How to Use Information Management to Secure a Competitive Advantage

That old saying “knowledge is power” is one that all of us are very familiar with, whether it’s from work, school, or life. Gaining that insight or competitive edge by accessing and consuming information can help everyone make better-informed opinions and decisions and improve potential outcomes. But as more and more data is saved and consumed across organizations, it also becomes harder to find the right information when you need it.

When it comes to managing your information within an organization, that “insider’s gold” needs to be easily leveraged by your employees so that the latest and greatest insights can be a key part of what makes your company successful. But how can a company ensure that all of this is managed in a centralized location? The answer is information management.

Let’s look at the three keys to securing a competitive advantage with your company’s information.

1. Deploy federated search capabilities

What’s the use of having “insider’s gold” in your information if you can’t find it when you need it? This is where federated search comes in. Federated search allows knowledge workers to search multiple collections of text at the same time, making it easier for employees to find the data they need to excel at their jobs and improve business performance.
So how does it work? Most organizations have information stored on several different repositories – including network shares, hard disk drives, and cloud-based storage systems – that can soon become a complex, disparate web. Rather than wasting time searching for a particular document in each of these repositories, federated search allows knowledge workers to go through every repository at once. This increases the speed employees can retrieve information and act on the insight contained within it, which not only helps employees work smarter, but also improves client relationships by having access to the information they require at your fingertips.

2. Maximize the value of data

To become a successful digital organization in today’s increasingly turbulent business landscape, companies need a strategy to not only easily discover the information housed within the organization, but also maximize the value of critical data. We have already established that knowledge is power, but failure to value and manage data can leave knowledge work businesses open to losses because of improper security, problems with sharing and collaborating, and poor data quality.

By instituting an information management strategy, companies can often improve inefficiencies within their business and reveal opportunities to improve revenues. This can include enforcing better integration with marketing and sales systems to improve customer service or learning the market value of your data and offering new services based on that information, which all create additional revenue streams. However, the biggest gain from maximizing the value of your data can often be felt within your organization. Management can learn to recognize trends and pinpoint problems by using data as business intelligence, enhancing organizational efficiency, and establishing new strategies to help the business exceed its goals.

3. Keep your data secure and compliant

The best information management strategies do more than simply relieve companies of the burden of finding information. They enable employees to gain insight from that information and secure it to reduce business risk and ensure the company remains compliant with data privacy regulations. Most businesses consider compliance a burden, but it should be looked at as an opportunity to win and retain customers. Prioritizing data privacy protection can be a major competitive differentiator.

Businesses, especially in heavily regulated industries like finance or health care, need to set and enforce governance rules and company policies to ensure only authorized people can view and share sensitive information. The added benefit? Governance rules can make it easier to keep audit trails that can be accessed at any time. Therefore, when a customer or regulator asks for evidence about a potential data privacy issue, the organization can easily pull the information requested in real-time to avoid hefty fines.

Focusing on compliance not only increases customer loyalty by ensuring data rights are being respected, but it can also help with data cleansing, which can improve efficiency. Creating a data map of the organization can help streamline operations by eliminating “ROT” – redundant, obsolete, and trivial data that can eat up storage and bog down processes – and ensure customer information is kept up to date.

By deploying an effective information management strategy, organizations can use their information to make more informed business decisions, improve customer loyalty, and create new revenue streams. Information is the golden ticket to help increase competitive advantage and improve the bottom line – you just need to know how to use it and protect it.

source: https://www.m-files.com/how-to-use-information-management-to-secure-a-competitive-advantage/

Grow Your Business by Going Green

What if you could do something good for the planet and make your workday easier?  It sounds crazy in our digital era, but the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper annually. In the last 20 years, the usage of paper products in the US reached 208 million tons (up from 92 million) ? a growth of 126%.

It’d be one thing if all that paper served an important purpose, but according to one recent study, it’s estimated that about 45% of all paper documents that are printed in offices end up in the garbage by the end of the day. The same study estimates that companies spend more than $120 billion per year — every year — on printed forms. Luckily, there’s a more ecological and economical choice.

