Apr 16 2017

Mastodon – like a 2007 Twitter all over again!

Jason

Was it really January when I put up my last post? This year has flown by!

Over the last couple of weeks though I’ve been using Mastodon, a new social media platform that will be recognisable to some as Twitter from circa 2007, no strange timeline adjustments or adverts, no restrictions on third party apps or missing @’s in replies. Back to basics. There are a few differences though. Firstly it’s an open source platform, mastodon.social was the original but anyone can spin up an instance (I’m currently on mastodon.cloud as @planty, just like on twitter) and so the main timeline you see with all the toots (tweets) are from the instance you’re on, BUT you can also see a federated timeline of these and all the other instances that are out there too!

This difference could be a really good move and a big reason to try over Twitter. You can spin up an instance for a specific subject, keeping the trolls and the noise out. So for example a mastodon.legal, but you can still take part in a wider debate through the federation to all the other instances. Also as its open source there really isn’t any need to monetise and so it should avoid the need Twitter feels to make it more like Facebook!

There are some thinks that could get confusing, for example I think you can have the same username on different stances, so @planty could appear on another mastodon instance, the federated toots show the instance as a prefix so you know which is which. But it doesn’t take much to see how this could be abused. However like I say, this is like early Twitter where rules are formed by the users, I’m currently struggling to remember how I started picking those to follow and build conversations, using things like #FF all over again!

It’s good to be back :-)

Update 19/04: Today I signed up to another instance, one created for legal folk (resipsa.social). Good that the legal community is already onboard, but it also highlighted to me a potential problem with Mastodon, I’d already started on mastodon.cloud so now I’ve got two profiles! I’ve created @planty on both, but there is a feeling that things are becoming fragmented. If I had followers in theory I can export and import across instances, but not the ‘toots’ so for the time being it feels a bit odd.

Will let you know how I get on.

The first tweet I ever made on a now retired username I once used

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Jan 4 2017

Experience in Artificial Intelligence – lessons for Legal IT in 2017

Jason

To start 2017 I thought I’d have a quick look at 2016’s favourite Legal IT topic, Artificial Intelligence (AI). Reason for picking this topic is down to two pieces of technology that I brought into our household at the end of last year that utilise AI heavily. Those are Nest and Alexa.

The former has brought home to me what I think is going to be a key issue in adoption of AI in law firms, that is trust. My Nest thermostat “learns” over time and one of the key aspects of this is watching for when you go out of the house, the system then reacts by turning thee heating down. At the same time it triggers my Nest security camera to turn on. Over Christmas though I’ve noticed, on odd occasions, when we were out that the camera would turn on but the thermostat wouldn’t drop the temperature. Other times though it would, there seemed to be no consistency. After a lot of old style IT troubleshooting and a lot of googling, I eventually found that this wasn’t a bug, but that Nest had learnt patterns and our locations and kept the heating on when it thought our trip was local and brief, thus in its mind turning off the heating was less efficient (as otherwise it would need to heat the whole house from scratch on our return). The camera though it realised should be on immediately.

This is my trust point, until I fully understood what was going on I didn’t trust the technology. I thought it was just not working, so I had taken to manually overriding the settings when we went out. In reality it was working very well and actually better at predicting things that would save energy than I was! This issue though will be the same with Legal IT AI, getting the trust will take time and will probably need a full understanding of how the machine is learning before people will accept AI into the mainstream functions.

Alexa to me is voice recognition starting to become useful, moving from the smartphone (Siri) or the computer (Cortana) to being “in the room” makes so much sense and is much more useful. Whether it’s controlling the lights or simply putting on some music it genuinely is useful rather than a gimmick. It is impressive how Alexa is using all the data it is gathering to improve, however it also shows how far AI has to go in terms of human interaction. It is way beyond having to specifically phrase your commands or questions, but there is so far to go to get beyond a few “skills” it has now.

