M-Files, an enterprise content management solution, ends a successful year with this week's release of v10.0. With it, M-Files tackles the problems of traditional, folder-based enterprise content management (ECM) navigation, as well as the problem of developing hybrid cloud-on premises systems. Both issues create considerable problems for business users with limited technology skills, impeding user adoption, the company reports.

ECM User Adoption

Many users complain ECM systems are too complex, difficult to use and hard to integrate with legacy systems. In fact, Ken Burns, analyst relations manager with Hyland Software, noted  in an interview with CMSWire that the complexity of some of those systems is pushing some users to easier-to-use file share applications.

Hyland’s agile approach to this problem has been to offer the functionality users need in set verticals with easy scalability. That has kept it in the Leaders’ Quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for ECM the past four years.

M-Files has been adopting a similarly agile approach to ECM. A different but equally responsive answer to market need, the solution helped push M-Files into the Gartner ECM Magic Quadrant for the first time in 2012.

For ECM vendors, the situation is clear: agility, scalability, cloud responsiveness and mobility are key attributes they have to provide. In all four areas, M-Files has been developing functionality since it spread from its native Finland to the US and Europe.

M-Files v10 and Metadata

What's new in v10? As a full point release, there are too many enhancements to list here.  Full details will be available on the company's website on Thursday. In a recent blog post by Greg vice president of marketing at M-Files, stated the emphasis of this version is an improved the user experience:

M-Files 10.0 moves ECM from a complex, technology-centric tool to a business solution that dynamically manages and processes information based on its context and business relevance, which allows those closest to the business need to intuitively organize and access the right information they need in order to get the job done faster and with higher quality."

Everyone is talking about user experience and everyone is working on user experience, but for M-Files, there is a substantial change in the ways users access information in v10.

M-Files v10 metadata card.jpg

M-Files v10 metadata card

Specifically, this means a new user interface that provides easy, intuitive access to content no matter where it is stored, whether on PCs, tablets or smartphones. In effect, it simplifies the use of dynamic content in the cloud and on-premises by managing information according to the type of information rather than where it is stored.

M-Files v10 Interface

The interface is metadata-driven, which solves the problems posed by traditional folder-based ECMs that limit content to a single location. It also prevents users placing the same information in a number of different workflows. In M-Files 10.0, unique information shows up dynamically, in context, wherever and whenever it is needed without duplication, thereby eliminating those workflow issues.

M-Files v10 UI.jpg

M-Files v10 User Interface

This corresponds with findings in Forresters recent ECM Wave for Q3 2013, which noted that interface flexibility and agility are key user requirements now:

Empowering the user to configure the ECM interface is a high priority for a successful adoption, providing transparency to the way the user wants to work ... M-Files offers an entirely fresh approach to ECM, with a metadata- and search-driven UI rather than the traditional folder and subfolder navigation scheme."

The new interface also allows users to edit document metadata easier, enabling non-IT users the ability to organize and manage relevant content-based information.

M-Files v10 Hybrid Deployments

The other big push in v10 is the optimization of its cloud abilities — or to be exact, its hybrid abilities. With the focus on metadata, M-Files has built a document management system which successfully straddles cloud and on-premises deployments. It does this by enabling enterprises duplicate data across distributed repositories and deployment types based on metadata.

The result is that it offers the same user-experience whether they are working on-premises or in the cloud, with updates synched across both as they happen.

However, the real joy here is that it also enables enterprises pick and chose what data they want to move or sync, based on business or compliance needs. From a practical point of view, this reduces the amount of storage space enterprises need and improves content security.

Other Improvements

The list of new additions in v10 is enormous. But a number of them stand out, including easier integration with other systems like SharePoint, top-end customer relationship management systems and enterprise resource planning systems.

In keeping with the interface improvements, it also offers a variety of improvements to the UI Extensibility Framework that enable comprehensive customization of the M-Files user interface. There has also been some redesign of the social features. Version 10 will be available for download on Thursday, as will full documentation about the enhancements.