M-Files & the Future of Intelligent Information Management
With all the information flying around in businesses today, M-Files has been helping businesses succeed by improving efficiency and maximizing the reusability of information by using M-Files’ unique metadata-driven architecture, you can find the right document instantly with a simple keyword search.
Recently, they have secured a EUR 27 million financing agreement which they plan to use for international growth, partner channel expansion along with accelerating their R&D. I was able to reach out to Miika Mäkitalo, CEO of M-Files to ask a few questions about what they plan to do with the funding.
What do you intend to do with this latest round of funding, and how does M-Files intend to use it to advance the business?
Miika: "M-Files will use this newly secured financing to fuel our continued international growth, partner channel expansions and accelerated R&D in Europe. As the need for intelligent information management solutions grows rapidly, we are expanding our global footprint and our offices in the UK, Germany, France, Australia and the U.S. M-Files grew revenue by almost 40 percent in 2017 over 2016, including strong growth in both direct sales and through our global partner network, now numbering more than 600 partners worldwide. This financing will continue to fuel that momentum. M-Files will also use this funding to advance our intelligent information management platform, so we can continue to redefine how companies around the world manage information and data."
M-Files is about the future of intelligent information management. How does M-Files hope to change the landscape of document management?
Miika: "There is a paradigm shift happening in the enterprise content management (ECM) industry. The amount of data and information that companies are being tasked to manage is increasing exponentially, and so are demands related to compliance. Legacy ECM or document management systems take the one-size-fits-all approach of moving all information in a single system, which often fails due to huge efforts and costs required, lack of user satisfaction and the continual rise of new systems for specific tasks. Today, companies are struggling with chaotic document management: information is proliferating across multiple disconnected systems and being stored in silos. As a result, employees can’t quickly locate the information they need to do their jobs and productivity is greatly impacted. M-Files solves these problems by delivering a simple, unified experience for intelligently finding, working with and interrelating information residing within all those systems, without disturbing existing processes or the users that depend on them. This system-neutral approach to managing information across an enterprise without migration is a vast departure from antiquated legacy ECM systems and encourages businesses to innovate and scale."
How do you differentiate from other traditional ECM vendors?
Miika: "Unlike traditional ECM vendors, M-Files requires no migration of existing data and processes. Our Intelligent Metadata Layer connects easily to existing systems like network shares or SharePoint and, using artificial intelligence (AI), it establishes a full set of content services like metadata enrichment, auto tagging and classification, version control, access rights control and more – even if the underlying legacy repository does not support these features. In addition, we connect to structured information from ERP or CRM systems to create a full 360-degree experience for the user. Instead of adding another information silo to the company - which typically happens when old-school ECM systems are deployed - M-Files unifies all existing information and processes and elevates them to a higher level of usability, relevance, transparency and compliance."
What trends are you expecting in ECM for 2018?
Miika: "In addition to boosting innovation, intelligent information management solutions such as M-Files provides better transparency, better user satisfaction and ultimately better value. In 2018, we will continue to see that organizations will find traditional ECM systems to be too cumbersome and will directly move to intelligent information management to replace manual, paper-based or file-based processes. The organizations that deployed legacy ECM systems in the past will transition to use repository-agnostic systems for new processes and accessing old data without migration. The increased use of artificial intelligence will help to create context, automate processes even further and address growing compliance needs. Additionally, intelligent information management will be focusing on hybrid content services solutions that can be deployed on-premises and in the cloud with an identical user experience and functionality across both. This will be extremely important moving forward because even if a company chooses to deploy the solution on-premises, M-Files will make them “cloud ready.” This means that they can move portions, or all, of their deployment to the cloud at any time."
M-Files New Partner Referral Program
Along with this financing that they have received M-Files has also launched a brand-new partner referral program which will capitalize the growing demand for information management expertise. For this past year M-Files UK recorded a 78 per cent year-on-year revenue growth, this is in fact due to the success of its channel partners. They have decided that in a pilot program they will be joining the two business units channel and direct sales operations together aligning their goals and targets. The enhanced program will bring boarder partnership opportunities along with improved referral or co-sell agreements.
So what does this actually mean for M-Files? Well it’s great for their partners that may not be in the position to invest the time and resources required to be successful as an M-Files reseller. The approach will support a drive for strategic technology partnerships so that organizations who currently deliver their own technology solutions can easily partner with M-Files to deliver content management alongside their existing propositions. Generally, channel programs require a substantial investment from the partner, this new program will allow partners to start working with M-Files far more quickly and at much lower level of investment.
Tim Waterton, Director of UK Business at M-Files stated that this will allow both M-Files and partners to capitalize on each other’s expertise, industry knowledge and customer networks.
“Delivering technology solutions like M-Files requires four distinct skills or disciplines – identifying a potential customer, selling the solution, implementing the solution and provision of ongoing support. Most organisations are just not naturally set up to provide all these components out of the box; particularly for a third-party product. In practice a potential partner might be incredibly well placed to source opportunities and support the sales process but be less well prepared to implement and support the solution. Equally, other partners may specialise in implementation and support but lack the front-end marketing and sales skills.
The new referral and co-sell options address that middle ground by enabling organisations whose customers are struggling with information and document management challenges to service that market opportunity in partnership with M-Files. Similarly, members of our well established Authorised Services Partner program who have certified implementation and support capabilities can work closely with our direct sales team to complement our in-house delivery teams.
Waterton concluded: “In essence, we’re taking a much more holistic approach – by assembling a broader range of partners we can now leverage their collective skills to service more customers with greater flexibility. We are simply making sure that we line up the best M-Files team for every customer; irrespective of whether that is made up purely of M-Files staff, partner staff or a combination of the two.”
Currently the referral program is being piloted in the UK and then will be introduced company wide, once proven.
With their latest funding and updates, M-Files is really setting themselves up for positive future. This company has been on the forefront of document management for a while and it will be interesting to see what next steps they will take.
I’m sure that their aim for M-files to be more accessible will likely turn them more into a household name in the document management industry. Stayed tuned as I will follow their growth!