Digital transformation and intelligent information management touch every business. The transformation is driven by the need for more efficient office work while retaining compliance with new regulations.
When finding, accessing, sharing and managing information, businesses often still rely on multiple disconnected data repositories and silos. Knowledge workers need to know in which system, on which SharePoint site or in which network folder relevant and important information is stored. This can create inefficiencies because the ways to save and archive information vary from person to person.
Intelligent information management is about more than just documents
Files and documents are just a part of the total data that organizations need to manage. Structural data is just as important and needs to be managed in connection with non-structured data, i.e. content. Therefore, we talk about intelligent information management rather than document management or ECM.
The leading research company Gartner has also renamed the new generation of ECM as “content services”. The new information management solutions offer a fresh approach to how information is stored and managed. The repository or system of storage is no longer relevant. The new breed of information management platforms offers a federated approach rather than one centralized system.
The dark data struggle
There are tools to manage information efficiently, but what is preventing businesses from doing so? The number of information doubles about every 16 months. Information workers have no means to process all the relevant data unless there are new ways to process it.
Veritas estimates that about half of corporate data is so-called dark data. This sort of data is stored on corporate systems and repositories, but it cannot be utilized in business decision making as it has not been analyzed and it is not available when needed.
Due to the problems in finding relevant documents when necessary, our experience tells that about 80 percent of documents never get used again and 70 percent of documented information is recreated.
As a result, information workers spend about a third of their working time just looking for information. They don’t know where it is stored, who saved it, or how it is named. It is also important to be able to identify business-critical information from irrelevant clutter and to always discover data that matters in context at a particular time.
It is not about cloud or on premises. It is about having both
The trend is pretty clear: software vendors are rapidly moving their offerings to the cloud and CIOs remain busy planning their cloud strategy. Some organizations adopt cloud solutions faster than others, but most organizations eventually want to consume cloud services.
While your organization might want to benefit from recent investments to a local data centre or private cloud infrastructure now, your needs for information management systems may change when you update your other IT solutions, such as your ERP“>ERP system to a modern cloud-based solution. You should not see cloud only as a storage service either: you can often leverage modern cloud-based AI services to process the data that needs to reside behind the corporate firewall, for example.
No more manual updates
Many B2B cloud-solutions offer a limited feature set or sub-par usability because they are only browser-based. The modern cloud solutions take advantage of native applications and therefore offer the best user experience on any device. For example, a vast majority of M-Files cloud and on-premises customers use the native Windows application (M-Files Desktop) for daily work because it offers seamless integration to Windows and the best user experience for most information management use cases.
However, updating all clients is quite an effort and takes a lot of time from IT. This is a dilemma for all if the efficiency of IT stalls the efficiency of users. Updates might also be delayed and pushed forward to avoid the manual update task. So far, all ECM platforms have shared this problem.
This is a pity because modern software development is based on continuous integration and continuous deployment of updates. This allows vendors to release a new software version even a few times a day when needed. The new way of working changes how critical error fixes, security patches, or even new features can be delivered to customers.
It is no secret that banks and insurance companies are caught in the middle of several converging disruptive forces. PricewaterhouseCoopers says in their article Top financial services industry issues:
“Financial institutions are in a bind. Legacy systems, processes, and relationships make innovation extremely difficult, even as new technology ramps up user expectations and attract new competitors. Many firms still struggle with making a digital transformation”>digital transformation, even as their future growth may depend on it.”
Many of the disruptive forces facing financial institutions would be enough by themselves to create disruptive pressures; banks and insurance companies are facing all of them at once:
- Legacy information management systems built up over many years.
- The massive M&A activity that occurred in the wake of the 2008 crash — an activity that created a huge integration and rationalization challenge between those legacies (and often incompatible) systems from different companies.
- Huge legacy investments in “repository-centric” content management, focused on where a document is stored rather than what it is.
- Rising regulatory requirements tied directly to how information is managed and by whom.
- New “FinTech” competitors (e.g., Amazon, Alibaba, WeChat, Apple, Google) seeking to cherry-pick particularly profitable business lines from the existing players — and are able to leapfrog legacy technologies to more modern approaches.
