The First Step on the 5,000-Mile Journey to Actionable Data Analytics: Unscrambling those Information Silos

What competent enterprise doesn’t love the opportunity that data analytics offers? In the old days, we’d have had to hire a savant like John Nash from the film A Beautiful Mind to find patterns in the data. Now, we live in a digital world where technology has given us the ability to uncover hidden patterns, correlations and other meaningful insights faster than John Nash ever could have imagined.

The benefits are self-evident and obvious. International Institute for Analytics Director of Research Tom Davenport interviewed over fifty businesses to identify how exactly they used big data. The three most valuable ways they got value from their data?

  1. Cost reduction
  2. Faster, better decision making
  3. New products and services

The first (and arguably the most important) step on a company’s journey to realizing value from their information is accessing that information. Confounding the issue is that most companies have a myriad of data silos that they need to bridge together to get their data and interpret it. In his article Breaking Down Data Silos, Edd Wilder-James of the Harvard Business Review says:

“There is a cost to using data. Behind the glamour of powerful analytical insights is a backlog of tedious data preparation. Since the popular emergence of data science as a field, its practitioners have asserted that 80% of the work involved is acquiring and preparing data. Despite efforts among software vendors to create self-service tools for data preparation, this proportion of work is likely to stay the same for the foreseeable future, for a couple of reasons.”

The question then becomes: How can businesses make information in different silos more accessible to employees that need it to perform critical analytics?

Wilder-James goes on to outline five key reasons why isolated islands of data make it prohibitively costly to extract data for multi-pronged use cases, and they are definitely worth sharing:


Basically, software applications are written for a particular group with the end function in mind and data sharing becomes an afterthought. The example he uses is one where current sales figures are stored in a different system than historical sales figures, presenting an inherent obstacle to improving sales through personal product recommendation.


Different groups within a company can be wary of other groups wanting to view or use their data. This sense of a certain group being the “exclusive owners” of that data can work against the broader best interest of the company.


Companies with some history to them have gone through changes — leadership, philosophy, acquisitions — and have inadvertently conflated their data stack with multiple incompatible systems, making it a costly proposition to reconcile them.

Vendor Lock-In

The world of SaaS is one where vendors want to keep you in their fold and Wilder-James posits the following:

“Vendors have also worked hard to create entire job functions and career paths centered around their software. Any hint of move from that world could threaten the livelihood of a trained and certified software professional.”

Using Data Costs Money

To create an infrastructure that lends itself to efficient data analytics, a company must lessen the impact of data silos. Yet, few companies are equipped to build a comprehensive infrastructure from scratch and must approach it incrementally.

These are tremendously salient points that Wilder-James riffs on as the reasons that businesses get stuck in the status quo of siloed data. It’s a concept that hits home here at M-Files. While our solution is not singularly built to solve data analytics problems, the notion of bridging information from multiple silos together into one user interface is a tenet we hold near and dear.

A survey we conducted last year with UK-based IT decision-makers proved especially revealing:

  • 24% of respondents stated that information being stored and managed across multiple, fragmented repositories was proving problematic
  • 20% find searching for information challenging and time-consuming (which is hardly surprising given that they are likely to be searching across multiple systems and repositories)
  • 16% have duplicate content and information sitting across multiple repositories – making it difficult to ensure they are only ever accessing and working on the correct and latest version

So, we’ve tackled that problem head-on, developing our platform to present information from multiple business repositories — like ERP“>ERP, CRM, network folders, SharePoint and many more — without the headache of a massive data migration project. The idea is to present contextualized information based on what it is and not where it lives.


Root Cause Analysis (RCA) delivers control over asset performance

With the support of MaxGrip, one of the world’s leading dairy companies has succeeded in implementing a simple and highly effective failure reduction methodology. Root Cause Analysis (RCA) studies have pointed the way to full control over asset performance.

This company employs more than 22,000 people and sells products in over 100 countries. Great opportunities are presented by the worldwide reputation of Dutch dairy, the growing demand for sustainable food, and the recent withdrawal of EU milk quota. With its future strategy as the main guideline for adding value, the company is preparing for global growth


MaxGrip is this company’s partner for maintenance improvement. We helped to improve the maintenance maturity of dozens of plants. Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a tried and tested method to unveil the underlying causes of equipment failure. The company adheres to the highest safety and quality standards, and every product has to pass the mark with flying colours. Even the smallest spare part can have big consequences in terms of reliability and availability. RCA is the obvious starting point in the search for technical and non-technical root causes that could affect safety, quality, costs and production performance.