These two areas fuel my scepticism around AI. No that’s not fair,  it’s not scepticism it’s just wanting an injection of reality into AI within Legal. I am impressed with Alexa and Nest and the more I use them the more I get impressed by the learning, however my expectations for the technology (particularly for Alexa) were not overoptimistic. I think if we adopt a realistic approach for AI in Legal in 2017 then it can and will be a great enabling technology for firms. If we don’t temper the hype though, we’ll be disappointed or fail to trust it and it’ll go in the bin for years before we try it again!

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Dec 29 2016

eSignatures – no nothing to do with vaping!

Jason

Following on from my Uber post on innovative IT solutions, I wanted to look at one of those “been around for ages” technologies in Legal IT that is rarely used in anger yet could be a simple solution, that maybe not ground breaking, would add a real consumer feel to technology in law firm transactions. I’ve been meaning to put this post up after seeing a product in this category again and also hearing from an in-house lawyer team from a large global corporate at the recent ILTA Insight conference.

“Technological innovation is the next step…..simple solutions like e-signature to make sure its used in every context across our global legal community…..through to evaluation of AI tools”

So in the same breath as Artificial Intelligence (surely the buzzword of the year in LegalIT!) a solution that’s been around for ages is mentioned. But rarely does it get mentioned alongside big data and AI within law firms as an sexy “innovative” solution.

So what are eSignatures?

The product that I’ve seen in action recently is Docusign, however it’s perhaps the most boring of tech demoes you’ll see (not the fault of those running the demo!). Simply, like a traditional signature, eSignatures are symbols or other data in digital form attached to an electronically transmitted document as verification of the sender’s intent to sign the document. So the demo for Docusign is integrated into a document signing process, it’s slick and so like a lot of simple solutions doesn’t seem that much. (There is some more info here on exactly how it works: https://www.docusign.co.uk/products/electronic-signature/how-docusign-works)

Adobe Sign is another example with a nice little demo on their site to give you an idea of the process (https://www.adobesigndemo.com/uk/demo/send)

And this year (2016) saw the UK legislation implementing the EU directive 2014, this should be implemented by all 28 member states and so allow cross jurisdiction eSigning. What happens to the UK post Brexit who knows, but I suspect it’ll be some time before our legislation deviates from all the EU directives.

There is a lot of information that is worth reading about how the verification process can work to ensure that the person signing is who you think it is, however sometimes I wonder why we don’t worry as much about fraud and crime in the “paper” world as we do in the “cyber” world. Faking a signature or taking copies of a paper file have virtually no security wrapped around them! But that’s a topic for another day!

So why isn’t it widespread?

Tools like eSignature, document automation, speech recognition and others seem to have been around in some form or other since I came into Legal IT in the second half of the 1990’s. And I think one of the difficulties has always been about engagement with the right teams in the business and also trying to measure and justify the cost. The former is more a challenge in areas like document automation where a lawyers time is needed, this isn’t an “IT product implementation project” it’s business process change to get the real value documents automated. The latter though fits with eSignatures, unless you’re a volume business and you can measure a simple ROI (return on investment) against the cost of say postage or another tangible measure in huge numbers, it’s difficult to see the areas where monetary value could be tracked. But maybe this is it, maybe we need to look at value as something other than £’s, $’s or €’s. Something like the simplicity and feel that a client would get on being able to apply a simple online signature, rather than a paper one. In the consumer world when was the last time you signed a T & C’s document when purchasing something or had to wait for the “paperwork”?

Sometimes it’s the simple things that can give huge value. To quote Steve Jobs “We’ve got to make the small things unforgettable”.

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Nov 30 2016

Legal IT vendors you’re not Uber, you’re just cost cutters

Jason

If there is one company that gets thrown into conference presentations on “disruption” in law firms more than any other it’s Uber. So is Uber really disruptive or is it just innovative?

“A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances.”

In my city it hasn’t displaced established firms or products, I suspect in some cities it has started to put existing firms out of business. But anyway that’s not the point of the article, what I often thought when hearing these talks was what actually are the key aspects to Uber’s popularity? The things that make us use them above other taxi firms? And then how would you achieve the same in a law firm?