- A new generation of “digital native” banking and insurance customers with vastly different customer experience expectations than traditional customers.
A survey by AIIM of executives from 48 banks and insurance companies confirms this:
91% of respondents said, “Our information management strategy needs to be modernized to meet modern problems.”
93% said, “Digitizing and standardizing business inputs is one of the key bottlenecks for Digital Transformation.”
57% stated, “My organization is concerned that we could face serious disruption of our business model in the next 2 years.”
Randy Bean, CEO and managing partner of NewVantage Partners, described the dilemma this way in Forbes: “In his 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway creates an apt metaphor for the nature of innovative and disruptive change. When a character in the novel is asked ‘How did you go bankrupt?’ he replies, ‘Two ways, gradually, and then suddenly.’”
So how should a besieged financial services executive approach these myriad challenges? Sometimes it’s best to start a long and complicated journey at the beginning.
Deloitte’s 2018 Banking Outlook points to the importance of maximizing the productivity and effectiveness of knowledge workers, and refocusing their efforts from rote and repetitive work to work that delivers greater value: “[B]anks will likely need to reorient existing workforces to be collaborative and inclusive, while providing them with more integrated employee experiences — from recruitment to retirement — to mirror the richer customer experience that the workforce is enabling.”
Here are two data points from AIIM research to focus your thinking about this key starting point — the tools used on a day-to-day basis by knowledge workers.
On average, 58% of the unstructured content and information used in enterprise business systems (like ERP, HR, Finance, CRM, and Project Management) is stored WITHIN those enterprise systems (and thus unavailable to other processes) INSTEAD OF in a Content Management System.
Why this is important: Many legacy content management systems were designed around custom, large-volume, mission-critical processes. These systems did the job within this process, but they were not designed for easy integration with other core enterprise applications. The resulting silos of information tied up in a single process, application-specific repositories now stand in the way of the efforts of banks and insurance companies to redefine their business processes around customer experiences.
A key requirement for any intelligent information management solution should be ease of integration into core line-of-business applications, delivered through content services that can be scaled to the needs of a particular process.
Almost 50% of financial services executives describe their management of Microsoft Office docs (like Word and Excel and PowerPoint) as “chaotic” or “somewhat unmanaged.”
Why this is important: Legacy content management systems focused on somehow convincing knowledge workers to put their work into the “right” repository, and to also make sure they assigned the appropriate metadata along the way. The reality of work in the banking and insurance industry in the past decade — a story of consolidation and need to get more done with fewer people — made this expectation totally unreasonable. As a result, a large portion of day-to-day business documents wound up unmanaged.
In this environment, simply finding the right document when it was needed often seems impossible. Where was that file saved? Who edited it last? A more modern approach to managing business documents is to organize content based on what it is rather than where it is stored. And to do so in terms that make sense to knowledge workers in the normal course of their work automatically assigns the metadata needed to create a framework for future AI and machine learning applications.
Digital transformation in financial services begins with making life simpler for knowledge workers who are increasingly overwhelmed by the rising tide of information chaos… and that means Intelligent Information Management.
Just about everyone in the technology space is familiar with the ubiquitous Gartner Magic Quadrants. If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the quick hit. Every year, Gartner publishes research that provides a graphical competitive positioning of technology providers in over 100 fast-growing IT product categories. This year, M-Files was recognized for the third consecutive year as a Visionary in the Content Services Platforms (CSP) Magic Quadrant.
What some may not know is that Gartner also publishes a companion report, which “provides deeper insight into the capability and suitability of providers’ IT products and services based on specific or customized use cases.”
For our category, it’s called the Gartner Critical Capabilities Report for CSPs. Essentially, this provides the raw data and vendor rankings that underpin vendor positioning in the Magic Quadrant. It’s a quintessential piece of content for application leaders and IT decision-makers evaluating — or soon to be evaluating — information management platforms.