Determining Root Causes

“Asset Performance Management is basically about balancing three main factors”, says MaxGrip consultant Siebrand Weening. “These are the performance of the installations, cost control, and risk management. Maintenance plays a crucial role in this balancing act. Preventive maintenance is based on risk analyses and identifying the right adaptations. Corrective maintenance raises questions about the real causes, especially when failures tend to recur. We want to enable continuous improvement, and in 2006 we defined RCA as a key asset management competence area for the company. Our RCA solution typically yields more than a tenfold ROI.”


At the time, maintenance at this company was mostly a local affair. Operators and technicians found failure causes and improvements by trial and error. Data were recorded on paper. With the first RCA study, completed in a few days, MaxGrip helped realize very sizeable cost savings. Moreover, the newly acquired data and risk mitigation measures were processed with Optimizer+ and proven to be directly applicable across multiple plants. The massive potential of integrated solutions for failure analysis was made clearly visible by Optimizer+. For example, 80 per cent could be attributed to the human factor, rather than purely technical matters.

Standardized procedure

The company started (re)training its operators and technicians, laying the foundations for a culture change. They introduced maintenance teams with people from all disciplines and standardized the RCA procedure. In their Global Solution Set, the new standard methodology was secured with SAP and Optimizer+ for all locations. Siebrand Weening: ‘RCA studies are all about commitment to control. The first condition for effective RCA and continuous improvement is accurate information, and we don’t stop until it works and everybody is seeing real results.”


Over 80 percent of workers need access to company documents on mobile devices

Eighty-one percent of today’s employees worldwide need access to corporate documents and information on their mobile device, yet 43 percent of the workforce don’t have the required access, according to research undertaken by M-Files Corporation.

M-Files surveyed 1,500 office workers across multiple geographic regions. It reports as many as fifty-four percent of global workers say they are unable to use their mobile device to easily share or collaborate on documents.

“The digital workplace demands anytime, anywhere access to documents from any device, yet new research confirms the document management needs of today’s growing mobile workforce are unmet,” said Greg Milliken, senior vice president of marketing at M-Files.

“Without efficient, remote access to information, employees may resort to Shadow IT – accessing technology outside of and without the knowledge of a company’s IT department – which increases security risks such as data breaches.”

Of respondents who need the ability to share, collaborate or edit documents via mobile device, only half say they are able to do so. Even fewer respondents are able to approve documents (37 percent) or sign documents (26 percent) remotely. And of those users not able to sign documents on the move, 39 percent report that this would be their top wish.

“While users are already demanding more advanced features such as editing, approving or signing documents with a mobile device, many organisations still struggle just to provide basic off-site access,” said Milliken.

“Rather than tacking on a file sharing service, like Dropbox or Box, organisations should consider reevaluating the way they manage and process information.”

Despite their reliance on mobile access, respondents name on average four different systems and repositories where they store business documents and information, including: email (69 percent), shared drives/network folders (55 percent), local disks (54 percent), paper (47 percent), cloud-hosted storage, such as Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive (44 percent), external hard drives (40 percent), file-sharing services (34 percent), Microsoft SharePoint (31 percent), and DMS/ECM systems (24 percent). Many of these platforms don’t provide mobile access, while others require additional specialised applications.


5 Burning Technologies You Need to Become a Bank of the Future

Digital banking is no more about digitizing banking channels or products. It’s about digitizing the core utility of a bank. Since the advent of banking, the core utility of banks has simply been the trust customers place in them to safeguard their financial resources. With the passage of time, banks have used technologies to deliver this utility to their customers through different mediums.

However, banks have the tendency to pave the cow path and digitize long-standing, obsolete operational models. What a bank of the future needs, instead, is to rethink its role in its customers’ lives and to offer ease of access to its utility. Let’s see how banks can do this and the technologies that play a key role in it-


Voice is the next big technology poised to reinvent the financial service industry. Capital One is now using Amazon’s Alexa to help customers pay their credit card bills. But, this is yet another example of iterative thinking where Capital One used an already existing product (credit card) and put it on a voice channel.

The golden opportunity for banks lies in rethinking their operating model and using voice as a unique identifier. A customer’s voice can simply be attached to a value store forgoing the plastic credit card or a 16 digit number to make the payment. Similarly, it can be used to access other lines of credit, check account statements, get financial advice or engage in just about any other financial activity.

Robotic Financial Advisors

Traditionally, financial advisors have been human beings that manage assets and offer advice. However, banks should integrate with the lives of customers to the extent that consumers should readily ask Siri or Alexa if they can afford to go out for dinner. In case of retirement plans, they should be able to ask how much to save each week for retirement. Or how much should someone save each week to pay off a student loan or a HELOC.

