M-Files Simplifies Unstructured Content Management with AI
Last week, M-Files, the enterprise content management software company, announced that it has acquired Apprento Inc., a New Brunswick-based artificial intelligence and natural language technology provider, in an effort to simplify unstructured content management and related processes for an undisclosed amount.
Founded in 2012, Apprento, a small, privately-held company, is specialized in providing a technology that derives intelligence from text in unstructured content. Therefore, with the integration of Apprento’s technology, M-Files primarily aims at providing more contextual insights on related content assets and workflows while streamlining the process of classifying, processing and securing business information. Since the Apprento Business Context Engine offers natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU) capabilities to interpret both semantics and concepts in content and communication systems, the acquisition makes great sense for M-Files as with such technology, the vendor will enable its users to manage their metadata process more effectively and efficiently.
Speaking to CMS-Connected ahead of the acquisition, Greg Milliken,Senior Vice President of Marketing at M-Files, commented on the ECM market and how M-Files stands out from the crowd with its metadata-driven architecture. “The enterprise content management market has been around a long time, and the traditional strategy is characterized by a static, one-size-fits-all approach, often entirely dependent on a hierarchical folder structure that classifies documents and information by storing it in this location or that," said Milliken."Rejecting that outdated approach, the M-Files intelligent information management platform organizes information based on what information is and what it's related to, rather than where it's stored. AI lends itself quite naturally to the “what” vs. “where,” metadata-driven approach to information management. In fact, it's like jet fuel to this approach since it automatically populates the critical metadata that defines the "what," a key factor in ensuring that the most useful information is accessible in an intuitive way, in context, right when it's needed."
He also shared with us what attracted them to Apprento as an acquisition opportunity: "As we got to know the team at Apprento, we saw huge value in their experience with applying natural language processing and natural language understanding to practical business needs, such as automating and simplifying how business information is classified and managed. Beyond the technology, we realized that their strong team would be an excellent complement to our own existing internal team, bringing deep knowledge right in an area of AI that we had already been focusing on. As a result, an acquisition was a natural and easy decision for us.”
The acquisition comes a month after we reported on M-Files adding more AI functionality to its platform through a partnership with ABBYY, an artificial intelligence (AI), text-scanning and optical character recognition software provider. The expected result of this partnership was to provide a more intelligent and streamlined information environment that ensures consistency in how content is categorized and intelligently linked to other relevant data, content, and processes.
"Business leaders, industry analysts and others who follow our industry all agree that traditional approaches and solutions for managing information are inadequate and that a new and more intelligent approach is required," said M-Files CEO Miika Mäkitalo in a statement. “Our acquisition of Apprento coupled with our recent partnership with ABBYY reinforces our commitment to deliver human-like intelligence to the massive volume of unstructured content that resides within disconnected systems and repositories in the typical enterprise.”
The Burden of Ever-Expanding Data for Digital Enterprises
Supporting records management, regulatory compliance, and business continuity are one of the most fundamental features of any ECM suite, according to Gartner. Moreover, these ECM solutions also have to meet international standards and industry regulations like FDA, SEC, and HIPAA. Due to an ever-increasing amount of data, many organizations are struggling with these large volumes of documents, records, and data, as a result, many times data within organizations ends up being duplicated, out of date, inaccurate or disconnected from current enterprise initiatives. It does not only diminish the productivity but also comes at a huge cost, especially when the lost document is required by tax authorities or regulatory agencies, or the content is needed as evidence in litigation.
Last year, Gartner named M-Files the only visionary in the ECM Magic Quadrant. Regarding that recognition, Jim Geary, executive chairman at M-Files Corporation commented: "We're succeeding because M-Files offers a fundamentally different approach that unlocks information and breaks down silos. With M-Files it's all about context, flexibility, and simplicity, making information accessible in a unified way across the organization no matter where it's stored. The result is a 360° view that ensures the right information is found quickly. Couple that with an intuitive interface that people love to use and it's easy to see why M-Files is growing so much faster than the rest of the market.”
The Impact of AI on Content Management
The burden of an exponential increase in the amount of data is the 'coup de grâce' for leveraging the power of it. However, one of the premises of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms is handling massive amounts of data while extracting value out of it. In other words, AI technologies enrich unstructured content and provide contextual relevance and insight. Furthermore, the advanced AI areas of self-learning systems could suggest the best taxonomies for data, multilingual image interpretation of audio, images, and video and Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms. NLP, for instance, provides organizations with greater insights and intelligence into the massive amount of unstructured content so they can make informed decisions based on real-time knowledge graphs of an enterprises’ system of record.
Gartner has projected that 40 percent of new enterprise applications implemented by service providers will include AI technologies by 2021. One of the most prominent drivers behind this fast-emerging trend is that enterprises are really looking for solutions that work end to end and the advanced technologies like artificial intelligence bridge the gaps on organizations’ digital transformation and innovation journeys.
To satiate this obvious interest and get the lion's share of the market, vendors are in stiff competition to beef up their platforms with the power of new technologies. To appeal to enterprises, vendors are either executing a lower cost of entry strategy like the case of OpenText’s Magellan vs IBM Watson or, conducting thorough market research to directly address the pain points that customers are facing. For example, regarding the newly expanded partnership between Box and Microsoft, the CEO Aaron Levie said Box has spent the past few quarters mentioning the idea to clients and assessing interest, which he said is significant. The results of technology partnerships and acquisitions do not only help ECM vendors innovate more and more but also ripple out into many disciplines in the tech industry. Microsoft, for instance, works on matching Amazon’s lengthy list by adding partners and products to its portfolio.
Gone are the days when enterprise content management systems were focused on locking up documents and other information in silos with complicated interfaces. It turned out the ECM solutions were offering organizations the illusion of control because traditional ECM solutions missed out on the social aspect of content such as collaboration and integration. That’s why leading ECM vendors started rethinking how enterprise content is managed. To address all of these issues, they leveraged usability, customer success programs, analytics, and simplified file sharing and collaboration capabilities. At the end of the day, what the vendors are striving to accomplish is to digitize manual workflow, leverage business process and increase efficiency while cutting cost.