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SharePoint Premium: intelligent information management for vanguard organizations


Microsoft SharePoint Premium offers several additional features that make using and managing SharePoint environments and their contents easier.

Interpretation of SharePoint Premium by the Dall-E language model-based AI solution according to my prompt.

What is SharePoint Premium?

Microsoft’s new SharePoint product has already had several names, which may be typical for Microsoft, and yet this latest name change can be considered successful and very much to point, nevertheless. SharePoint Premium offers premium features and functionalities for organizations that need more than what is included in a standard SharePoint Online subscription, hence the name.

We first heard of SharePoint Premium services under the name Project Cortex. Those were first offered to wider audiences as preview versions under the names SharePoint Syntex and later Microsoft Syntex. Some of the documentation still bears the Syntex name, which should not be forgotten entirely just yet. Even though the service selection of SharePoint Premium is slightly different from the selection of Microsoft Syntex, it is still originally the same thing.

As a product, it is still a bit difficult to grasp, as it contains very different additional features; the most significant common factor is that they somehow expand SharePoint’s range of features and user experience.

What does SharePoint Premium offer?

At the time of writing, most of the services are already publicly available in either preview or production versions, although not all of them are yet available to European users. The slowing factor will probably be the scaling of the necessary data center services in the geographically correct areas. The data of European users can only be stored in the EU/EEA area, even temporarily, based on the European data protection policy and agreements between Microsoft and the EU.

The feature selection of SharePoint Premium is breathtakingly extended:

  • Microsoft 365 Archive
    • Microsoft 365 Archive (preview) offers a native, integrated electronic archive within the Microsoft 365 service, to which only entire SharePoint sites and Microsoft Teams groups can be transferred for the time being.
    • The pricing of the service is based on the amount of archived data. The service can be recommended mainly for organizations that have to pay for extra SharePoint Online storage space because the price of Microsoft 365 Archive storage space is about a third of the price of additional SharePoint Online storage space.
    • There is no access to the content of archived sites, but they must be restored, i.e., reactivated if the content is needed after archiving. Restoring sites or groups from the archive is also subject to a fee.
  • Microsoft 365 Backup​
    • Microsoft 365 Backup (preview) is an easy-to-use, cost-effective backup service for SharePoint Exchange and OneDrive content. With the service, organizations can, secure against data loss and, for example, the continuity of their operations in a ransomware attack scenario.
    • The desired contents are selected within the scope of the service, which can then be restored to the return points, which are available every 15 minutes for the last 14 days and every week for the previous period, up to a year ago. Contents older than one year cannot be restored, but I cannot think of a data loss scenario that would require reverting to versions older than one year. And there are other products for that.
  • Content processing
    • Content processing offers different artificial intelligence models, which can be used to identify and extract content from documents for use automatically.
    • Most of the data of organizations using Microsoft 365 services is in an unstructured form. In practice, only a fraction of this is information; the majority is presentation and other control information.
      • Often, only a tiny part of the information content itself is usable and necessary in terms of further utilization, and it is precisely in identifying and extracting this valuable content that content processing can be helpful.
      • For example, such use cases are automatic form recognition and extracting invoice information based on a repeating string.
  • Content Query
    • Content query is a more advanced Microsoft search in SharePoint libraries. It enables search restrictions based on metadata columns easily and quickly in the search interface.
  • Optical character recognition
    • Optical character recognition, or OCR, may be necessary to create digital documents from image files containing, for example, printed or handwritten text.
  • Annotations
    • Marginal notes for .pdf (and .ai, .dwg, .epub, .rtf, and .tiff) documents, either for yourself or for sharing with other users, allow you to comment on and add notes to non-editable documents.
  • Image tagging
    • Tagging images, i.e., creating tags using artificial intelligence and automatically adding them to the Image Tags column of the managed metadata.
  • SharePoint eSignature
    • SharePoint eSignature (US only), i.e., the native electronic signature service, is currently available in the US market and will become available in other parts of the world during 2024. Initially, this service only supports pdf files.
  • Taxonomy tagging
    • Taxonomy tagging analyzes the document’s content with the help of generative artificial intelligence and automatically selects the metadata that describes the document’s content from the terms of the given managed metadata term set.
    • Identification is not only based on searching for keywords in the document’s content but also on the semantic analysis of its content, i.e., the interpretation of its meaning content with the help of artificial intelligence.
  • Content assembly
    • Compiling content using modern file templates is suitable when it is necessary to create standard format documents in which only certain parts of the content change.
    • Content can be imported into the changing parts either from the input provided by the user, from the metadata of another document or list item, or, for example, with the help of Power Automate workflow, thus automating the creation of the entire document. Content assembly currently only supports Microsoft Word files.
    • In addition to content that can be supplemented based on metadata, modern file models also support conditional sections so that, for example, by selecting a specific metadata value, a paragraph or section is added to the document that would otherwise not be displayed.
  • SharePoint Embedded
    • SharePoint Embedded offers a new way to manage files and documents as part of any application, incorporating Microsoft 365 features such as collaboration, compliance requirements, and content management.
    • SharePoint Embedded offers an API-based model for developing content applications without a Microsoft graphical user interface.

A complementary selection of features

As the newest newcomers to SharePoint Premium’s range of features, Microsoft announced on February 16, 2024, that the SharePoint Premium Translations service for translations will soon be publicly available. The service’s purpose is to automatically enable the translation of entire documents from one language to another while preserving formatting. The service supports 110 different languages, including Finnish.

SharePoint Premium autofill columns, i.e., the automatic metadata completion, are coming during 2024. Based on the demo, it looks like the taxonomy classifications but SharePoint Premium autofill columns enable the artificial intelligence-guided creation of various types of metadata columns and the populating of values based on examples and artificial intelligence.

What about pricing of SharePoint Premium?

SharePoint Premium has two pricing models: pay-as-you-go billed according to usage and per-user model. In the future, SharePoint Premium will (probably) be based only on services billed according to use (pay-as-you-go), since Microsoft Syntex SharePoint Advanced Management is a distinct product under its per user assigned license.

SharePoint Premium pay-as-you-go services require an Azure subscription, and they are billed based on actual usage through Azure. For example, a service of automatic metadata classification marking based on the use of generative artificial intelligence costs $0.05/transaction: Pay-as-you-go services and pricing for Microsoft Syntex – Microsoft Syntex | Microsoft Learn

Some services, such as Content Query, are free of charge during the Try out Microsoft Syntex and explore its services – Microsoft Syntex | Microsoft Learn campaign until June 30, 2024.

SharePoint Premium or Copilot?

SharePoint Premium is not part of the Copilot product family, although there are apparent similarities. Both can be part of an organization’s AI strategy implementation plan.

While Copilot is more of a personal productivity tool, SharePoint Premium’s range of features is designed to support business and information management processes in certain carefully thought-out use cases. Part of SharePoint Premium’s feature selection brings artificial intelligence into the user experience and user interaction with its contents.

Read more about artificial intelligence:

Henry Scheinin
Leading consultant, Partner

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