For me personally Uber does the following:

  1. Fixes the “the driver is just round the corner” or “the driver is 10mins away” excuses when you asked a dispatcher where the taxi was. You now know exactly where the taxi is and how long you have to wait for it to arrive.
  2. Convenience of booking. No remembering numbers or what the local taxi is. It works how we work, online. A phone is now a computer and no longer a, well a phone.
  3. Lack of taxis during busy periods. Surge pricing is a big incentive to get drivers on the roads, meaning more taxis and less waiting.
  4. Lower cost. But, and it’s a big but, I think is the least important. It’s great it’s a bit cheaper but the above three would encourage me to continue using Uber regardless of a cheaper price.

And it was that last one that got me thinking that the focus in a lot of legal conferences is all about reducing the cost. Using AI to do due diligence to reduce cost, using document automation to churn through documents faster to reduce cost, automating processes to reduce cost, use legal delivery centres to reduce cost.

What we need to do is find the equivalent of the first three, what are the niggles that clients feel everytime they use a law firm? It’s not necessarily an IT solution that a Legal IT vendor can sell. It is more likely to be a simple niggle that every client is facing when dealing with law firms.

In a competitive market keeping costs low and building your market share is important, but the disruptive firm is going to find that problem to solve that’s not about cost saving but getting rid of that annoyance that many clients are facing.

And Legal IT vendors, stop advertising your tech, however innovative it is, as something that’ll disrupt and simply point out it’ll cut costs! This isn’t a bad thing in itself.

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Nov 22 2016

OneNote and Office Lens – hidden gem or does everyone know?

Jason

This is one of those blog posts that I’ve thought about for a while, but worried that I was stating the bleeding obvious and so have put it off. I’ve used Office Lens and OneNote for so long now that I figure others must know about it and be using it? But if not then there are folks missing out on a really useful tool for anyone who needs to collate information from various sources (whiteboard write ups, projector screens, hand written notes on paper, printed documents, business cards etc). Given that law firms are mainly users of Microsoft Office and are now generally on smartphone platforms it’s a great combination for the lawyers.

So here we go.

Office Lens: This is a smartphone app for iPhone, Android and Windows 10 Mobile. Its purpose is to allow you to quickly take notes using the phones camera.

The app allows simple selection of some defaults (whiteboard, document etc) to set things up and then attempts to auto crop the content (and does a good job for most things). You can then fine tune this before accepting the photo, where the app then flattens and straightens up the image (so if you’ve taken the photo at an angle what you end up with is a nice flat image).

officelens

You can then email the document or import quickly into one of the key Microsoft Office apps, the most useful I have found being One Note. It’s a really quick way to collate notes together in a OneNote notebook. For scanned images where the text is machine readable OneNote then OCR’s the content and makes it searchable in the notebook. For business cards you can of course simply photo the card and immediately add the information directly as digital contact to mobile address books – there’s an article here on how to do this.

Best of all it’s totally free.

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Oct 31 2016

Cool shortcuts in Outlook using Office Apps in Office 2013 and beyond

Jason

I’ve been using Office 365 for a while at home and recently it updated to the 2016 equivalent version. It was then I started to notice some nice shortcuts in the email message that will be a real bonus within law firms. The two I noticed were “Suggested Meetings” and “Action Items”, they appear just above the message body.

emailBasically each one appears if they notice things within the email, first up in this case it has noticed some text “catch up ….. this Sunday 11th Sept” which it is using to suggest a meeting for me.

schedule-meeting-2Now in this case the date has passed but from here I can quickly click “Edit Details” and it fills in as much as it can in a calendar appointment, shortcutting the process of scheduling meetings (it even used the email addresses to schedule other recipients for the meeting).

Here’s an example of one that is in the future.

schedule-meetingIn this case I can just add the location if required and click the schedule event button and it’s done!

The “Action Items” option just pulls out from an email the key actions it thinks are required. Basically giving you a quick summary of what’s required from you in a long email.

actionsIn this case a request to see the attachment and a reminder not to communicate further just yet. I can flag for follow up from here.

There is also a Bing maps add-in that recognises addresses from the email and can quickly show you a map of the location within the email body. Since finding these I’ve also found a Wunderlist app add-in that lets me quickly add information from an email into my wunderlist task list.

