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).
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.
To kick off 2016 (where have the first three months gone!!) I thought I’d put up a post based on my recent talk at the British Legal Technology Forum in London. The talk was titled as this post and looked at some of the key challenges Legal IT have for the core technology lawyers use in their day to day work.
I started by using consumer technology to show how a simple tool can become really complicated.
We started with a simple concept of a handful of TV channels.
Then we introduced digital television through satellite and multi-channel offerings, which was great initially as we had choice. But then came the competing sports channels, meaning if I want to watch all football competitions, the cricket and the boxing I needed to pay for multiple extra channel packages.
Then came the multiple delivery platforms, so I no longer can watch everything with just Sky I need Sky, Netflix, Amazon etc.
So before you knew it something simple had become a complex range of services and channel packages to watch all the TV you wanted. Posing the question:
If we then play through a similar story in Legal IT we see the same complexities.
Whether it’s the choice of mobile device, do I go iPhone or Blackberry? The choice of device to work on, is the future Surface type hybrid devices or iPad Pros? Then even in the software delivery things get complicated, so do I download Outlook from the Appstore or use the desktop app or maybe I use the web app?
It’s enough to drive a lawyer mad!
So what does the future hold?
In the talk I took a journey through the key areas for a lawyer to see how things could become simpler. How do we go from the existing, at times still very Windows XP type world, to a simpler future?
Documents are key to a lawyer and in this space Microsoft are already moving into a much simpler Office model with Office365. The ability to edit documents on different devices or on the web. Bringing mobility and allowing you access, through OneDrive, to your documents wherever you are. And the big DMS (Document Management System) providers get this, talking to the new HP free iManage you get the feeling they understand this new world and have real plans for the direction Microsoft are going. In the shorter term they are already releasing versions of their mobility app on iOS that allows easy editing within mobile versions of Office.
NetDocuments are also aware of this and have plans for 365, they’re also in the cloud already so document access anywhere is easy.
Finally I touched on some discussions I’d had with Microsoft and their move to look at allowing document mark up using their pen technology that they have with the Surface. Imagine being able to mark up the documents with a pen and then manage them inside the .docx using track changes/comments in document review.
Here I briefly talked about the IntApp/Rekoop merger and the indication that there is a real understanding of the mobile news of lawyers, moving their technology very much into the cloud and mobile space.
Finally I talked about communications and how in the consumer world it’s simple enough for grandparents to set up and use video calls, but that also we need to be aware that there is a new wave of people entering the workplace where using a phone to talk is quite alien! A lot of law firms are using Skype for Business, some enlightened ones are actually replacing handsets off desks and really making calls and IM truly mobile.
The final section of the talk took a look at mobility, looking at the different ways two software giants are taking. Focusing on mobile as the device or looking more at the mobile person.
The Citrix strategy seems more about making your desktop or your application available on many devices, so in the talk I showed the concept of running your firms desktop on an iPhone or iPad using Citrix Receiver (and XenApp or XenDesktop in your datacentre). I also showed a cool device that Citrix have launched called the X1 Mouse, this talks to Citrix Receiver on the iOS device and allows you to use a mouse with an iPad! So when paired with a Bluetooth keyboard aswell gives a very mobile desktop experience.
Then I looked at Microsoft’s strategy, which is more about developing the apps as universal apps. This allows them to run on any device size, but change the behaviour based on that size. It also has the advantage of not needing a large datacentre implementations to facilitate it. Plug it into a full screen and it just works like a desktop app. So as you can see from the images below you plug the phone into a dock (which has USB ports for peripherals, e.g. mouse and keyboard but also USB drives etc) and it behaves like a Windows 10 desktop with start menu etc. Clearly Windows Phone (or Windows 10 Mobile) hasn’t a huge market share, but I think Microsoft’s play is to bring in a new kind of smaller computing device to work on rather than go after a smartphone consumer. It is a concept much as the first Surface RT was, one that will iterate a couple of times until we all go “Oh Yeah, now I get it!”
