A la David Letterman, here is my own Top 10 2012 Technology Trends and a few concerns:
10. Collaboration: Firms have jumped on the collaboration bandwagon using tools such as Microsoft SharePoint to collaborate both on a firm and client-facing basis. This collaboration enables firms to stay on top of things such as productivity, etc. In the 2010 ILTA Purchasing Survey, 49% of respondents utilize SharePoint internally for collaboration, while 24% use it as a collaboration tool for client and other external communications.
Concerns: Not a lot; perhaps just a continued slow roll-out time and the challenge of keeping the information up to date.
9. Social Networking Increased: With the increased use of social networking, decision making has become easier both for firms and clients. Almost all companies are socially networking one way or another and it gives firms more exposure overall.
Concerns: This increase has made people and companies more vulnerable. Larger firms want to make sure to control their message; social networking can do just the opposite. We just aren’t sure if attorneys twittering all day are really productive.
8. Technology Creating Technology: Smart technologies are spurring on a new slew of technology that tie in to existing technology to speed up processes. Many organizations are making the creative process to develop this technology more scientific by recording the process.
Concerns: Technology was developed to make lives easier. Sometimes the learning curve and implementation can create more work with a higher degree of complexity.
7. 360 Degree Security (Accountability): With all of the information flying in and out of organizations, firms are becoming increasingly cognizant of the integrity of their information and how it is being protected, especially within the cloud. A 360-degree security plan is granular in nature and includes doing a lot of small things to ensure the maximum security.
6. Workflow to Save Clients Money: Workflow applications are a sure bet to improve internal efficiencies and productivity. Firms are looking for ways to reduce their internal costs that then allows them to potentially pass these savings along to clients. This may not mean rate reductions, but possibly lower increases.
Concerns: Nothing really. Process improvement is smart business.
5. Green: Going green is in and it will stay in for good reason. Technological advances such as paperless billing and workflow routing are saving countless resources.
Concerns: Going Green is getting a little tired, it’s a process, not a single event..
4. Video Conferencing: This has become a must-have in every larger, multi- office firm. It enables people to engage and communicate on a higher level. Video conferencing encourages collaboration as both firm associates and clients can increasingly meet face-to-face while saving on cost and going green.
Concerns: Video conferencing can be somewhat easier to implement than it was just a few years ago. Firms with VOIP phone systems may be more prone to also implement video conferencing.
3. Blackberry out iPhone are in: The use of Blackberry’s in law firms is rapidly dropping as attorneys are quickly moving to iPhone and Android devices.
Concerns: IT must support these devices whether they like to or not.
2. Cloudiness: Firms further embraced cloud computing and saved on maintenance and expense both in hardware and in time. The law firms have not embraced cloud computing, in general at the “enterprise” level such as time and billing. However, all other applications have started the move to the cloud.
Concerns: Can I really get my data back if I switch vendors, in what format? These are becoming major issues as firms move from cloud to cloud.
1. Mobile Apps: Savvy firms are already rolling out mobile apps for iPads, and Android tablets (in some cases). These apps allow attorneys to enter time, inquire on contacts, documents and overall client information.
Concerns: IT needs to quickly get on board with how to handle mobile apps, provide security and support users. This is only going to expand exponentially over the next few years.