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:
- 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.
2020 was a year of unprecedented challenge for the whole world — when what we thought of as normal did not exist anymore. Everyone had to adjust to new ways of working and a business community that was suddenly closing its doors after a long period of increasing global movement.
In M-Files, we face the same challenge of suddenly moving to home offices across the globe. For us, it was quite straightforward though, as M-Files is designed to enable remote work from anywhere.
Now, let’s take a look at the upcoming new year 2021. The world will certainly not get back to what used to be normal. It is time for the new normal!
2021 for M-Files means continuing on the path we partly took already in 2020 — but with increased focus. The four major themes for us are:
1 | AI Continues to be an Integral Part of M-Files
AI is already a core element of M-Files, essentially making M-Files what it is. Going forward, AI will go even further in enriching search and navigation, driving employee productivity with intelligence that helps the user focus on the job at hand.
2 | Focus on the User Experience
In today’s world, end-users expect to have tools that are intuitive and easy to use. They use different types of apps in their personal lives and expect at least a somewhat corresponding experience in the products they use for business. M-Files is answering this demand with an increased focus on improving the end-user experience, be it the search experience, the usability of the product in general, or the intuitiveness of the workflows that support the business.
3 | Improved Self-Service Capabilities
True scalability calls for the ability to view and analyze the performance of the system. Therefore, one of the areas we want to focus on in the future is improving self-service capabilities. The next step is to offer customers the ability to manage their own M-Files subscription with M-Files Manage.
4 | Making Content Collaboration a Key Focus
With remote work a key part of the new reality for an increasing number of businesses and knowledge workers, content collaboration is an obvious focus area. You’ll see some new stunning innovations in our product related to remote work enablement later on in 2021.
What to Expect Next?
As we open 2021, there’s some good news just around the corner! The user experience is a theme we want to focus on, and there are two current, significant updates that will certainly have a positive impact on the user experience.
A new, improved Web Client for M-Files became available in the December release and will be installed in customer environments as the year starts. Additionally, the December release introduced the new Smart Search, which will give faster, even more, accurate search results.
If you wish to learn more about any of the new improvements, please contact us for more information.
According to Nitro, workers spend an average of 50% of their time creating and preparing documents. Yet, document issues account for more than 21% of daily productivity loss.
Businesses depend on information — documents, files, data, content… everything. It is the lifeblood of just about every organization. The past few years have seen a reckoning for companies in how they capture, store, structure, and disseminate information within the organization. The explosion of information across the enterprise has made it an IT issue that cannot be ignored.
The reason is simple… unstructured data is generated at an alarming rate and it’s burrowed away in siloed applications — think email, chat logs, network drives, CRM. This combined with the huge rise of remote work in 2020 has put intelligent information management solutions like M-Files in the spotlight. The way these solutions combat the problem is revolutionary, featuring transformative capabilities like AI-enabled tagging and collation of content across otherwise disconnected repositories.
To put it into proper perspective, let’s examine the obstacles to efficient information management and the six trends you can expect in 2021.
Pervasive (but Not New) Challenges in Information Management for 2021
Companies are consistently battling several information management challenges, elucidating the need to combat them with a frontline intelligent information management system. Top of the list of challenges are:
- A flood of unstructured data — all information not contained in tidy databases, the information contained in documents, PowerPoints, email attachments, email messages, chat logs
- Difficulty in organizing and classifying data, especially in a traditional hierarchy of file folders and subfolders
- Content scattered across the entire information landscape in siloed systems and applications, like a wasteland of misfit documents
Hopefully, some of the trends mentioned below will help ameliorate some of these challenges.
Improving Information Findability with Federated Search
Over 60% of information workers needed to access at least four systems, according to CMSWire. Federated search describes a search technology that can scan several sources for information at the same time. By default, federated search capabilities are baked into the M-Files solution. M-Files doesn’t care where your documents are. Searches can be completed across all company information silos to return results, regardless of where the files live. That’s the power of focusing on content over location — decoupling the content from its repository.
AI-Enabled Information Management Functions
Artificial intelligence is ever-present in many technologies we use, and information management is another technology that has a prominent place now for AI. It’s especially useful in a few ways: AI can comb through large amounts of data, for personally identifiable information as an example, and AI can suggest metadata tags to help classify data.
M-Files has spent extensive resources to stay on the bleeding edge of AI in information management. M-Files offers several intelligence services that will help you automate your office work.
- M-Files Smart Classifier: Automatically suggests a Class for an object, such as “Template”, “Agreement”, or “Offer”
- M-Files Information Extractor: Automatically scans through the content of a document to suggest relevant metadata
- M-Files Image Analysis: Automatically examines the image to suggest captions, categories, tags, and facial analysis results as metadata suggestions
The Rise of Anywhere, Anytime Access to Information
The year 2020 will go down in the history books. The whole world was shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic and for businesses, this meant deploying a large remote workforce to ensure business continuity. It put into stark contrast those that were ready with digital transformation and those that were behind the curve.
Knowledge workers needed remote access to company information and files. They needed the same experience from home as they would at the office. By far, the number one most vital part of any successful remote, flexible work strategy has to do with a true information platform at the center. At its core, an information management system is precisely what it sounds like — a solution designed to facilitate not only the storage of critical data but also the organization and retrieval of that same information.
M-Files provides remote access to information from anywhere in the world and from any device. Now, employees can work from anywhere — the hotel, their home, an airport, a client location… anywhere.
Much like remote work and remote access, flexible and diverse tools that enable hassle-free collaboration will be an indispensable part of a company’s tool stack. As traditional working models shift to a collaboration-centric model, intelligent information management tools like M-Files are needed to enable that shift.
But we’ve moved past just enabling collaboration into an era of optimizing it. From sharing documents to tracking tasks to co-authoring, these technologies ease the burden of collaborating, even in a remote work environment.
Connecting Disparate Information Silos
Employees shouldn’t have to toggle between applications, programs, and tools to find the information they need. M-Files and the Intelligent Metadata Layer deliver a simple, unified user experience for modern information management. You can browse data in all connected systems and repositories, whether in the cloud or on-premises with the same user interface — something that other ECM solutions don’t offer.
Friendly and Attractive User-Interface
Now that information management solutions have reached a certain level of maturity, part of the focus has shifted to creating a sleek user experience. Users have become spoiled by Netflix, Amazon, Google, and others and they now expect dynamite user interfaces in business, just as they have in their personal lives.
In 2021, M-Files has put the focus on the UI and the experience — highlighted first by M-Files’ new and improved web interface. It’s a trend that will pervade information management solutions of all types and sizes — lest they be bested by competitors that will put the proper resources into intelligent UI design.
As you gear up to take advantage of these emerging trends, you might be interested in exploring the M-Files intelligent information management solution. M-Files goes beyond traditional ECM — automate manual workflows and allow employees to work more productively, and M-Files is equipped with out-of-the-box, built-in AI to help classify and find information. Ultimately, M-Files helps organizations find and manage business-critical documents and information from any device, no matter where it’s stored — preparing your organization for anything 2021 might throw at you.