I finished off summarising things by saying what lawyers really want for their future world are two simple things:
Get the basis right – make the documents, finance, communications apps quick, simple and easy to use without all the complexity.
Mobility – prepare for a world that makes it possible for a lawyer to do their work wherever they are on whatever they want. This is the mobile lawyer, not the mobile phone.
I did have a few slides at the end on Artificial Intelligence, but this was really as it was mentioned in my early synopsis and I needed to at least touch on why I hadn’t covered it in detail!
I came across a small article on news site for Windows Phone (yes, yes, small readership) about a new beta app from Microsoft called Outlook Groups. This is a feature I hadn’t heard much about, but that has apparently been introduced to Online Outlook in Office365. Anyway long story short, this could very well be one of the best additions to Outlook in a long time. A way to finally kill all those “All-<insert distribution list here>” emails that clog up exchange email systems of law firms. Basically it’s a collaboration space built around groups.
Say you have a distribution list for “Project Work Related”, rather than create a traditional list of email addresses under the distribution list you create an Outlook Group. People are then added to the group.
You can then email this “distribution list”, the emails are collated though in the Group view as shown above, I can reply to the conversation in this view. I can also start new threads. So rather than having to find emails and threads in my Inbox where I lose context of the particular project in amongst all the other junk email I see all the communication in one place.
As well as using Online Outlook to view and collaborate with the group I can continue the conversation using the mobile app.
The emails I send and receive also appear in my Inbox, this to me is both a pro and a con. Pro: I can continue to use a familiar tool (Desktop Outlook) and therefore don’t have to go to yet another product to use groups. Con: It’s not quite getting rid of my email clutter, though I know I can delete the emails quickly if they are emailed to the group. Maybe Office 2016 will integrate groups much better than the Office 2013 client shown below?
But the great thing about the groups concept is that it isn’t limited to just email, it hooks in the whole Office365 ecosystem. So as soon as I create the group I get a shared calendar (events are displayed in the group and I can simply click or tap a link to add to my own calendar).
I get a OneNote notebook, where the group can share notes amongst its members.
And finally I get a OneDrive space for my documents. So for example I can add and use documents using either the outlook group page or outlook group app above. However I can also go into my Onedrive and get access to the documents there.
Now at the moment it looks like the functionality isn’t integrated into the OneNote apps, nor directly in the Onedrive apps. So I can’t go into the Onedrive app on my iPad or Windows Phone and get the documents (even though I have my Onedrive for Business account set up). But I really can’t see why this functionality won’t be extended into these apps, when it does it will mean direct from within the Office Apps (Word, Excel etc) on the iPad I have access to create and edit documents within my group space.
For me this is the really exciting part for law firms. Having all the shared emails, documents, notes all in one place and that one place not being your personal inbox is fantastic. It will be interesting to see when the Office 2016 announcements soon, whether the groups functionality is brought into the desktop applications as well. Imagine if this collaboration space was surfaced through Outlook 2016 on the desktop, through the Outlook apps on your phone and online. That the documents could be edited directly from Word 2016 or Work on your iPad. And that notes made on the train on your iPhone would appear in the same notebook as your colleagues OneNote on their desktop in the office.
The question for Legal IT vendors, particularly in the document management and collaboration space, is how they will react. Surely the time is coming again to stop the proliferation of point solutions and hook up to the Microsoft 365 bandwagon. This has got to be the future for document and email dominated industries like law firms surely!
iManage seems to be back in the game, technically I realise it never went away but over the last month or so they seem to be on a real social media push. I mean I’ve actively been encouraged to blog about some of their new products on the horizon, those who’ve followed this blog for a few years will know just how surprising that actually is!! I’m not complaining at all, this is great news.
So this blog post is just some of my thoughts on the products they’ve had on show over the last month or so at user groups and CIO briefings.
First up the “White Rabbit project”, this has been in development for a while but is starting to near an initial rollout. What is it? Well it’s effectively a new interface for the WorkSite DMS (document management system), not a replacement for FileSite or DeskSite but a brand new web interface using responsive design, built using HTML5. So this should work as well on your PC as it will on your Mac or Android phone.