By digitizing your paper-centric documentation processes, and automating them, you can unlock powerful efficiency and productivity. M-Files partners with services that help analyze and scan your company’s physical documents, so you can securely digitize your data. Once it’s entered in M-Files, everyone on your team can instantly access the most up-to-date version of a document and share it in milliseconds. No printers, fax machines, or copiers are needed.

Green looks good on you

Deploying a document management solution as part of your business’ green policy won’t just eliminate large amounts of wasted paper, it can also spruce up your image. It shows customers and partners that your company is striving to be more environmentally conscious while potentially creating a more satisfying workplace for employees.

According to a study by Neilsen, corporate sustainability is important to a majority of people ? 85% of millennials and 79% of Gen X say it is “extremely or very important that companies implement programs to improve the environment.”

Many consumers around the world are adjusting their shopping habits to align with their values. For earth-conscious consumers, your business’ ecological actions truly matter.

Going paperless saves time

Organizations with an overarching system in place to handle all their information electronically not only reduce their impact on the environment but also operate at a vastly superior level of efficiency compared to those that still rely on paper files and folders. Given the large expense and inconvenience of paper documents, maintaining them in an electronic document management system leads to a substantial increase in efficiency and a decrease in operational costs.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/grow-your-business-by-going-green

Sustainability with Intelligent Information Management

Fighting climate change has undoubtedly become, and rightly so, one of the major drivers of people’s behavior in recent years. At the same time, the importance of sustainability to business has grown too. Whilst companies have to a large extent realized their responsibility on sustainability, the ability to find ways to become ever more environmentally healthy remains a challenge.

Many companies have or are initiating their environmental policies, aligned with an increasing amount of similar requirements from their trading partners, which places demands upon their own internal processes. Thus, sustainability has become a clear factor on B2B sales, not only B2C, As people are placing more and more importance on these topics in their personal lives, green values have become an important factor.  Employee demands for sustainability change are becoming selection criteria when applying for a new job. This places far more emphasis on a prospective employer to show a progressive approach to these demands if they are to persuade new talent to join. 

Challenges for sustainability in Information Management

The role of Information Management is often not the most obvious when it comes to a sustainable way of working. The most notable effect of modern IT systems is clearly their ability to support collaboration over vast distances, i.e., as an enabler of remote work and avoiding unnecessary travel to business meetings. The COVID-19 epidemic has quite naturally sped up the transformation towards remote work, so communications over remote meetings with Teams, Zoom, etc., have pretty much become the norm.

Even though modern remote meeting systems enable communications over remote connections, they are not very good for non-formal communications that we tend to do while in the office or meeting clients or partners on site. The lack of such non-formal communication places even more importance in information management processes, including tools for employees to easily carry out their responsibilities.

Traditionally, managing the company’s business critical documents has been especially reliant on the non-formal communications taking place in the workplace and physical meetings. Finding the correct documents or previous work has been done by asking around in the office. A lot of documentation is simply replicated, with approval processes largely completed by signing paper copies in the office. Thus, better means for document & content management are certainly one challenge that companies need to address, allowing operations with reduced overheads.

Besides providing means for remote work, there are other factors in Information Management systems that affect the total CO2 footprint of a company. As these systems consume substantial amounts of energy, optimizing their usage of computing resources and digital storage would result in a more sustainable workplace. Unfortunately, such issues were largely overlooked when companies initially set up their information management systems and, therefore, offer considerable room for sustainability enhancement.

Sustainability challenges have gained more attention lately. For example, Capgemini has recently produced a report and an article about “Sustainable IT” that outlines very similar conclusions as mentioned here: Sustainable IT Leads to Significant Benefits But Is Still Not a Focus for Most Organizations.

How to make content management an asset for sustainability

State-of-the-art information management usually relies upon Enterprise Content Management (ECM), i.e., managing a company’s documents and the information related to them. The question is: How can a company become more sustainable by improving the way they are using and managing their documentation?

