Feb 25 2014

It’s touch friendly MS Office first for the iPad and now an Android phone from Microsoft?


Much has been made on numerous tech sites of the alleged Microsoft decision to release the touch friendly version of Office dubbed “Gemini” first on the iPad rather than on their own Windows 8 tablets. The angle a lot of the articles have taken is that this somehow highlights a huge vote of no confidence in Windows 8 and that even Microsoft favour the iPad over their Surface and Windows 8 tablet devices.

I don’t think this is the case, my feeling is Microsoft realise that their long game is to get us all hooked into their cloud based Office365 environment. After all in terms of long term revenue streams, that is where they will make the money over time. But couldn’t they still do this by launching on the iPad after the Surface? Well yes, but the early adopters of the Surface devices will already be running Office2013 which when combined with keyboard covers mean the device is already ahead of the iPad for document production and spreadsheet editing. So it does make sense to target the iPad contingent initially and pull them into the Office365 eco system.

Then this Monday (23/02/14) the same type of lazy reporting comes out of the Mobile World Congress. Headlines scream Nokia are going Android, but what they’re doing is launching a forked version of Android on some cheap handsets for emerging markets, they won’t hook into Google Play at all and will have their own app store. Again they’re designed to bring people into the Microsoft ecosystem with OneDrive, Skype, HERE maps etc integrated and a very Nokia Lumia (Windows Phone) UI on top. Still, I’m actually more convinced on the Office play than this one, although I can see where they’re coming from in terms of the ecosystem I struggle to see how the Nokia X can be that much cheaper for emerging markets than say the Lumia 520. Especially when you consider the loosening of the hardware restrictions this week for Windows Phone.

But what this does all show is that it’s not about just products anymore, it’s all about the ecosystem. Apple understood this first and tied up a good chunk of the consumer market, Microsoft is aiming to do the same in the corporate space with Office365 and Azure. Throwing a line to the huge iPad user community with Office Gemini or leveraging an Android development team for cheap entry phones is just a long game play for Microsoft.

The question to Legal IT vendors is how are you going to plumb into these ecosystems? If you’re coming along to LawTech Futures 2014 in March I’ll expand on this topic and question a bit more in my talk (straight after lunch on the Lounge Stage).


Jan 2 2014

Looking back on 5 years of blogging part 1 – Wrong predictions!


For the last four years I’ve started the year with a series of predictions, but after five years of blogging I thought I’d spend a few posts looking back at some of the things I’ve written in that time. Starting with a highlighting a few posts with predictions or ideas I got a bit wrong.

First up are a few posts from 2009 which were a little off the mark:

I started in January 2009 raving about what a great idea Microsoft Tag was, well QR codes have sort of taken off but I think Microsoft have long since retired the tag! – Microsoft Tag – perfect for the paper file?

Also in January 2009 I thought that a product acquired by Google may become the enterprise twitter, however I suspect few now even remember Jaiku. Now Yammer there’s another story…. – Jaiku v Twitter

In May 2009 I didn’t so much get a prediction wrong, but reviewed two great twitter products that were both taken over and then either disappeared or left to the dusty top shelf of technology to whither away – Tweetdeck v Seesmic Desktop.

In 2010 I was clearly hedging my bets, or more likely making a U turn faster than Bill Gates on the internet! I started in January 2010 convinced that the iPad would fail in the corporate world (Apple iPad – a disappointment for legal) but by June 2010 I was extolling the fact that it was now a game changer in the corporate world (Stop printing your emails – the iPad’s a game changer!). If you ask me know I would say the tablet will enter the corporate world en masse in the next few years but it won’t be the iPad (apart from as a BYOD device).

Finally one from 2013, so soon to get things wrong? Well yes, I somehow got excited by the Q10 as a possible saviour for BlackBerry. I then carried this into LawTech Futures 2013 where I suggested that BlackBerry’s Secure Workspace product would do the same. I think 2014 will prove me wrong on both counts. – BBX (BlackBerry 10) – spoke too soon?


