An organization’s information exemplifies a critical competitive asset, yet many struggle to effectively manage and harness the ever-increasing amount of it that resides within disconnected business systems.
A wonderfully vivid image of this information proliferation is illustrated by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) who states, “The typical amount of information produced in a year is equivalent to 12 stacks of books stretching from the Earth to the Sun.” Unfortunately, this incredible growth of enterprise information has consequences, one of the most critical is that staff members struggle to locate and consume various types of it strewn across various systems.
As the effort to better manage and harness ever growing volumes of information ensues, the ability to search for and view content in a familiar context will become increasingly paramount. However, this presents a challenge because typically an organization’s applications and information are often siloed. Hence, staff are required to spend unnecessary amounts of time searching in multiple systems to find the information they need, and this time spent sifting through information negatively impacts productivity and causes process bottlenecks. These challenges are amplified when we consider the different needs of different staff across departments or business units. While not easy to overcome—this challenge is not insurmountable.
Integration Overcomes the Obstacle of Data Silos
We’ve discovered that integrating an enterprise information management (EIM) solution with important business systems so that they can communicate and share information enables organizations to more effectively manage and harness their information. We developed M-Files with integration in mind (not as an afterthought) because, in the past, EIM and enterprise content management (ECM) systems that have not been integrated with other core business systems have generally turned out to be less than satisfactory– and we are not the only one who thinks so. The 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management states, “The drive for more contextual relevance for enterprise content makes it necessary to think of ECM as a long term investment in the ability to deliver relevant content to business applications.”
Integration = Business Benefits
We’ve seen the value that has been achieved by organizations around the world and in a wide range of industries by integrating the M-Files EIM solution with existing business systems. In my opinion, the biggest benefit from this level of integration is related to search and access. Simply put—integration gives the organization the ability to easily search for information assets across systems. Equally as important, integration also gives organizations the ability to deliver documents, data and non-document objects related to a search.
In other words, integration between EIM and other business systems delivers the ability to deliver content in context. We have found is that the effectiveness of an information management solution is heavily impacted by its ability to bridge the gap between unstructured content (such as documents and media files) and information within structured data systems (such as a project within an ERP system or a customer account in the CRM application). These enterprise systems drive core business processes that often require access to unstructured content that resides in another repository. For instance, a proposal for a specific customer, or an invoice or contract for specific vendor. M-Files is able to manage “non-document” information objects like customers, employees, and projects that are core to the business in the same way that it manages other unstructured content.