The enterprise file share and sync (EFSS) space is an incredibly busy one with much angst of late. First, it was the news that Huddle, one of the early players in the space, was acquired in a fire sale manner by a private equity company. Then came the news that Citrix, who famously acquired EFSS vendor ShareFile a few years ago, was giving up on the product, and also playing nasty with the competition. Meanwhile, all the other players keep on keeping on – from Box, made famous by its charismatic CEO, Aaron Levie, to Microsoft and Google who offer EFSS as a part of their broader suite, to Egnyte, who is playing in the hybrid space. Indeed, the recent Forrester report about the space showed the plethora of different vendors in the space – and when you consider that there are a huge number that didn’t make the report, you can see how busy the space is. (And as an aside, I’m dubious about the report findings, especially given my previous comments about Huddle and Citrix ShareFile)

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So in this world where there are so many competing solutions, the idea of unifying information, no matter what EFSS system it is stored in is an attractive one. And so we have M-Files with its announcement today. M-Files calls itself a next-generation intelligence information management platform. That mouthful essentially means that, rather than simply being a storage provider that helps organizations to come to terms with the bulk of its data, M-Files is all about the unification of systems, data, and content – no matter what systems or processes are being used.

M-Files not only covers the EFSS vendors, but also network folders, regular content management solutions and even the back office CRM and ERP tools. And today they’re adding to that integrated value proposition with the announcement of their so-called Intelligent Metadata Layer that aims to deliver a unified and simple interface across different solutions.

If we look at the problem that this offering is hoping to resolve, it all makes sense. The sheer amount of data organizations need to contend with is skyrocketing. At the same time, organizational IT is becoming more and more complex, both internally, and among the myriad external stakeholders that need to be collaborated with. What this means is that data exists in a huge variety of different systems and it is almost impossible to standardize on a single solution. M-Files is, therefore, trying to resolve these information silos to ensure everyone has access to the information they need.

To back up the suggestion that this problem actually exists, M-Files conducted a study alongside Dimensional Research in an effort to identify the proliferation of information silos and its impact upon organizations. Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) said they feel their company struggles with managing information silos, and 67 percent cited that navigating through different systems and locations to find and verify the most current versions of documents or files negatively affects their productivity.

So the timing would seem to be good. Miika Mäkitalo, CEO at M-Files further puts the case for what they’re doing saying that:

M-Files 2018 introduces a new approach we call ‘intelligent information management’ that has driven analysts, industry experts and all types of organizations to completely re-think their traditional definitions and approaches for managing information. M-Files 2018 signifies the end of the myth that ‘all content must reside in one system.’ Our vision has always been that it doesn’t really matter where information is stored; what’s important is the actual information itself, as well as what it’s related to and the context that makes it relevant.

Intelligent Metadata Layer covering all the bases

M-Files is really pulling out all stops to integrate with as many enterprise solutions as possible. Users can now search and browse, all without actually migrating data across a huge range of systems. Connectors supported at this time include:

  • Network folders
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • FileNet
  • iManage
  • SharePoint Online
  • Box
  • OnBase
  • DocuWare
  • Salesforce
  • Dropbox
  • Laserfiche
  • Syncplicity
  • OpenText
  • Documentum

No announcement is complete without some AI love

This is 2017 and therefore every press release needs to have its share of AI buzzword usage. M-Files is no different and this release includes AI to help users by automatically analyzing, classifying and tagging documents and other information. According to the company, key aspect of this is establishing relationships with objects in other systems, such as relating a document to a customer, project or case managed in a CRM, ERP or HR system. These relationships, along with other metadata, establish context that can vary by role, workflow state, and even individual preferences, to create a dynamic and personalized experience that lets users work the way they want without the organization giving up control.

MyPOV

I’m all for unlocking information silos. I’m also over the plethora of EFSS systems and like the approach, M-Files is taking – it’s not about trying to compete with all the EFSS vendors out there, but rather to give organizations the ability to embrace the range of different solutions they use. A pretty compelling story from this vendor.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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