Over the last decade, virtually all industries have been altered and improved by the growth of artificial intelligence. However, one area that has changed radically, but many might not think of, has been the document management ecosystem.
Information-rich tasks have benefited from AI enormously, particularly in terms of knowledge management, business process management, security, and compliance. All these applications allow employees to work smarter, not harder ? freeing up their valuable time so they can focus on big ideas and long-term goals.
Every day, businesses create and process massive amounts of information – contained within it is the insight they need to better understand their market, better understand their customers, and create more effective products and services. By making sure that key personnel has access to the right data at the right time, AI assistance can mean the difference between success and failure.
An award-winning, AI-driven platform like M-Files is designed to give organizations of all sizes the ability to become more efficient without forcing employees to rely on siloed, manual tasks. It can help people spend less time finding the information they need so that they can spend more time acting on it.
Encouraging collaboration and strengthening security
When data is siloed off and essentially trapped in one department, it’s not able to get into the hands of ALL the people who need it. It’s essentially locked off by whoever created it, inaccessible to those others who may benefit from it as well. This is especially true with things like reports, or information pertaining to specific clients. Something that is valuable to the marketing department may be important to sales, too – but the latter may not know it exists.
“If you don’t know what kind of information you have, the only way to mitigate all risk and ensure that it’s kept safe is to lock it all down,” says Jayson deVries, Senior Product Manager at M-Files.
“Of course, that’s not conducive to knowledge sharing within an organization,” he adds. “So, AI can help you understand which information needs special for data protection treatments, and which can be shared with applicable groups.”
Unlike other information management solutions on the market, AI is embedded at the core of M-Files and pervasive throughout the entire platform, including external repositories. M-Files’ native AI capabilities enable improved visibility, security, and processing of information. With a self-learning mechanism incorporated across AI components, M-Files removes the burden from users, as learning happens behind the scenes with no extensive, upfront manual-dataset training.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
M-Files, the intelligent information management company, today announced the acquisition of Hubshare to bolster external content sharing and collaboration and deliver an improved digital client experience. Hubshare offers a secure digital workplace portal that enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file sharing, and project management.
Now part of the M-Files product portfolio, Hubshare provides a secure information exchange platform where companies can be forerunners in driving digitalization and improving the customer experience using branded, customizable client portals. The portals can be quickly and easily tailored to meet individual client needs which drive collaboration and productivity.
“The Hubshare acquisition helps us deliver a unique digital client experience and better serve knowledge worker industries such as Professional Services, where information sharing and external collaboration are critical requirements,” said Antti Nivala, founder, and CEO at M?Files. “Our integrated offering takes M?Files from the back office to the frontline of our customer’s business, helping provide a digital window for our customer’s clients as they drive digitization across the organizations they serve.”
Unlike typical file sync-based document portal solutions where information is copied from an enterprise content repository, M-Files now offers a secure and integrated solution for internal and external collaboration without data duplication. While the M-Files user experience is optimized for streamlining internal document management processes, the new Hubshare hub in M-Files provides key information such as documents, people, processes, discussions, and more to external users, such as clients, via a branded portal that is optimized for an improved external user experience. This helps strengthen customer satisfaction with a better and more compliant collaboration experience.
“Today, with the announcement of our acquisition, we celebrate our common vision and goal of making work smarter and collaboration more efficient for our clients,” said Nicholas Child, CEO, Hubshare. “Our combined offering will undoubtedly benefit organizations across the globe seeking a more secure and integrated solution for internal and external collaboration. We are delighted to be an integral part of the M-Files journey, delivering our digital client experience and collaborative workspace solution alongside the visionary M-Files intelligent information management platform.”
M-Files’ mission is to profoundly improve how companies do business in the digital, work-from-anywhere world. M-Files connects siloed systems, applications, and repositories and provides a full view of all relevant information across an organization. Delivering connected content and intelligent automation, M-Files increases the productivity of knowledge workers, ensures a seamless digital experience, enables business continuity, and reduces business risk.
About M-Files Corporation
M-Files’ AI-powered intelligent information management solution connects all documents and information, across every platform and repository, then analyzes them to place them in context. This makes it possible to serve up the right information to the right people right when they need it—and automate information-driven business processes—while maintaining complete control and compliance. Thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries (including NBC Universal, OMV, SAS Institute, and ThyssenKrupp) use M-Files to manage their business information and processes—and give their employees A Smarter Way to Work. For more information, visit www.m-files.com.
M-Files is a registered trademark of M-Files Corporation. All other registered trademarks belong to their respective owners.
Hubshare enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file-sharing, and project management. The solution provides an all-in-one, flexible, and customizable digital workspace that allows unlimited customer-specific portals, each one unique to each customer’s requirements. Hubshare helps its worldwide users boost their productivity and facilitate external and internal collaboration. Hubshare has offices in France and distributors in the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, and North America, and resellers in numerous other countries.
Anyone who has ever spent an appreciable amount of time working with business information knows full well that the sheer volume of content within their deployment is growing by the day. But at the same time, the variety of content is also on the rise — which can easily lead to governance issues before you know it.
This was always an issue for organizations in the process of scaling, but it has become increasingly difficult in the wake of the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With more employees working from home than ever, information management solutions have become more than just tools to store important files in the cloud. They are literally the foundation of your workforce right now, allowing people to better communicate and collaborate with one another during a time when they’re not going to be able to get back in the same shared space for the foreseeable future.