And the best bit is you don’t need to worry about these adding to the long list of COM add-ins within Outlook that slow down your startup time, these are all of the new Office 365 add-in type that eventually should work across all Office 365 platforms (web, desktop, tablet etc).

I just wonder how emails stored in iManage Work behave? Anyone with iManage and Office 2013 or above care to comment below?

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Sep 28 2016

RIP Project Managers

Jason

OK the title is a bit “click bait” as this isn’t quite the case, but I’ve just been on a Scrum training course for a couple of days and realised the traditional project manager (PM) isn’t part of the team anymore! Product Owners and Scrum Masters are the new roles for Agile project management. Kind of ironic when legal has just embraced project managers, always behind the curve eh! [edit]: I am not saying the PM isn’t required, more that to work in the scrum framework their role changes, see below for more on why trad PM skills are still needed.

It’s impossible to distill a two day course into one blog post, let alone a whole framework. And after two days I don’t profess to be any kind of expert! But with a background in project management, I thought a post that explains some of key takeaways would be worthwhile.

  • First off it’s not a replacement project management methodology, it won’t work for everything and is most suited to “projects” where a product is being developed (the product can be a software development or a “hardware” product).
  • The aim is to deliver to the customer a minimum viable product as soon as possible, thus introducing value as soon as possible. Addressing one of the key issues of the traditional waterfall, that of something tangible for the customer not being available until right at the end of the project in the release or implementation phase. This allows for early feedback.
  • The key aspects are the small teams; the product owner, the scrum master and the dev team.
  • The team has a product backlog that covers everything that might be needed (features, requirements, enhancements etc) is an ordered and estimated list.
  • The sprints (typically of a couple of weeks in length) go through a sprint planning to determine the product backlog items to tackle, then create a sprint backlog of the tasks to deliver a potentially releasable product increment.
  • After each sprint a review and retrospective allows immediate feedback into the process for the next sprint. Improving planning, product and the development as a whole.

 

There were some key points that were raised to watch for.

  • As we covered the Agile Manifesto. In particular the need to keep teams together as much as possible, as the successful team relationship with all the required skills is key. As is the need to face-to-face conversation, it’s not impossible to run across disparate sites but productivity decreases dramatically.
  • The PM isn’t finished, some key aspects of traditional project management isn’t catered for in Scrum. For example, stakeholder management, ROI, governance, marketing, feasibility etc. Scrum caters for the “How we build stuff” phase.
  • Also keeping the “noise” from the team is crucial, avoiding constant interruptions. This could prove difficult where teams are traditionally balancing projects and support demands.
  • Overall it was clear that moving to a Agile framework isn’t an easy task, it’s not just a case of deciding to do it and renaming all your project managers. There needs to be thought on how things are set up, the office, the people and the institutions.

It’s not a solution to all project failures and without a lot of effort I suspect could cause more. But I can see areas where agile would work really well, much better than traditional waterfall methods and would recommend anyone with a stake in delivering projects to find out more.

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Aug 31 2016

A helping hand for following ILTA from afar via twitter by hashtags

Jason

Better late than never, but following #ILTACON on twitter can at times be a little confusing when trying to match the session title to the session hashtag on the tweets. So I pulled together all the session titles together with a link to a hashtag search for that session. Also grouped by the time in UK time in case you’re following live and want to catch what the session is (US East coast take off 5 hours). Hope it helps!

