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Making ECM Cool by Tearing Down the Fence Posts with Metadata (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on October 21, 2015 under Advice by

If you asked an IT person if Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technology was cool, I’ll bet he or she would say no and possibly roll their eyes. ECM is a typical mature, necessary, business technology whose functionality has increased over the years, but it’s never been a cool technology. In the late ‘80’s it was known as “document management” and based around a file folder structure—which, while useful, was not cool. Then the definition broadened to include multi-departmental content management, records management and business process management—still based on a folder structure—and not cool. Today, many in the tech biz define ECM as “managing and securing all organizational information.”—important, yes—cool? Not so much.

What if, we simply threw out a fundamental premise of all these definitions? The premise being, that the way ECM software operates is based on ‘where’ the document is stored (the folder structure). So—that’s what we did—we, as in M-Files, threw it out.

How cool is that?

Yes, I said it. I’ll even go one further.

M-Files makes ECM cool, and here’s why.

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Because by changing how ECM is approached, we are changing the way the world manages information. We were pioneers in leveraging metadata to drive all aspects of information management – not just documents. Non-document objects, or as we also call them, “core business objects,” such as customers, accounts, contacts, projects, cases, claims and literally any other “thing” that a company needs to organize, process and/or track can be managed in M-Files. Non-document “core business” objects in M-Files are supported by all the same features as documents, such as version history, permissions, check-in/check-out, workflow, collaboration, audit trails, etc.

By using M-Files metadata-based approach, the user isn’t tethered to the document’s location. I think the world of ECM as having been confined by fence posts—and those are all based on where the information is saved. What we’ve done at M-Files is tear down those fence posts. We’re asking the question, “what if ‘where’ it is didn’t matter?” And we’re proposing the answer, “what matters is ‘what’ the content is.” Think about it—when you are looking for a document, the way your brain’s taxonomy works is based on ‘what.’ For example, you need ABC Company’s invoice—that ‘knowing’ is based on what the document is FIRST—then it shouldn’t matter ‘where’ it is? M-Files has flipped the script—and that’s cool.

I was recently discussing one of our clients Technopolis, with a colleague. They’ve doubled in size over the past five years.  And while this is a really good thing—it can cause information management challenges. With their geographically dispersed staff and international operations, they needed to make their documentation available to staff and partners from anywhere and at any time while they simultaneously ensure that everyone is working from the latest version of their documents and other information. Well, M-Files solved their problem, making information an asset, as it should be, versus a chaotic challenge that inhibits productivity. In fact, they will tell you that, “Instead of searching for different documents we can concentrate on our core projects.” Here’s real-life evidence that the ‘where’ shouldn’t matter. What I am getting at, is while the premise on which we base our information management approach is cool—solving a client’s problem is even cooler.

Have I convinced you yet? Stay tuned—in Part Two of this post—I’ll validate my assertion that M-Files makes ECM cool.


About Greg Milliken

Greg is the vice president of marketing at M-Files Corporation, where he oversees worldwide marketing initiatives and manages M-Files’ North American operations. Prior to M-Files, Greg served as CEO of Alibre, Inc., a 3D CAD/CAM software vendor, as well as Vice President of Marketing for Knowledge Revolution, an engineering software vendor acquired by MSC Software. He also co-founded AccelGraphics, a 3D graphics hardware provider that grew to IPO in three years and was the eighth fastest growing public company in Silicon Valley in 1997. Greg holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

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