I can only start this post one way…”corporate dropbox”


As it’s been a while since the last post (my thoughts have been elsewhere during May and June) I’m going to stick to some familiar ground until I’m back in the swing of writing; so a post on documents. In particular the “dropbox” conundrum. Although I will mention a few of Legal IT contenders in this space and the challenges they will have, I’m not going to go into detail of how their products work. No, the question for me is where does the DMS (document management system) fit into all this and is it (corporate dropbox) a direction we want to go in?

It was Office 2013 that started me thinking about this again, with its switch from “C:\” being the default File location to having SkyDrive front and centre. A colleague had sent me this comment during a discussion on Office 2013 and Windows 8:

“The move to SkyDrive and other features such as Office on demand point to a big shift in Office not been seen as just on a PC in the office but giving you the ability to access your information anywhere. The question will be will Legal DMS’s be able to handle this type of mobility, I suspect we know that answer already. Which if the answer is no that then raises a bigger question, is [insert any DMS here]  the right platform for us going forward.. ?”

Mobility for me is the key here, why else do people use “dropbox” or “skydrive”. It’s mobility of the data, whether that is to access the content on your Surface or iPad or on your PC at home. And as I alluded to there are a few of the Legal IT big names that are moving into this space. In particular, Workshare and HP Autonomy. Both look to leverage their existing products in Legal IT. Workshare Platform thus integrates into the workflow of their Workshare Professional products to move the document from desktop to “cloud” (see video below)


HP Autonomy LinkSite leverages the workspace concept in WorkSite to move the document from the DMS to the “cloud”. Each of them have platforms to facilitate mobility, whether tablet apps or desktop folder synchronisation. Another option out there is DocAuto’s connector that integrates WorkSite with the Citrix onsite or offsite ShareFile system. This allows you to publish documents into your ShareFile for mobility.

To me though these are addons to a document system that law firms already have, in the cost conscious current environment will law firms pay for the licences for a “corporate dropbox”? Yes I know it’s more secure etc but let’s say it’s £100 per seat (a guess) , for a 1000+ person lawfirm that’s a six figure investment. Maybe with security on a par with costs in CIO’s thoughts the risk avoidance will win, but more likely  the outcome will be stalemate ie no “corporate dropbox”, but heavier restrictions on dropbox, google drive etc. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this article written by Jeffrey Brandt. (which this morning was shown to be a hoax, although this highlights an issue, it isn’t helpful in ”selling” a secure alternative to dropbox – meaning unauthorised use of public versions continues!).

The answer to the costs for me is for the vendors to tailor the products as Apple do with Apps and have “in app purchases”. So the basic “dropbox” functionality is free, you then pay for the value added stuff “in App”. So that could be integration with the DMS or Document comparison in the cloud etc.

But back though to the fundamental question, shouldn’t this be a function of the DMS? I think this is one of three key areas DMS vendors need to start answering going forward:

  1. Should email be stored in the DMS? The physical email I mean, I think a view of emails in the matter file should be.
  1. Should just a basic search be a function of the DMS and more complex searching become part of an enterprise search portal?
  1. Mobility. How will the DMS cater for the dropbox, iPad, Windows 8 world?

And for item three there is one key question for the rest of us, are we ready for the security challenges ahead in this space or will we retreat to our “safe cave” of technology?

Floors open guys, what do you think?