Wednesday 31st August 2016

All times UK
14:00
KEYNOTE: Your Keynote Antidote: ILTACON’s Hard-Hitting News Show – #ILTAKEY3
Remote Users: The Walking, Talking Security Risk – #ILTA093A
Refining Your E-Discovery Reporting – #ILTA093B
Alternative Email Arrangements To Reduce the Clutter – #ILTA093C
Finding a Needle in a Haystack with 21st-Century Expertise Systems – #ILTA094
16:00
The State of Play of Artificial Intelligence in Law – #ILTA095
Matters from Laterals: A Matter Mobility Workshop – #ILTA096
Keep Up With Trends in Today’s Data Centers – #ILTA097
Is Enterprise Search Worth the Money? – #ILTA098
Learning Management System Wild West Shootout! – #ILTA099
PM vs. LPM Project Modeling: Differences, Applications and Templates – #ILTA100
Risk Management Unboxed – #ILTA101
Exchange 2016: Why and How To Upgrade – #ILTA102
Grading Susskind: The State of Legal 20 Years After the “Future of Law” – #ILTA103
From Production to Trial: The Tools We Use and Still Need – #ILTA104
Lights, Cameras, Action! Producing Blockbuster Training Videos on a Budget – #ILTA105
Similar Issues and Solutions: A Small Firms Discussion Forum – #ILTA106
Burnout to Badass: Energize. Engage. Ignite. – #ILTA107
Life After Death by PowerPoint – #ILTA108
18:30
A View from Above: The C-Level Perspective on Change – #ILTA109
Face Your Fears: Embracing Change in the Legal Environment – #ILTA110
Governing Data In the Cloud – #ILTA111
Danger! Navigating the File-Sharing Minefield – #ILTA112
Building KM Together: Creating Collaboration Between Law Firms and Law Departments – #ILTA113
When Project Management and E-Discovery Management Collide – #ILTA114
Mapping the Customer Journey – #ILTA115
Two (and More) Heads Are Better Than One! A Pricing Roundtable – #ILTA116
It’s a Multifactor Authentication Shoot Out! – #ILTA117
Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s with the Right Document Proofreading Software – #ILTA118
Preventing IT Procurement Pitfalls – #ILTA119
iManage Company Update and Road Ahead – #ILTA120
Law Firm 101: A Sneak Peek at ILTA’s E-Learning Initiative – #ILTA121
RFPs: Is There a Better Process? – #ILTA122
20:30
The Essential Toolbox for Data Quality Management and Visualization – #ILTA123
Can We See What They See? A Preview of What Law Department Analytics Tools Look Like – #ILTA124
Finding the Fun in Writing Fundamentals – #ILTA125
How To Effectuate a Better Legal Services Delivery Model – #ILTA126
Unleashing the Performance Power of Your Desktop – #ILTA127
Developing and Managing Emotional Intelligence – #ILTA128
Don’t Do That! Lessons from the IT and KM Trenches – #ILTA129
Windows Server 2016: What’s New, What’s Not? – #ILTA130
The Future of Law Firms in the E-Discovery Space: A Client’s Perspective – #ILTA131
The Why and How of a Paper-Light Office – #ILTA132
Automated Contract Review: Machine Learning Comes to Corporate Law – #ILTA133
Checking for Weak Links: Security Audits of Your Most Popular Platforms – #ILTA134
Effectively Managing Outside Counsel Guidelines – #ILTA135
Aderant Expert Billing – #ILTA136