I have to say it’s pretty impressive. With an intuitive design and “in app help” it should be easy for the lawyer to pick up without too much training. As said it’s not intended to replace exisiting interfaces into WorkSite (although overtime I suspect it will replace WorkSite Web), but there will be a rolling programme to rollout some of its features into some parts of FileSite/DeskSite; the admin dialogues etc This can only be a good thing as the search, profile and security dialogues are looking a bit old fashioned and unintuitive in this day and age. There are some really well thought through amendments to viewing, this is built to facilitate better mobile experience. The document is streamed to you as you read, so on a mobile device that 500 page document won’t kill your 3G connection.
Next up the cloud is back on the agenda, can’t help think this is a response to the emergence or netdocuments and Matter Centre from Microsoft. Though I don’t see this as a transition to SaaS ala Satya Nadella’s moves at Redmond. This is more a “look we know you’ve got all these terrabytes of old archive data now, let us look after them for you” approach. At least that’s the way it seems to me at the moment. Given the success of Mimecast maybe this is a sensible move?
Finally a word on LinkSite. There was a big rush a year or so ago to be in the “dropbox” space by many vendors, unfotunately I don’t think though firms saw this as big enough of an issue to rollout out an enterprise wide solution. My personal view is that it’s such a shame LinkSite its not platform agnostic as their interface into WorkSite is excellent! It’s that “other end”, the HP cloud access, it’s a little too parochial for me, the ideal would be the LinkSite integration with SkyDrive or Box at the other end with the app support they bring across multiple platforms. Still I understand their (iManage) reasoning, because they own the whole experience they can develop something that looks so seemless. The Apple approach!
To wrap up, just a final word or two on cloud. Last month saw netdocuments announce new developments in their encryption, and today (7th July) they announced they received the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 27001 Certification confirming NetDocuments meets or exceeds international standards for data privacy, security, and information governance practices. You’ve also got Microsoft pushing their auto encryption ability in the Office 365 Exchange email platform based on the emails content (ie if it seems personal information such as bank details it will encrpyt the message). Email and Documents are the staple ingredients of law firms and their clients, so inevitably there is still the “on premise, on premise, on premise” mantra (you only have to read the recent LinkedIn online discussion following comments in an article in the latest Legal IT Insider – page 9 comments from Farrer & Co IT director, Neil Davison), but the consumer demands of access from anywhere combined with security offered by SaaS providers surely is pointing to a cloud based future for the core functions. After all, as I said in the LinkedIn post above, “why as IT depts would we want to spent all our efforts keeping operational systems running when we could use our sparse resources on strategic projects to help grow our firms?? We’ve allowed the Iron Mountains of this world to look after our clients data for years in paper form, it’s only a matter of time before we make the shift surely”.
But I love the fact that the DMS (document management system) world is hotting up up again. It’s been a stale environment for a few too many years andso I hope the iManage developers crack on and deliver White Rabbit asap, netdocuments continue to push their product and Microsoft continue to build on Matter Centre in their 365 world. I suspect we may see at least two out of the three 😉
I know, I know this post is late. Very late. I posted my last bulletin from ILTA back at the beginning of September and now we’re a few days from the clocks going back at the end of October! Yes, back at ILTA Microsoft launched their legal DMS (Document Management System) entitled “Matter Centre”. Developed for their in house legal team (not an insubstantial team, 1100 employees across 55 countries), they have decided to open it up to the legal world in general. The press release can be found here with details of what’s on offer, basically it offers the functionality of a DMS as you’d expect.
Two areas were of interest to me:
1) It’s built on Office365. So for a small to medium firm you can now have email (via Exchange), instant messaging and telephony (lync), your intranet (sharepoint) and your DMS (matter centre) all in the cloud. All secured by Microsoft. All monitored, managed, backed up by Microsoft. All the business continuity and future proofing you could want from a top class infrastructure team managed and all delivered for you by Microsoft. What’s more you can access at the office, on the move or at home with ease. It’s a compelling case for a firm that hasn’t the IT resources to manage a bespoke on site set up.