These are questions a smart bank account should be able to answer. And, Robo Advisors are the answer to this question and they are already doing so. In fact Robo advisors beat humans by 11-12 % in 2017 in terms of return on the portfolio.

Blockchain and AI based Regulators

Blockchain-based systems combined with Artificial Intelligence can ensure that regulatory compliance does not require human intervention at all. That is, regulators can become primarily AI based. Today in AML, a transaction is tracked and data gathered, passed off to the central bank to combine the reports and check for criminal activity. However, with AI-based regulators, flows of money can automatically be tracked to monitor and determine suspicious activities and take the requisite actions.

Similarly, AI can be leveraged to combat fraud. KYC does not have to be a bank’s job. A customer can be identified based on a unique set of data –their occupation, facial identifiers, and defining biometrics. Banks may be trusted parties that seed identity algorithms into the public, private or commercial identity databases. And, this can play a key role in combating identity theft.

The Right Cloud

Cloud-based platforms are the foundations to a scalable banking architecture. Your bank must be cloud-based to take advantage of frameworks like identity, cryptography, and security. Further, cloud-based banking simplifies regulatory compliance as regulators can increasingly monitor a bank’s compliance performance through RegTech strategies that analyze the easily gathered data.

Be it a commercial, private or public cloud database, cloud computing holds the keys to the future. Without this key capacity, your bank stands no chance against Fintech competition as more and more upcoming Fintechs are cloud-based, not less.


Mobile is one of the most preferred banking channels today, and the bank account is increasingly being seen as an artefact that exists on a mobile phone. It is estimated that from 2010 to 2030 nearly 2.5 billion people will enter the financial services ecosystem and 95% of them would never have visited a bank branch.

Bank of America has launched Erica, a mobile phone-based banking assistant. BoA plans to extend Erica’s capabilities to offer financial guidance by analyzing consumer behavior and using predictive analysis to assess financial habits and offer guidance. And, it is no wonder that the bank has increased its mobile user base by 5% in just six months. 

The Way Forward

Fintechs, P2P lenders and other alternative financial services players are coming up with increasingly innovative business models. The only way traditional banks can survive in the coming future is by being more innovative with their business models. Simply appending futuristic technologies isn’t going to suffice. Banks need to go back to the drawing board and build from the bottom up.


Improper Document Management Inhibits Employee Productivity: 8 in 10 Workers Forced to Recreate Existing Documents

New global research from M-Files identifies top document management challenges impeding job efficiency

Poor information management processes are making jobs harder for staff and reducing their productivity and effectiveness in the workplace, according to new research today released from M-Files Corporation, the intelligent information management company.

The M-Files 2019 Global Intelligent Information Management Benchmark Report surveyed 1,500 office workers across multiple global regions to establish an organizational benchmark on how business information is organized and accessed. Research included the identification of top document management challenges that thwart workplace efficiency, costing organizations time and money.

Findings revealed that poor information handling steals job output: 82 percent of respondents stated navigating different systems and locations to find the correct version of a file they are looking for negatively affects their productivity. In addition, 91 percent of respondents reported that their job would be easier if they could quickly and easily access the most current version of a document, without having to worry about the system or repository in which it resides. Poll participants identified the following additional impediments to staff productivity and effectiveness:

  • 42 percent cited challenges with improper or incorrect labelling of documents
  • 41 percent reported that information was frequently stored in the incorrect folder or system — with 29 percent asserting information was misplaced or lost
  • 26 percent cited challenges determining which system or repository to search, while 26 percent were unsure whether they found the current version of a document

These findings indicate that many businesses manually store information utilizing outdated hierarchical folder structures across a variety of disparate and often unintegrated systems. Modern intelligent information management systems allow users to search for information using context established by the type of document, such as a contract or proposal, and its relationships to customers, projects, cases or literally any other organizational element important to the business. This removes much of the complexity for staff, enabling them to intelligently organize and easily retrieve the most relevant and current information without having to worry about where it’s actually stored.

“These findings clearly show the need for change in information management practices across all organizations – both large and small – wherever they are in their transition to a digital workplace,” said Greg Milliken, senior vice president of marketing at M-Files. “With the exponential proliferation of information in today’s business environment, many companies are failing to give their employees quick and easy access to the information they need, severely reducing productivity. To combat this, enterprises will need to adopt intelligent information management solutions that dramatically change the way they manage and process information, enabling workers to focus on adding more value to the organization.”

Detailed findings from the study can be found in the new M-Files 2019 Global Intelligent Information Management Benchmark Report.