Thursday 1st September 2016

All times UK
14:00
KEYNOTE: ILTA Showcase: Fast and Furious Presentations by Distinguished Peer Award Nominees – #ILTAKEY4
Business and Legal Aspects of Mobile, Social and Emerging Technologies – #ILTA138A
Innovative Data Exchanges and Collaboration with Clients – #ILTA137
The Evolution of SharePoint 2016 – #ILTA138
Maximizing Efficiencies with Technology-Backed Workflows – #ILTA139
The Intersection Between Records Information Management & Info Governance – #ILTA140A
LEDES Oversight Committee Bi-Annual Members Meeting – #ILTA137A
Evolving DMS Security Models To Meet Client & Compliance Requirements – #ILTA140
16:00
Respond Effectively to Your First Client Security Audit – #ILTA141
A Lab for Next-Generation Leaders – #ILTA142
Data Mining: Leveraging Information To Make Strategic Decisions – #ILTA143
Innovating Together: Building Partnerships Between Law Firms, Clients and Vendors – #ILTA144
Building the Right Infrastructure for VDI – #ILTA145
How Future Technology Will Affect Litigation Support – #ILTA146
Laptops and Tablets and Hybrids! Oh, My! – #ILTA147
Supporting Lateral Attorney Integration Through Knowledge Management – #ILTA148
Making Educated Decisions with Cost-Benefit Analyses – #ILTA149
Is Physical Office Space Really Needed? – #ILTA150
Why UTBMS Codes Aren’t a Waste of Time – #ILTA151
The Wikipedia of Legal: ILTA Staff Legal Industry Perspectives from the ‘80s, ‘90s and Today – #ILTA152
18:30
Choosing the Right Artificial Intelligence for the Job – #ILTA153
Kicking It Up a Notch with System Center Configuration Manager 2016 – #ILTA154
How To Establish Data Classification and Improve Client Audits – #ILTA155
Threat Protection for Virtual Systems – #ILTA156
IT Project Portfolio Management – #ILTA157
Reinventing Traditional Support Staff Roles in a Buyer’s Market – #ILTA158
A Road Map To Gathering and Analyzing Client Discovery Data Across Matters – #ILTA159
Helping Lawyers Meet Ethical Obligation of Technical Proficiency – #ILTA160
Pain-Free Video-conferencing with Clients – #ILTA161
I’m in Charge! Now What? Skills for New Managers – #ILTA162
19:45
Can Information Rights Management and Document Management Systems Play Well Together? – #ILTA165
ILTA Town Hall – #ILTA166
Hacking Law Firm Innovation – #ILTA167
The Dark Web: The Wild West of the Internet – #ILTA168
Learning to Prosper Using Client Data You Already Have – #ILTA169
A New Approach To Aligning the Objectives of Outside Counsel, In-House Legal and Corporate Business – #ILTA170
Gather ‘Round for a Litigation Support Roundtable – #ILTA171
The Gang’s All Here! A Marketing Technology Roundtable – #ILTA172
Onboarding: A Process Mapping Exercise – #ILTA173
Current Threat Landscapes and Protective Measures – #ILTA174
Extreme Makeover: Webinar Edition – #ILTA175
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Jun 22 2016

Tikit signs new partnership deal with NetDocuments

Jason

I don’t usually blog about press releases but the news today from Tikit is worth a post. It’s been quite a year in the document management world (looking back at my last few posts, there are a higher proportion of DM posts than anything else), and today Tikit announce  they have signed a global partnership agreement with NetDocuments.

From a purely commercial sense as a reseller it seems an obvious move, there are likely to be more new installations for NetDocuments, simply because most folks have already got iManage and if you’re moving the only alternative is ND. I suspect resellers make more from new sales than ongoing support costs. Also there are many competitors in the iManage reseller, services and support space and not so much in the ND space, so first to a new market and all that.

Does it change anything for iManage customers? Probably not. But it offers a bit of validation that ND has moved into the space of #1 challenger in the DM space. As the world moves to a SaaS/cloud/hosted model it will be good to have two companies vying for business to accelerate development.

For Tikit it gives comfort that they are still  pushing in legal, though when I heard rumours of a press release this morning my initial hope was to follow iManage’s lead and an MBO from BT :-)

A few lines from the Tikit release:

This new partnership, which makes Tikit the first Global Premier Partner for NetDocuments, is a continuation of our strategy of offering choice to the market and offering customers the best of emerging technologies from existing and new partners across the world.

Our product roadmaps will remain the same, but integration with NetDocuments will shortly be available for our products, TMS and eMS. As always, we will continue to invest in our own products, making sure they are kept up-to-date, to deliver what our clients and the market wants and needs.

 

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May 25 2016

Well it’s back! iManage Gear Up returns with a new moniker ConnectLive!

Jason

London

Through the dark days of Autonomy and HP, iManage blew away the cobwebs and returned with a new version of the old “Gear Up” user conference, titled ConnectLive 2016. To celebrate it’s return a rather unique post , dual authored with Mubashir Mian. First my view of the conference through a view of day one and Mubashir will cover his view through day two.

