Innovation of Microsoft Ignite 2020

Under the working title Project Cortex, Microsoft presented for the first time at last year's developer and expert conference Ignite 2019 its vision of how the use of artificial intelligence can revolutionize knowledge management in enterprises. Up to now this was still theory. But at the start of this year's Microsoft Ignite 2020, plans for the new AI solution for Microsoft 365 were put into concrete terms – and the launch of SharePoint Syntex, a central component of Project Cortex, was announced for October 1st.  

Automatically generated knowledge – always where you need it

Project Cortex automatically analyzes any data in Microsoft 365, extracts the information it contains, tags it with keywords and inserts it in a prepared form into a central knowledge hub. It does not matter from which source the data originates – from Teams, SharePoint or Yammer. External third-party data sources can also be seamlessly integrated via Microsoft Search. This creates a knowledge network that automatically organizes and permanently updates all relevant content according to common subject areas such as projects, products and processes. The knowledge gained in this way is made available in a situation-specific way via apps that employees know from their everyday work – for example, information on a special term that requires explanation when reading a news article in SharePoint, an e-mail in Outlook or a chat message in Teams.  

The functionalities behind Project Cortex are made available in the form of autonomous and independent services – SharePoint Syntex is the first step. For this year, another service has been announced that will provide additional functionalities.  

SharePoint Syntex – the first service from Project Cortex

The focus of the Ignite sessions was on the new content service for capturing and preparing any type of content from Microsoft 365. The AI technologies used for this purpose process both structured and unstructured data including graphics and images. The new service embeds itself natively in SharePoint and provides all required functionalities in a new type of site, the so-called Content Center. There, metadata can be automatically generated for all analyzed documents, which greatly simplifies their management and further processing – for example regarding compliance: Sensitivity and retention labels can be automatically assigned based on the metadata. Through close integration of Power Automate, SharePoint Syntex also opens exciting prospects for the digitization of previously paper-based processes. 

Further services within Project Cortex

This year, SharePoint Syntex is to be supplemented by a second service, which will provide further functionalities from Project Cortex: The focus here is on the extraction of so-called “Topics” and the creation of a central knowledge database. This service also integrates seamlessly into the existing SharePoint infrastructure and provides context-related information in the form of “Topic Cards”. 

More information about the background and ambitions of Project Cortex can be found in this blog post. Another blog post on Project Cortex summarizes the application scenarios in which existing data can be refined into directly usable knowledge and the advantages that result from this.