However for balance I also took a look back on my very first Top 5 for Legal in 2010 and had put : Instant Messaging, Windows 7/Office 2010 and Mobile Apps. These are all pretty mainstream now in Legal, the other two Search and Speech Recognition have been tried and are continuing to be pushed by law firms. Top 5 Legal IT technologies of 2010


Jun 22 2012

The Eagle has Landed – Microsoft launch “Apollo” aka Windows phone 8


I know this is another “mobile phone” blog post from me, but I make no apologies. I think mobile and BYOD (bring your own device) is one of the biggest changes that will happen in Legal IT in the next few years.

I also think this weeks announcement from Microsoft will be the start of a turning point for Legal IT mobile technology. The slow shift from BlackBerry to other platforms will start to gather pace with Windows Phone 8. There are a few features that have been announced in Windows Phone 8 that allow this platform to be considered as a real corporate alternative to the BlackBerry.

The first couple are already available on other platforms but they fill a hole that Windows Phone 7.5 had, which are on-device encryption and over the air updates. The former is critical to safeguard data in law firms. I’ve not seen the exact specs for this, but one can hope that the enterprise can manage this along side encryption provided in Windows 7 and 8 on the desktop (ie effectively will be the same Bitlocker technology). Over the air updates are a must for a large law firm, can you imagine the need to tether 1000+ devices to Zune to update??

A new feature which differentiates Windows Phone 8 is the OS integration with VoIP technology. By default Microsofts Skype will be integrated (although later reports indicate this may be allowed to be removed by carriers wanting to protect their phone call revenue!), but it is available for developers so you can pretty safety assume that Lync will get fully integrated! By integrating at the OS it’ll link with contacts and phone as if it was the native interface and will work with all Bluetooth attached devices etc.

Also the kernel of Windows Phone 8 is shared with Windows 8. Now it may be a while before law firms switch to desktop 8 but Legal IT firms that move their platforms to be Windows 8 compliant should find it much easier to leverage those apps in WP8 too. There will also be the ability to set up corporate app stores to manage the delivery of apps internally.

For consumers the Microsoft Phone Wallet sounds interesting, combining NFC technology (near field communication) and an account manager for credit cards, frequent flyer cards etc. Not sure of the benefits directly for Legal IT, but for a travelling lawyer maybe. Again these are available in the latest Android devices and rumoured to be in the next generation of Apple devices.

There is a “split” in the OS as you’re trusty “old” Lumia 800/900 look like they won’t get an 8 update, but MS will introduce a 7.8 release for older devices. There are few details yet, but it sounds like the kind of split iOS does with newer devices, ie you’ll get all the features that the old hardware can manage (ie you won’t get the higher res features as the older phones don’t have the display etc).

Whether we like it or not, in law firms Microsoft technology is king. And this won’t change anytime soon, much to the annoyance of those who still persist with the Microsoft is buggy/poor mantra. So if i was a betting man i would say the natural successor to RIM devices will be Windows Phone 8, but this will bring Android and iOS into the law firm more and more as the management of devices will be less linked to one device.


Nov 28 2011

“Siri, will speech recognition ever take off in Legal?”


Last week I attended the Bighand user conference at the excellent Renaissance Hotel in St Pancras (take note certain legal IT company whose only user event I attended the previous week). Rather than write up a review of the whole day (there’s a good one here if you’re interested) I thought I’d comment on an item that was high on the days agenda.

Speech Recognition.

Now before I get accused of following certain people or the current trend generated by SIRI let me first point out item #1 on this blog post of mine from the 1st January 2010!

But the feeling I got from the conference is that finally the tech, that has been around in Legal ever since I’ve been in this vertical, is finally reaching a point that it is useable. The latest version of the Bighand product (4.2) uses the new Nuance 11 engine and from the demo shown on the day is impressive (demo online too). The workflow with transcribe and proofing seems ideal and the tools given to the secretary to control the dictation playback with the resulting document for amendment is well thought out. I seem to recall in a previous Bighand session that this correcting by the secretary would help with the teaching of the speech recognition software for that author (I could be wrong on this one so check with Bighand first!)

With a bit of work with the API that Bighand now provide you could create a great Fee Earner interface from the DMS (document management system) that would ensure the document being created is started on the correct template, filed in the right place and transcribed ready for a secretary to finish the document.

