Apr 8 2016

Technology for the future lawyer

Jason

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.

Old style simple TV of the Eighties! Multiple TV channels, Multiple platforms

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:

So are we better off?

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!

Stress. Woman stressed is going crazy pulling her hair in frustration. Close-up of young businesswoman on white.

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

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.

Finance

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.

Communications

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.

Skyping the Grandparents

What do you mean talk?

 

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 mobile lawyer

Citrix

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.

Citrix Receiver and the X1 mouse in action 1Citrix Receiver and the X1 mouse in action 2

Citrix Receiver and the X1 mouse in action 3Citrix Receiver and the X1 mouse in action 4

 

Microsoft

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!”

Microsoft continuum in action 1Microsoft continuum in action 2

Microsoft continuum in action 3Microsoft continuum in action 4

 

I finished off summarising things by saying what lawyers really want for their future world are two simple things:

  1. Get the basis right – make the documents, finance, communications apps quick, simple and easy to use without all the complexity.
  2. 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!

You can listen to the talk in full and see a copy of the slides to follow on the British Legal Technology Forum website.

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Jan 5 2015

Speaking at the Enterprise Mobility & Mobile Device Management conference

Jason

Happy New Year to everyone!

Just a short post to start the year, below is a short video interview I did after speaking at Whitehall Media’s 4th Enterprise Mobility and Mobile Device Management conference towards the end of last year.

Answering some key mobility questions:

  • How is Mobile Application Management (the video text says “Access” Management but it is “Application” I’m referring to) different from Mobile Device Management?
  • How are Apps helping employees and why are they so important to the business?
  • What are some of the security considerations and challenges associated with mobile apps?
  • How important is end user experience and what are you doing to engage with end users?
  • What key tips would you offer other enterprisesbuilding apps for their business?

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Jun 25 2014

“Mobility First” – our move to the “third platform”

Jason

I attended an IDC conference recently entitled “Mobility First“, they have coined a term “Third Platform“. According to IDC we’ve had the first platform (the mainframe), we’re in the second (client/server/Internet technology) and next up is the third platform. They define the third platform as the next-generation IT software foundation comprising of Cloud Computing, Mobile, Big data and Social. Clearly in the consumer space we’re already on this third platform and use mobile, cloud and social in our daily lives. Big data is emerging but I think as a concept it’s still a little difficult to grasp and many confuse it with BI and data warehouses.

This all reminded me though of a few notes I’d made in OneNote a year or so ago for a blog post on the current transition in IT, though I hadn’t coined a nice snappy term to sum it up. What I had written were a couple of bullets to remind me:

  •  IT in the 90’s – the transition from control of mainframe to the chaos of client server
  • IT now and the transition from client server to consumerisation of IT in businesses

I also jotted down a quote that I saw on twitter that I was going to use:

I still think it’s cute when IT leadership tries to pretend that there is no change, & tries to run IT on cruise control using 90’s methods

Which was the same criticism laid at the door of IT directors when I first started in corporate IT as a placement student. Back then the issue was trying to run the new client/server model with the iron fist we did mainframes.

I also had an article on “shadow IT” that I’d saved and my point from this was that it also wasn’t anything new. Working for a utilities company in the mid-nineties we saw depts. create their own “mini IT depts.” as the central IT team struggled to keep up with the new technology and deliver them the solutions they wanted.

My point of the post was going to be how I thought there is the same criticism being levelled at legal IT now that there was at other corporate IT depts. twenty years ago, more agile consumer focussed companies leap ahead and look back at the corporate IT sector as luddites. But there are so many lessons from the move from the first to second platform (to pinch IDC’s term) that can be played forward to now. Look how we went full circle from the control we had on the mainframe through some uncontrolled chaos back to control again, the experience of this and how we could minimise the chaos can surely be reused?

I’m not buying the story that Legal IT depts. are luddites that won’t move, they will move towards the third platform I’m sure. The fact that I got a bit of criticism on my last couple of posts because some lawyers thought I was being too critical of lawyers and their ability to use/exploit the new technology shows there is an appetite for technology. I wasn’t intending to suggest lawyers were anti-technology, no my point in those posts was that this kind of technology shift will just develop the current business model and not revolutionise law firm business process. I actually think lawyers will embrace this third platform much faster than they did the second, I mean look how fast blackberry use (mobility) took off in your firm compared to say the use of the desktop CRM system!

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Mar 22 2014

LawTech Futures 2014 – one slot not to miss!

Jason

This years sold out LawTech Futures event kicks off this Tuesday (25th March 2014) with Sir Tim Berners-Lee as Keynote Speaker.

I’ll be back again doing an “Inspect-a-Gadget” slot again on the Lounge Stage at 13:40.

lawtechfutures2014

As with a lot of conferences the synopsis of your talk is submitted weeks in advance and the difficulty in getting this right for the mobile and app world is that its an area that moves so fast. The gist though of what I will talk about is covered in the bullets. But inevitably some things have changed a little, for example I won’t be mentioning the BlackBerry as there’s not much new to say unfortunately. So I thought I’d throw up a quick blog post to take a more detailed look at what I’ll be talking about on Tuesday.

  • A bit of future gazing into the technology that law firms of the future will be using
  • A look at the new technology there is available right now to underpin IT in law firms in the new mobile world
  • Office365, Azure, Windows 8, Office 2013
  • The challenges law firms face in the new app/mobile ecosystem
  • A look at some OneDrive/DropBox solutions available for law firms that integrate into current Legal IT software

It’s a lot to get through in 20 minutes but I am at the conference all day and would be happy to chat through what we’re doing in this space and particularly interested to hear what other law firms are doing. Message me on twitter @planty on the day.

Hope to see you at the Lounge stage at 1:40pm on Tuesday!

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Jan 28 2014

Smartphones in law firms – which way’s the wind blowing?

Jason

Back in September I finished a poll on my site that asked which platform people thought was going to become the leader in law firms. iOS topped that poll which was not surprising from a consumer perspective, but from a costs perspective it was rather surprising given the high device costs AND the higher tariff costs for non-consumer tariffs (particularly in the UK where 50%+ of the traffic for this site comes from).

So since then I’ve been running a poll asking a slightly more specific question, focussing much more on the costs aspect to see if the results matched.

Are you considering as a firm to remain with BlackBerry 7 to control your costs? 

The results were interesting, 20% indicated they were going to stick with BlackBerry 7 devices (either keeping the same handsets or upgrading to the latest/last BB7 device). Only 12% said they were going to go BlackBerry 10, this roughly tallied with the 16% in the previous “Which mobile platform do you think will become the leading platform in law firms?” poll.

Still though I was surprised that 68% said they would go with a different OS, meaning one of iOS, Android or Windows Phone.

I still struggle to grasp how in such a cost sensitive industry like Legal there can be a cost-benefit analysis that justifies iPhones for all, smartphones yes but high end smartphones? It’s an interesting landscape that is going to change dramatically in 2014 I’m sure, but I still think that Windows Phone has a big part to play here. I know of a few large international businesses (outside Legal) that have gone the MS way, will further integration into products like Systems Centre for management of mobiles make this easier for firms? Or will a more consumer own device with business providing SaaS (Software as a Service) facilities be the norm? Time will tell.

 

p.s. I’m running another poll at the moment looking at what people use for news (rss) feeds since the demise of Google Reader. Why not take a vote? It’s at the top right of the home page of my site.

 

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