Reflecting the challenges outlined above, the benefits of an ECM system for a company from the sustainability viewpoint can be summarized by the following three points:

  1. A common system for accessing documents and supporting digitized processes.  This approach enables effective collaboration on the documents, typically involving review & approval processes, even when working remotely. Thus, an ECM system can act as an important enabler for remote work, avoiding travel to meet clients and partners whilst enhancing customer service.
  2. Avoiding document copies.  Document version management in ECM systems and the ability to use document links instead of email attachments, reduce storage requirements, thus saving energy required for maintaining multiple document repositories. In practice, this means that the companies can reduce the amount of network drives & other repositories by utilizing modern ECM systems.
  3. Cloud environments enable computing resources to be securely shared. A cloud-based solution is a collaborative resource distributed among many users / clients, thus using processing power much more efficiently than systems relying on the processors in each users’ PCs or company servers. In this manner, using cloud-based ECM solutions can drastically reduce the overall computing power needed for document management.

Improving a company’s sustainability can be seen as a ripple effect: changes that by themselves seem small but combined together make a real difference. Applying modern ECM technology to enable intelligent information management is an important part of striving towards more environmentally healthy way of working.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/sustainability-with-intelligent-information-management

Productive Processes and Profit Begins at Home!

In this age of 24/7 Client focus, it is easy for Practice Management to lose sight of the fundamentally important job of looking for internal systematic operating process bottlenecks.

In many cases hidden away in the business, there are functions that remain supported primarily by a mixture of seemingly permanent ‘temporary Shadow Systems” such as spreadsheets and shared drives, all supported by manually driven processes.

Quite often, due to budget prioritization, resource focus or simply not allocating “your own business review time”, opportunities to introduce robust, low-risk digital solutions to help improve productivity and bottom-line profitability are missed.

Typical questions that need to be asked include:

  • Can we ensure our compliance and governance processes are adhered to?
  • Are our data sources secure and controlled?
  • Are we maximising the value of our data?
  • Do our processes work seamlessly across the Practice and externally to our Clients?
  • Can we guarantee that GDPR request can be answered?
  • Am I sure that my KPI’s are based upon fact?
  • How can we work smarter?

Many organizations do not have an accurate accounting of their own IT estate. How many and what types of servers? How many and what types of applications? How well utilized is the IT estate? Are there redundancies in application licenses and maintenance? How much of the estate is at the end of service life (EOSL)? Can the estate be consolidated based on newer infrastructure?

Regular analysis of the costs and performance of your legacy applications identifies the gaps, performance degradation, outages, and service interruptions that inevitably arise.  The resulting analytics highlight areas that need to be modernized to improve the performance, availability, and support of your systems.

Importantly, the benefits of process optimization have a wider reach than just the business processes. The operational knowledge and experience needed to manage and oversee people-dependent processes tend to be concentrated in the heads of a few key individuals. This results in greater risk to the business. 

Ironically, fewer people with complete knowledge of key processes, also complicate succession planning, making transitions prone to disruptions, relationships with partners strained, and general discontent within the organization.

Ultimately, a more structured, stress-free working environment that enables your teams to function effectively, enhances well-being, and can contribute to staff retention, will enhance productivity, increase customer satisfaction and contribute to greater profitability.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/productive-processes-and-profit-begins-at-home

Our Take: Gartner Peer Insights and Our Amazing Customers

At M-Files, our goal is to provide knowledge workers with the connected content and intelligent automation they need to empower a smarter way to work. However, we wouldn’t be who we are today without our amazing customers. Our customers are our guiding “why” — and as of today*, we are proud to share that because of them, we have achieved a 4.4 out of 5-star rating in the Content Services category on  Gartner Peer Insights[1], which documents customer experience through verified ratings and peer reviews from enterprise IT professionals.

The satisfaction of our customers has, and always will be, our number one priority. We’re humbled that as of August 1, 2021, 88% of Gartner Peer Insights respondents would recommend M-Files as a Content Services Platform, based on 78 reviews over the past twelve months. We believe achieving such a reputable Gartner Peer Insights rating showcases our on-going commitment to providing customers with new, innovative ways to manage, secure and collaborate around content.