As you use the report to review potential solutions, it’s worth noting that M-Files compared very favourably in this year’s CSP Critical Capabilities Report, ranked with a share of 1st place in five key Product Service Rating categories:
- Content Management
- Content Security
- Delivery Model
- Metadata and Classification
Our solution also had a Product Service Rating ranked in the top five for:
- System Security
Think Platform… Not Application
Barring a few outliers, most solutions are relatively close to one other in how they are ranked, so all of those should be able to suit application needs. Thus, potential end-users should focus on the platforms holistically — considering search, security, metadata classification, workflow capabilities and other functionalities.
If you look for a solution in a single application area, you will end up buying another silo, which might appear to solve problems but could exacerbate them further as information becomes scattered across one more system. It is much better to have a single solution that provides additional value by centralizing content, providing context to information, and capable of establishing workflows around company information.
In addition, the Gartner report makes the following recommendation around artificial intelligence:
“Base your selection, in part, on a vendor’s current and future planned AI features — a key evaluation criterion. AI technologies will deliver increased efficiencies via automation and productivity enhancements, so ensure that AI is a strategic focus for the vendor you choose.”
When we think platform and not the application, you have to consider the power of AI in providing contextualization of company information — a technology layer that M-Files embraced early in acquiring AI and natural language processing provider Apprento in 2017 to bolster AI capabilities. AI capabilities are an important feature set, as it helps to control content chaos with context, identifying and bringing together information from legacy “dark data” silos.
Look for Strong Core Functions and Security
For those evaluating information management strategies, strong core functions — such as search, metadata management, classification and content management — are imperative to keep up with a rapidly growing volume of information generated by growth itself. Furthermore, smart solutions like M-Files are reinforcing their core functionality across disparate silos, connecting together multiple information repositories into one single user interface without a data migration.
Driven by elevated concerns and regulations (think GDPR), content security is arguably the strongest single key capability and an essential facet of any information management system. Evaluators should keep a keen eye on security-centric features like market-leading access control, audit trails, federated authentication, file encryption in transit and at rest, intrusion detection, and data loss prevention.
User Experience is Still Key
The measure of a platform’s real-world utility is user adoption. Ultimately, user adoption is based on both ease-of-use and the creation of added value. In short, if the user experience is simple, intuitive and practical, the platform will become indispensable to employees’ day-to-day workloads. Great user experiences lean heavily on modern UIs and interaction models are driven by metadata-based suggestions. Think about some of the most successful and user-friendly interfaces on the market today — personal use applications like iTunes, Spotify or Netflix. These services suggest relevant content and allow users to browse through objects based on metadata like a genre, author/artist. They serve as great examples that enterprise-grade information management tools can borrow from.
The connection of disparate data silos is also a salient point here. More specifically, the quality of the user experience is amplified when more data sources are connected to the CSP. Thus, user utility and value grow as the span of sources grows.
M-Files has been ahead of the industry in several key areas, leading the way in terms of a folderless approach that leans more on the context of information rather than wherein an information ecosystem it lives, and the industry has responded. M-Files has once again landed on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms in 2018. This is our eighth year on the quadrant and the third consecutive year Gartner has tapped M-Files as a visionary in the Content Services Platforms (CSP) vertical.
For 2018, Gartner has outlined a content services platform as:
“A set of services and microservices, embodied as an integrated product suite and applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization.”
This definition rings true, especially for M-Files. The solution hangs its hat on easy integration with multiple repositories — like network folders, ERP, CRM — to present a unified user interface without the hassle of a massive migration project. M-Files also receives high marks for ease of content management — enabling the world’s workers to capture, access, manage and collaborate on documents from anywhere on any device.
Gartner features in this influential report specific mentions of vendors’ strengths and weaknesses. Highlights of the M-Files solution include:
- Customizable deployment with cloud services and/or on-premise, resulting in a true SaaS that automatically updates
- Repository-agnostic framework accompanied by the release of native artificial intelligence enabled metadata layers for easy contextualization of business information
- Ease of implementation in deploying the solution across a multitude of varying cases with the help of the professional services team and partner network
To learn why Gartner once again recognized M-Files as a visionary and to help understand the changing CSP landscape, download your free copy of the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms, compliments of M-Files.