M-Files: Making Moves on the Fringes of ECM

“When people think of ECM, they think of managing documents,” said Greg Milliken, VP of marketing at M-Files Corporation. Milliken explained that there is a lot of information locked away in different critical systems that are driving businesses, but most ECM systems are built on the idea that information should be stored and managed in their system. “In the traditional world of ECM, how data is managed is subjective because the focus is typically on where the data or document is located.” This design is proving problematic given the current atmosphere where information is often stored across disparate systems.

“We’re in the ECM market, per se,” said Milliken. “But you’ll also hear us refer to ourselves as enterprise information management.” M-Files sets out to do the same thing as every other ECM system: merge people, content, and processes, but what puts M-Files on the fringes of the ECM galaxy is in how it facilitates this merger.

“M-Files doesn’t care where you put information, because the system takes an entirely different approach to organizing information. A contract is a contract, and an invoice is an invoice, no matter where they are stored,” said Milliken. “M-Files organizes content objectively, based on what something is instead of where it’s stored.” In M-Files, file-folder hierarchies take a back seat to context.

What’s different about M-Files is that it doesn’t try to replace your existing systems or add another repository that needs to be managed into the mix. Instead, the solution is built around existing infrastructure, bridging users to information locked away across various systems like CRMs or ERPs via one interface. This way, when users search for an invoice, for example, they are also presented with other information relevant to that invoice, such as the customer, vendor, or other related documents and information, such as a proposal or contract.

The system’s architecture lends itself well to high user adoption. “People resist change, and especially in bigger companies,” Milliken said. Be it organizational inertia or plain old human stubbornness, low adoption rates can hurt ROI all the same. The platform’s new Intelligent Metadata Layer helps customers sidestep some huge issues: data migration and managing change in the organization. “When you deploy a new ECM solution, it requires organizational change, and that can stifle innovation generated from smaller pockets in your business,” said Milliken. Department heads or managers of workgroups can still be innovative within M-Files because they can leverage the platform to enrich and repurpose existing information based on need. And since the Intelligent Metadata Layer technology “unifies multiple systems and repositories based on the context while the actual content and data remains in place,” data migration isn’t even an issue.