping put on that show. We know one of them. They’ve been on this show before, Chris Bortlik. But there’s a lot of great people, of course, from the community all gathering together. It’s one of those big SharePoint Saturdays that isn’t called that anymore, bringing together multiple SharePoint Saturdays into one. It is now Collab Days New England, October 22nd.

CHRIS MCNULTY: And if you’re in the Boston area, you have no reason not to go because the Red Sox are absolutely not playing that day. (Laughter.)

MARK KASHMAN: (Laughter.) You heard it here first on The Intrazone. Chris, what is our last kind of –kind of a little bit further down the road, but a really nice event that’s coming around the corner?

CHRIS MCNULTY: It’s further down the road, but it’s not that far. It is next month, so the other side of U.S. Thanksgiving. The European SharePoint Conference, ESPC 22 will be kicking off November 28th in Copenhagen, Denmark. This has always been a really large event for Microsoft’s European community. We tend to bring a decent number of folks over from Redmond as well. But you will be able to meet over 100 speakers, and there’s usually a great crowd. Jeff Teper is delivering one of the event keynotes, and it’s a real don’t miss if you’re free.

MARK KASHMAN: Yeah, so Jeff’s bringing it. We also have Heather Newman, who has a Power Platform oriented keynote. Vesa Juvonen is going to be one, doing one for developers specifically, and also Scott Hanselman. So, there are four Microsoft keynotes. There are probably about 20 to 25 Microsoft sessions right next to all of the community and MVP sessions. I’ve seen the list of sessions. If you haven’t, we have a link in the show notes. It’s a really great show, and always a really nice event that this team puts on.

CHRIS MCNULTY: And of course, if you have an event coming up to spotlight on a future episode of The Intrazone, just write to the show and we’ll be happy to share the news.

MARK KASHMAN: We want to thank our guests, Ian Story and Alan Pelz-Sharpe. And Chris, I want to double thank you for being co-host and guest this go around. And to all of you for being on the show and for giving us insights about the value and feature set of this thing we now call Microsoft Syntex.

CHRIS MCNULTY: And you’re doubly welcome. We encourage you to check out our show page for links to all of what was discussed today and more. Go to

MARK KASHMAN: You can send us your questions and feedback for the SharePoint teams anytime. You can reach us via e-mail at or via Twitter @SharePoint, @MKashman and @CMcNulty 2000.

CHRIS MCNULTY: Of course, thank you for listening and supporting The Intrazone. Remember to rate, review and tell all your friends about the show. Follow the show at Ignite or wherever you get your favorite tech podcasts.

MARK KASHMAN: We thank you for listening. We’re your hosts, Mark Kashman and Chris McNulty. And this has been The Intrazone, a show about the Microsoft 365, AI is for letters, invoicing, and contracts at scale intelligent intranet.