Day One – author Jason Plant

Keynote

Things kicked off at the Park Plaza Riverbank London with the usual keynote address, giving a chance for some old faces (Dan Carmel, Neil Araujo, Mohit Mutreja, Rafiq Mohammadi) and some new faces (Dean Leung the new Chief customer success officer) to run us through the rebirth of iManage and what it means for customers. It does feel like someone at the top of the new iManage issued a “The Internet Tidal Wave” style memo to the firm, that famous call to action that Bill Gates sent round Microsoft in 1995, the one that refocused the software giant back on the right path.

There were three key things that came across to me at the keynote: 1) They understand the “new professional” in law firms and their requirements, 2) they understand the desire for firms to use the data from their DMS’s for other purposes and 3) they realise quality and customer service was lacking in the dark days of Autonomy and HP and are actively doing things to improve this.

To highlight point one, there was a video that was shown during the keynote that for me summed up the vision for iManage products and how they see them enabled the new professional, better still gave a timeline for this to happen. If there is anyone from iManage that reads this, can you point me at a direct YouTube or Vimeo link so I can link it here?

Edit: Thanks to iManage here is the link : http://go.imanage.com/2016-New-Professional.html

And on point two there were some nice demos of the analytics work iManage Labs are doing, for example, using the data in the DMS to look at threat analytics using machine learning. A nice concept to identify rogue behaviour that is more intelligent than simple thresholds. There were also demo’s of the compass UI that uses analytics to show you info around documents, emails, matters, people, relationships etc. Given the number of documents and vast amount of meta data in our DMS (Document Management System) it will be interesting to see how these concepts develop to leverage value from that data.

Sessions

At this point in the day I got hijacked by Dan to record some customer thoughts on the key concepts iManage brought up in the keynote. It was a glimpse into the life of television and endless takes, I’m sure I answered one question five times and really got sick of hearing “just try that one again”.

I did then get to a number of the sessions, but I’ll highlight a couple:

iManage Share

I saw what was LinkSite quite some time ago and the current incarnation is still very similar to early days, just more polished. The view that you get from within the worksite application (sorry iManage Work) is really slick and has a great UI and UX. And although the client view is nice, with a slick interface now using “html5 type” functionality, like drag and drop files to the website for me I can’t get past the feeling that it’s still another interface for the client if already using a deal room (e.g. HighQ)

But within worksite the UX back and forth is really very slick, very few clicks to do stuff. Audit trails kept etc. Integration into outlook so if attachments go above limits it suggest replacing attachments with smart links (however if you’ve got Workshare too this could mean a pop up for send and file with WorkSite EMM, another for meta data stripping from Workshare and then one for smart links!!). Again with attention to detail they’ve thought through a few of the client access requirements too, so the login requirements are minimised.

On the roadmap are SAML SSO compliance (H2 2016), responsive interface (H2 2016), BYO key for encryption (H2 2016) and in 2017 video, comparison and enhanced collaboration.

iManage Cloud

I posted a tweet during this session that sums up my thoughts, I don’t need to say who the other cloud is in the Legal DMS world is do I?

The iManage solution is more a “hosted” solution in my opinion, it’s the iManage stack that you know but built, managed and looked after by iManage in their datacentres. The benefit is that moving to it really is as simple as a DNS change from the address of your servers to theirs (once the data migration is done of course!). There was lots of information in the session on the hardware that will support this, that the implementation is yours and not shared, on the security aspects and on the locations they’re building out in the US, Europe and AsiaPac. It’s a different proposition to the competition, thus my tweet, and it will be interesting to see which get’s traction as I’m sure “cloud” will become more and more a part of legal.

Summing up day one

One of the most surreal things about the new iManage is the number of old faces that are back, and it was great to see so many of them over in Europe (Aaron Rangel, Tim Hurren, Melody Easton) along with those folks who stayed through the HP days but rarely got to these shores (Chris Rubert, John Fenley, Garth Hermanson) and of course Geoff who’s been with us all this side of the pond through the whole journey. A great opportunity to catch up with these folks.

Overall I thought the day was a great start to a two day conference, I only could attend one day though and as such the day felt a bit rushed. The keynote didn’t kick off until 11am and then the sessions were pretty much back to back until the day concluded. If I could offer a suggestion it would be to start the day earlier and have more gaps to network and chat to vendors. The end of day drinks are a great time to catch up and the time between these and the dinner was just about right.