Now the downside for me is the DMS is effectively SharePoint at its core. I’m still not 100% convinced on SharePoint, however the potential manageability and scalability issues are taken away from being your problem, so maybe it’s not a big deal?
2) Now although I’m wavering on the first point with it being SharePoint underneath, this second point for me is the killer. Apps for Office, the method of integration for Matter Centre isn’t the old plug in method but the newer Apps for Office developed for Office 2013 and Office 365. This brings much slicker integration, the look and feel just works with Office. So no additional toolbars that look out of place or dialogue boxes designed for Office 2 or 3 versions back, it looks slick.
So as you can see from the photo above with Outlook, the Matter Centre “dialogue” just appears in the email body. Now I have to say the system looked very much beta 1 and some of the apps need a bit of polish. But, this has to be the way to integrate a DMS in future! With a bit of thought and design you could craft an interface that just feels as though its the norm for office. In fact think how OneDrive is now integrated as the default over the C: drive.
The same integration is available in all the Office products, so below is the integration into Word:
Again instant access to the Matter Centre system integrated into Word. And installing them is simple, just go to the appstore and install!
For the IT dept. Microsoft has released a product called Telemetry Dashboard which will allow monitoring of all the apps installed across the user base. As the Microsoft blurb says, you can “monitor loads and load failures for apps for Office in Word, Excel, and Outlook. This information will tell you which apps for Office are frequently used in your organization and which apps for Office are experiencing errors”.
This for me is the key feature of Matter Centre, the use of apps could potentially allow me to install the DMS on my home version of Office365 and get seamless access to the DMS. It’s a feature I hope the current DMS vendors will take a look at and maybe design and build a user interface from scratch for Office 2013 onwards, maybe also throw in a nice “DeskSite” Metro app in Windows 10 and we’ll have a DMS for the future!
Back in June I did a talk at a conference on mobility. There was a bit of future gazing from me on where I thought law firms would go next with their desktop PC’s. It was a conference sponsored by the UK magazine Computing, unfortunately one of their journalists then reported what I’d said as the current strategy for our firm!
Today’s launch of the next version of Windows by Microsoft, Windows 10, made me more sure that the future of legal desktops is from the Redmond company rather than from Cupertino. The following are the highlights I picked out, things that iron out those kinks in Windows 8 to make Windows 10 more of a certainty in law firms.
“Continuum” – this is a new feature that adapts the OS to the device, got a keyboard and mouse and the new modern UI apps will open in windows and the device acts like a Windows 7 desktop machine. Snap off the keyboard and use like a tablet and things revert to a full screen more touch friendly interface. You could do it in Windows 8.1 but this now works as it should, automatically.
The Start Menu is back. This wasn’t a big deal for me, but for lots of folks it was. So can only be a good thing it’s back, allows that desktop or modern UI split in a seamless rather than jarring way.
Desktops for different purposes. You can use one for personal and one for business. I’m not sure whether this is more than Windows 8.1’s ability to have a desktop on one monitor and a modern app on the other, it sounds like it but information is light at the moment.
I’m sure there’ll be much more over the coming weeks, but I’m convinced Windows 10 and the hybrid desktop/modern UI works for legal. Allowing old legacy apps to continue in a desktop mode as now, but then brings the flexibility to pick up the screen and access data in a modern touch friendly way on the move. Also this will be one version of Windows for phone, tablet and desktop with one Windows Store. This one platform and the develop once platform Microsoft are pushing should be great news for legal vendors. In fact it’s the one thing I liked about their Matter Centre product they demoed at ILTA (more about that in a post I promised early in September but have yet to write!)
But to pinch a headline after seeing the launch today, I do believe Windows 10 could be the catalyst for law firms next PC refreshes!
Just read some more on Windows 10 and the new security features really stood out. Whereas bitlocker in Windows 7 protected the data on the device, Windows 10 will have an additional layer of protection using containers and data separation at the app and file level to protect the data wherever it goes – on tablet, PC, USB drive, cloud etc. Very interesting from a law firms point of view in protecting client data.