This, in essence, is why ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance is so important. Every minute that you spend trying to make sense of your infrastructure or trying to get third-party add-ons to work the way you want, is a minute that you’re not actually acting on the insight contained in your data and using it to propel your business forward. Thankfully, most IT leaders seem to understand the gravity of the situation.
The Power of ‘Set It and Forget It’ Governance: An Overview
M-Files intelligent information management solution helps achieve a ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance strategy. With workflow rules, organizations can maintain consistent records management policies. Documents in a governance workflow would be governed by a ruleset whereby any of the following would happen automatically:
Records would be disposed of or retained according to policy
Stakeholders would be notified to review batches of documents designated for a certain disposition
Files can automatically be added to this workflow, as well, through metadata. If, for instance, a file matches certain criteria — say, a type of contract — it would automatically be applied to a governance workflow.
Thanks to a lot of these features, information in all repositories across the organization are standardized with common ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance standards. Really, what this means is that there is now no longer a need to transfer important information like records or compliance documents to a totally separate repository. This approach to governance only ever worked with records that you didn’t need to use that often and created quite a significant challenge in terms of management for everything else. Active records obviously need to be available with their critical context intact — meaning in a way that allows you to retrieve all relevant documents and see all crucial tasks also quickly. Now, these types of records can be actively managed within the M-Files platform — which is really the most important advantage of all.
In the end, ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance is all about breaking down yet another data silo so that information can move freely across your organization for the first time. Rather than forcing your employees to use a number of different tools just to get work done — thus increasing the time it takes them to complete those important tasks to begin with — they should have access to absolutely everything they need, all under one roof.
But you also shouldn’t have to work very hard to get to this point — which is really what ‘Set It and Forget It’ governance is all about. It’s about making it easier to get the highest return from your IT spending and from your technological investment, not harder. You’ll still need to make sure that the business strategies that are driving your technology investments are carefully thought out, of course. You should never invest in a solution because you think you need to — it should be the right move to make given whatever you’re trying to accomplish at the moment.
Thankfully, “simple” has emerged as a recurring theme when it comes to businesses who are embracing cloud platforms and process standardization — and it absolutely could not have come at a better moment.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenge for us all — but few know this better than the dedicated HR employees who now have to figure out how to effectively do their jobs while working remotely.
Thankfully, M-Files has proven itself to be more than invaluable to that end, offering a wide array of different benefits to human resources officials both during and after the pandemic has finally left us behind.
Offering Superior Remote Access
Obviously, everyone needs “anytime, anywhere” access to key information while working from home and M-Files make this easier than ever before. Everything is all in one place, making sure that the HR employees who need a document always have it, no matter what. Not only is everything inherently searchable based on what is INSIDE the document (not just what it’s called), but this is also a way to keep information safe and secure as well.
Automation, Automation, Automation
Everyone knows that collecting “wet signatures” when updating HR policies and procedures is time-consuming on the best of days… to say nothing of how problematic this has become during the new era when everyone is working remotely.
Thankfully, M-Files can make this process easier by allowing you to send out a copy of new policies to all staff members, have them acknowledge it via a web browser, then instantly file it away in the appropriate folder — all via automated workflows that don’t require HR employees to send out so much as a single email.
Support for a New Era of Leave Management
Thanks to the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on us all, many companies are (understandably) seeing an increase in leave requests. With M-Files, it’s now possible to create customized workflows that can be started by a manage to make sure that everyone who needs to be informed of such a request — like those in payroll, those dealing with benefits, and others) are an organic part of the process in a way that also makes it easy to track actions as they’re being taken.
Even though people aren’t physically in the same place at the same time any longer, the need for collaboration is still paramount. Still, sending documents via email can not only create a confusing process that is prone to errors, but it can also cause even the most straightforward tasks to take up far too much time as well.
With M-Files, on the other hand, employees can now effortlessly share information with one another from the devices they’re already comfortable using. Custom workflows can even be created to make sure that documents are always correctly routed from one person to the next as needed, thus empowering collaboration at a time when it is desperately needed.
Employee Lifecycle Paperwork
In the COVID-19 era, remote employee onboarding is a pressing need for many organizations. Thankfully, M-Files enables this by allowing employees to complete all of their onboarding forms at home through a simple and easy-to-use web-based interface.
Once finished, those forms can then automatically be routed to the right HR professionals who can then file them away as needed. This same process can be leveraged whenever an employee exits the business, too — automating notices for everyone involved in this level of exit paperwork.
Better Employee Management Documentation
Even though more people are working from home than ever, there are still certain needs that must be met. HR officials still need to manage and document employee performance, for example, along with all relevant certifications, licenses, and training materials.
Thankfully, M-Files enables this by making sure that all insight ends up exactly where it needs to be: in that employee’s file. This breaks down yet another potential data silo for information to get lost in, fueling better and more informed decisions moving forward.
It’s All About That Return on Investment
Finally, perhaps the most important way in which M-Files supports your human resources efforts in the new era of working remotely comes down to how it can help you recoup as much money as possible from your initial investment.
Keep in mind that moving from the paper-based world into the digital realm can not only bring with it significant cost savings in terms of square footage for your business but also with regards to time saved as well.
You’ll spend so much less time and money because you’re no longer wading through reams of paper — allowing you to funnel more of those funds back into the business in areas where they can do the most good. Plus, you’ll have more time in a day to focus on those matters that truly need you, which may very well be the most important benefit of all.