 

Day Two – author Mubashir Mian

To echo Jason’s comments, there was a great vibe throughout the event, an energy and enthusiasm from the iManage folks that hasn’t been seen in a while. A distinct and memorable theme was iManage viewing their different types of users as personas. A “new professional” is someone on the move, accessing and sharing content across smart devices and remote working options; “classic users” requiring performant, stable software on their day-to-day workstations to carry out the bulk of the work. It’s a pretty good idea and although I’m not sure it is as neat as that in a law firm, the definition is well enough to work around requirements for both camps.

I talked to a number of iManage team members at the event, each keen to share the developments in their respective areas – management, mobility, support, server, consulting. Everyone displayed great passion in what they do and were full of optimism for the future. A cynic might say the post-MBO high is still at work, but to counter, there have been major milestones delivered – White Rabbit, 9.3 and there’s strong strategic planning across all the components which are complementing each other harmoniously.

Just a quick follow on from the first day sessions, Mohit did an in-depth technical session on Work Communications server. Personally, I’ve been closely involved with the product since the beginning (see here and here) and have gone through its many iterations and faults. The strong message given was think about upgrading to 9.3, or at least 9.2.2. There is a lot of work gone into these later releases and even though due to the ever-evolving nature of Work-Outlook-Exchange it’s always been “work in progress”, the latest version is robust and can handle many different scenarios around delegate filing & sent item filing (every Work techie’s nightmare) and Mailbox Sync. I’ve resisted Mailbox Sync so far and speaking to my peers they have similar concerns about it’s impact on Exchange but the new “event driven filing”, which will come in 9.4 sounds interesting and will work with Exchange on a lighter footprint.

Moving on to the second day, Nancy had an interesting session on Office365 covering amongst other topics, co-authoring in Word. Admittedly, I’m not sure how much uptake there is for co-authoring over here, but as Office365 and Office 2016 deployments are taken up within the enterprise, this will become more common. Working with Exchange online and Work’s use on the iPhone and Mobility were delivered in some detail.

Something you hear with the new iManage is a recurring message of “we should be doing this already”, a tangible example of which is the introduction of Control Centre. This is designed to update the admin tools that have been around for years and are woefully out of date. The team were clear to convey their direction – that the Work product software should come with its own ability and tools to administer the software. There was talk amongst peers of an inevitable clash with partner products, however I don’t see it this way. The products that are widely used in the customer base have been around for some time and have matured to what they are today. iManage seems like they’ll focus on rebuilding the core and so there will always be a market for supplementary third-party products.

A regular feature in iManage events is a Feedback from the Field session, where the support teams relay back what common issues they’ve seen and what the latest patches & software builds are recommended if you are looking to upgrade today. It’s almost always run by Chris Rubert, this time joined by John Fenley and its still invaluable now as in the past – this session itself makes it worthwhile attending an iManage event. One thing I did relay was that even though it disseminates excellent knowledge, it never quite finds it’s way back into the iManage websites where you can find it again. A tip I found that works for me is before looking at a version upgrade, find the slides from the last known event, an ITLA or a user group and use the recommended release versions from there. Hopefully this will be taken on board and using the (now excellent) Help Site, this dynamic information can be found quickly.

The team are involved in generating a lot of content and knowledge which will be hosted in the Help Centre. Personally I’m a big fan of the podcasts, I find them an easy way into a topic that is new (the iPhone app, for example) rather than picking up and reading the huge manual. A really interesting feature that’s coming is to expose the NT lifecycle on the Help Centre, meaning when a problem is reported by another client, iManage will make it visible at the earliest possible point whilst working to apply live updates on when the problem will be resolved. If I had a pound for every time I reported a bug and got given an existing NT number…

There was ample time to network with partners and colleagues from other firms and overall, it was a superb event. Clearly a lot of effort & dedication by Geoff, Melody and the rest of the UK team and great engagement from Dan, Neil, Mohit and the exec team.

Mubashir Mian is the Senior Applications Specialist at a major City law firm. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed here.

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