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).
For those unfamiliar with the business offering of Office365 (as appose to the same named consumer offering of 5 copies of Office for the family) it allows firms to let Microsoft run an Exchange email, SharePoint intranet, website and Lync messaging infrastructure in the cloud, all managed by Microsoft. Setup is simply choosing your plan based on numbers in the firm and then some fairly simple admin.
I already know of one UK law firm that is utilising Yammer as an intranet platform, but unfortunately they made the decision to forbid discussion of client or matter information, so you have to wonder of its usefulness to the firm. The issue everybody has is the worry of “security”, that someway if the data is on your own server things feel so much more secure. However as one tweet from #LTNY (Legal Tech New York) this week highlighted:
Also another “security story” caught my eye this week. It was how the owner of a coveted one character twitter username lost this name to a “hacker”. The thing is it transpired that the loophole wasn’t any IT system, in fact the twitter security held up against the initial attacks (further details here and here). The cog in the machine that let him down was an employee! You can play this entire story through and realise that using the same social engineering techniques could easily have worked against the data being held “inside a law firm” as to in the cloud.
I am sure that it is only a matter of time before law firms start to switch to services like Office365 and legal vendors like NetDocuments in a big way. I think unfortunately we rely too much on technology to protect us, whether its on our home PCs virus checker or our corporate firewalls, when the weakest link is probably the person sat in front of the PC. Of course its harder to sell education and changes of behaviour, but maybe government initiatives like the current “Cyber Streetwise education campaign” will start the ball rolling that can then roll into initiatives within firms.
You can’t help think that these technologies are now the utilities of firms, like electricity, essential technology but give no business advantage to the firm. So those early cloud adopter firms could free their IT people to focus on the technologies that give their firms an advantage in a competitive legal market. Or the cynic may say they would just reduce their staff and news from #LTNY could make cynics of all of us!
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:
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
The name of Microsoft’s latest internal project name made me smile as this was used as an internal IT project name early in my career at our firm. The project was our first look at matter centric document management, some years I’d like to add before the big two legal DMS providers were moving this way! Four years after we implemented that system we launched a “Project Apollo” which brought a matter centric iManage WorkSite 8.x into the firm.
So what are the Microsoft “Gemini” apps? These are Microsoft’s touch optimised Windows 8 Office applications. They are rebuilding the user interface (UI) of office from the ground up to ensure it works extremely well with touch devices as well as with a traditional keyboard/mouse combo. Beyond the “Touch friendly” Office 2013, think the interface of the OneNote app in Windows 8 over OneNote bundled with Office 2013.
Now I know there are many that think Office is dead, but in my opinion these people out there with those that insisted that the Y2K bug was going to be then end of the world! Also after a good few months running a Surface after a year or more with an iPad, I think the dual touch & keyboard/mouse approach is the way forward. The iPad is excellent for annotation or a bit of editing and there are some fantastic apps in the iOS world to help this, but it just isn’t suited for heavy duty document editing, spreadsheet work or presentation creation. This is the beauty of a Windows 8 tablet and what will be the core of “Gemini”. It still looks as though Office will also appear for the iPad at some point and for the editing use cases it will be a fine addition.
So with “Gemini” on the horizon, which legal IT providers are going to take up the baton for us and allow us to launch a “Shuttle Program” within our firm? If you’re interested here are my requirements basic requirements:
A touch friendly DMS (document management system) app, that works with the “Gemini” UI design and has the ability to launch into Gemini Office
Full integration into “Gemini Office” with the simplicity of the SkyDrive integration in Office 2013
A well designed user interface for email filing in “Gemini Outlook”, something like simple swipe gestures to file or a OneNote like rotary menu to access actions for filing
A well designed reader app (like Pocket) for the DMS to allow me to build a simple offline reading file that I can swipe to turn pages
The Microsoft “Gemini” Office apps are earmarked for summer of 2014 for Windows 8, I really hope we see some innovation from legal IT in this area next year also.