Last Wednesday (13th Feb) I attended the Bighand user conference in Manchester. First off a big hand for Bighand, finally a vendor puts in a lot of effort to hold a quality user conference outside of London and well done to the firms that turned out and made it a successful event!
I like the Bighand events, they have a good mix of general business/legal keynotes, product information and specific breakout sessions. It’s like what Interwoven used to do with their Gear Up conferences, but sadly no longer do under either their Autonomy or HP guises.
The keynotes on Wednesday were from Dame Sarah Storey and Neil Rose (Legal Futures). Dame Sarah’s talk was about her journey as an athlete which was fascinating, a Paralympic who’s won gold medals in two sports. Neil had to follow with a talk on ABS’s (Alternative Business Structure) which wasn’t quite the talk of an olympic athlete but was a great introduction to ABS’s in the legal world. One point I noted mid talk was when he was discussing a firm in Silicon Valley that offered advice in a relaxed coffee shop atmosphere, lawyers like “Apple genius’” in the jumpers with the firms logo on. It caused a chuckle in the audience which to me shows how far the UK has to go to rid itself of its stuffy suited image and really embrace new business models.
Next up was the product information and below I’ve written up the key product take aways that I noted:
First off were some mobile offerings:
FreeMe was a dictation app for iPads, built from the ground up rather than a port of the iPhone app. As well as the obvious dictation functionality it allowed iPad “open in” functionality from emails that then open the attachment in FreeMe for review with dictation controls on screen, to allow you to dictation notes to send back to BigHand.
Then it was the turn of their new BlackBerry 10 App. When this was announced I thought it was an odd launch. After all BigHand hadn’t launched a Windows Phone 8 App yet, a platform that was released some months ago. “But it’s a small market share” I hear you say, very true but the BBX platform has zero market share at the moment. My guess is RIM (or BlackBerry as I guess we should call them now) encouraged enterprise app developers to produce BBX apps for launch, something Microsoft really should have done! But it’s all a moot point as it was mentioned that a Windows Phone 8 app is in the pipeline from Bighand.
Next up was some info on Bighand 4.4 for the desktop:
Here we have some nice integration with Lync to show presence information when sending dictations. Handy if you need to ensure you send to someone who is available.
For the speech recognition module there were a couple of new wizards demoed. One that helps you to set the optimal recording levels for your microphone and another for training your voice to the system.
Last up was some work Bighand are doing on workflow. Integrating WorkSite and Speech Recognition into one workflow. You right click in FileSite, select dictate, it auto profiles the dictation with data from WorkSite and then once you finish the dictation and document are linked together for future reference. It’s a shame I didn’t photo the slide as it shows it much better than I can describe it (maybe if someone from Bighand is reading this they can send me on the slide?).
The afternoon was set aside for the BigHand breakout sessions. I attended a couple, one on speech recognition for which Charles Christian tweeted a nice summary “is speech recognition a marmite technology – some love it & some hate it“. Then one on mobile device management, led by MobileIron. The take away here was that BigHand are developing their mobile apps against MobileIron’s app management API’s to allow you to manage and control their app using the popular MobileIron platform. I hope they will also look at the Citrix app management platform next and provide a BigHand mdx for use in the Citrix platform!
Overall a good day. Thankfully my exit from the conference was timed perfectly as I missed the spectacle of Big Mills in lycra at the very end!