Enterprise content management (ECM) software vendor M-Files has taken the wraps off of M-Files 2018, a major new release of the company's system that can access, unify and manage information across multi-vendor systems without the need for data migration.
The vendor is touting the software as the next generation of ECM technology, even designating it "intelligent information management," for managing documents and other content regardless of where it is stored.
The volume of documents and other content is growing rapidly, as are the number of enterprise applications accessing those documents and corporate information.
"And that trend is not slowing down. In fact, it is accelerating," said Scott Erickson, senior vice president of worldwide channel sales at M-Files, in an interview with CRN.
The challenge of managing all that content is that it often resides in multiple, disconnected ECM systems, Erickson said. Those information silos also complicate information governance and compliance tasks.
At the core of the M-Files 2018 release is the new Intelligent Metadata Layer technology that the company said creates a unified, simple interface that makes it possible to search, access and manage documents and other information in other ECM repositories without actually moving the data.
The technology identifies and organizes information based on what it is, using key words such as a document's title or dates, rather than where the data resides, according to Erickson. And it supports connectors to external systems, providing access to the information in multiple repositories through desktop, mobile and web applications.
The content in other systems can also be enriched with metadata, enabling its users to establish relevance and context when searching for information across multiple systems, according to the company. A document in SharePoint, for example, can be classified as a contract and related to a customer account in a Salesforce.com application.
The company offers a long list of supported content management systems including IBM FileNet, OpenText, Documentum, DocuWare, Laserfiche, Hyland OnBase, Box, Dropbox, Syncplicity, and Microsoft SharePoint Online and OneDrive, among others. Connectors for Google Drive and Microsoft Exchange are being developed.
"M-Files 2018 signifies the end of the myth that 'all content must reside in one system,'" said M-Files CEO Miika Makitalo, in a statement. "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."
M-Files relies on the channel for a significant percentage of its sales and Erickson said the new release provides partners with a number of opportunities, including services and support, implementing connectors between M-Files and other ECM repositories, and developing custom connectors where needed.
The new release also expands professional services opportunities for partners who can help customers with business process re-engineering projects around content and document management.
"This [release] really gives partners a platform to help their customers organize all that information and solve the problem of rapidly proliferating data," Erickson said.
In August M-Files acquired Apprento, a Canadian developer of artificial intelligence and natural language technology. Erickson said M-Files plans to add those capabilities to releases of its software in 2018.