There were some good case studies from law firms who had started to use speech recognition. Stating that the transition wasn’t difficult for existing Bighand users, but the lawyer had to want to embrace the technology (due to the initial time taken to teach the system and perhaps having to adapt dictation style for better results). Also feedback was not that this led to reduction in secretaries (those lawyer-secretary ratios were high enough already!) but to enabling the secretaries to do other work for the lawyer.

The key point that stood out from the day though were some comments generally on the technology. For a while I’ve thought that maybe dictation was a dying technology, after all the “younger” lawyer is used to typing his/her own documents right? Well this generation maybe, but the next generation is growing up with the likes of SIRI. Maybe this generation is a blip before lawyers throw themselves back at dictation and with the advances in the technology maybe speech recognition is now a viable solution to both improve efficiencies and to make those straining lawyer-secretary ratios work!


Oct 12 2011



Well it’s been a bad few days for RIM this week (and I dare say a difficult time for a fair few IT depts in law firms as a result). And it looks like it isn’t just contained to EMEA either, reports suggest a spread to the US now.

A few things spring to mind off this:

1) It’s going to be one heck of a case study for IT service failure. From the technology that failed, the (lack of) disaster recovery and what resilience was built into a critical system through to studies into how not to manage an incident (the failure in communicating to customers etc). No matter how much redundancy you put in place we know things like this do happen in IT. But for your core product, in RIM’s case, there seems to have been no contingency (although in the aftermath this may end up being something truly unavoidable) and worse still no method of communicating good up to date information to the customer in place. It’s even worse when you consider the mainstream 24hr news services have been carrying the story and would have surely loved to broadcast comment and updates direct from RIM.

2) It’s a real kick in the teeth for cloud computing. Another provider (Office 365 outage, Amazon outage, Google Apps/Mail outage, Apple MobileMe outage) suffering a major outage and thus clients seeing service outages for their own customers.

3) In the corporate email and smartphone arena it’s a big bonus for Apple, Google and Microsoft. The other three key competitors in the smartphone arena. Also for services like Good Technologies who provide app based email solutions for enterprise.

RIM were on the back foot as it was, their main benefit over their rivals was enterprise strength email solutions (although personally I don’t buy into the whole BlackBerry is less of a risk that ActiveSync type technologies argument, but there you go). This reputation though has been dealt a big blow with this incident and they’re going to need some excellent PR work and customer deals to stop a desertion of the enterprise to rivals.

There are plenty of lawyers that use Apple or Android devices already (more so outside the UK), and now Windows Phone has a release that puts it on a par with the others. So at the moment it seems like RIM’s days are numbered.


Jan 28 2010

Apple iPad – a disappointment for legal


A lawyer sits in an airport lounge, pulls out the iPad and connects to the firms document management system (DMS) through the Autonomy iManage App in the AppStore. She flicks through the correspondence folder, checks her teams filed emails and reads up on the clients comments to the agreement draft. She then decides to dictate some amendments to her secretary using the built-in microphone. Launching the agreement from the DMS, she highlights the paragraph needing amendment and also launches the BigHand dictation app ……

<Fail> No multitasking on the iPad!

There have been plenty of posts why the iPad falls short some I agree with some I don’t. But as a device for lawyers or other business usage I think it’s a case of “not there yet”.

As well as lack of multitasking, I think for a tablet to be a great tool for a lawyer it would need to replace the touch keyboard with a stylus/pen and good handwriting recognition. Marking up a document on a tablet with a pen surely is the “revolutionary” vision Mr Jobs?

It’s not far off and to be fair to Apple I never thought it would be a business tool, it’s a consumer device. But as a consumer I’m personally not convinced there is a gap between the smartphone and the netbook. I prefer the former on the move and if I wanted something a little more the later would be more convenient (and less tied into the Apple eco system!)

So after all the hype, the multitude of blog responses (including this one) I’m left with the feeling that with the iPad Apple have maybe left us with another :-

Apple Newton

The Apple Newton

“magical truly revolutionary product” – Steve Jobs on the iPad

Perhaps it’s just too early for the technology that will make the tablet a real killer device. I think there is a gap (especially in business) for tablet PC’s, but the revolution will only come when it’s as convenient as a pad of paper or a paper magazine!