The reviews speak for themselves, and we couldn’t be more humbled our customers think so highly of us:

  • “It is a mastermind software to have when it comes to managing data. I have used M-Files for a long time and I am completely satisfied with the breadth of functionalities it offers.” – Consultant, Services [read full review
  • “One of the best document management system available in market. Easy to store and manage large files in this application. Collaboration made easy with this application.” – Senior Analyst, Services [read full review]
  • “M-Files is one of the best content management software which lets users to create, manage and store the data. The product is very easy to use and implement.” – Analyst, Services [read full review
  • “M-Files is a document management software where users can firstly and quickly manage and organize electronic documents. The user interface is very good and the user can perform the multi-task at one time directly from the central dashboard.” – Software Engineer, Services [read full review]

We strive to provide a modern approach to information management that increases the productivity of knowledge workers, ensures a seamless digital experience, strengthens collaboration, enables business continuity, and reduces business risk. Over this past year, it has been our greatest pleasure helping organizations navigate, control, and manage overwhelming amounts of data brought on by digital transformation and the pandemic. We are humbled our customers see the value in our metadata-driven approach and look forward to helping our customers continue to see greater productivity and ROIs across their organizations.

*August 1, 2021, based on 78 reviews

[1]  Gartner Peer Insights reviews constitute the subjective opinions of individual end users based on their own experiences and do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/our-take-gartner-peer-insights-and-our-amazing-customers

The 3 Main Types of Content Services: Collaborative, Archival and Transactional

Over the past few years, content services have fallen into one of two different categories: transactional or collaborative. Transactional content, as the name suggests, directly relates to the case management content that businesses are working with on a daily basis. Collaborative content, on the other hand, has to do with all of those project-related documents that people are tracking to actively do their jobs.

In the past, both of these would have been handled by way of an enterprise content management system, otherwise known as an ECM for short. Unfortunately, this had led people to attempt to divide up their workflows based on which technologies help to solve their content problems. In reality, things would be much more productive if efforts were divided up based on the content type they were working with.

To that end, there are three main content types that any modern enterprise needs to be aware of: collaborative content, archival content and transactional content.

The Building Blocks of Collaborative Content

As stated, the first main type of content that most enterprises work with has to do with collaborative content. That is, the type of content that exists in the types of systems that people use to more efficiently work with one another on projects. Examples of these systems include but are not limited to ones like Slack, Teams and even “old school” email collaboration.

The purpose of these systems is clear: they’re supposed to optimize the way people work together.

The issue is that especially in the fast-paced modern era we’re currently living through, collaborative content is the type that is most likely to get “lost” over time. People are collaborating on so many different documents across so many systems that organizations don’t really have a sense of what they have – let alone where it happens to be. 

Their collaborative content is growing faster than they realize and, coupled with a lack of efficient storage and effective categorization, means that most businesses are soon left with a large stockpile of content and no real way to make sense of it all.

Archival (Read: Old) Content

This segues directly into the next most common type of content: archival content. This refers to those documents or other materials that may not have a pressing short-term need, but that businesses still don’t want to just get rid of.

Usually, archival content is either that which has been retired from an ECM solution or that which has been gleaned from file shares, collaborative solutions and other areas where people just get overloaded with content.

To successfully manage an archival system, people need to be able to identify and categorize content, all so that they can determine when it is best to permanently dispose of it. Automatic metadata classification tools are essential to that end, as they not only help sort high quality data from its low quality counterparts, but they can also help remove duplicate content and solve other challenges.

The Era of Transactional Content

Finally, we arrive at the idea of transactional content: that is, content services that are built to support all of these different content systems. Solutions like M-Files bring the best of CRM, ERP and even custom case management systems together, all in a way that breaks down data silos and makes sure that businesses have complete visibility over their enterprise at all times.

The main benefit here is that employees can work within just a single system and have access to all of the critical data they need, regardless of where that data is housed. Not only do you still maintain the benefit of allowing people to better work together, but they can do so remotely from literally any device on Earth with an active Internet connection. Here, data is stored externally from the moment of its creation – meaning that anytime, anywhere access to key insights and other important documents is all but a forgone conclusion.

In the end, it’s important to understand your options when picking the right content services and solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of your business. When executed properly, most employees shouldn’t be interacting with content services directly. They shouldn’t have to use seven different systems just to get work done on a single file.

They should have access to a single point that gives them everything they need to interact with their content and conduct business, all while staying in sync with the rest of the enterprise as well. That’s why solutions like M-Files are so essential: they go a long way towards guaranteeing precisely that.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/the-three-main-types-of-content-services-collaborative-archival-and-transactional