Last week, I attended the annual International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference in Nashville, TN. This year, the hot topic was Consumerization of Information Technology — largely driven by the current love affair underway between attorneys and the iPad.
It was striking to see an the agenda and discussion so heavily influenced by the encroaching devices — including a killer app downloadable from the iTune store to manage the event agenda and announcements. Most interesting were the best practices shared During the Revolution: Indsutry Leaders Discuss Law2020 Hot Topics by Foley&Lardner and Berwin Leighton Paisner.
As you may expect, when it comes to the adoption of technology, law firms are a cautious bunch. The number one objective of the law firm IT department is to secure and protect the firm’s crown jewels — documents and email. So when something new approaches, there are usually rounds and rounds of discussion, primarily regarding security, compliance, manageability, etc. before legal technology adoption finally takes off.
This is not the case for the iPad; attorney love affair for the devices simply will not allow firms to take a wait and see attitude — much the way Blackberry impacted the industry a decade and a half ago.
Today, firms seem to be taking three approaches to the iPad
- Treat your iPad like an oversized Blackberry; use if for email only; lock down your email with security infrastructure such as Good for iOS
- Virtualize everything and run it on the iPad; it sounds great from a manageability and security standpoint but remains impractical; watching applications load will make you want to hurl your iPad across the room at the IT administrator;
- Wait and see with a blind eye — wait for new products offering improved manageability and security; pretend attorneys are not using iPads today and / or disgruntled that they are not connected to enterprise infrastructure
For law firms, this is the beginning of a journey to accomodate consumer experiences for practitioners.
- Communicate — chat, presence, easier video conferencing, blogs and tweeting may follow
- Connect — Proliferation of the devices hitting the corporate network requiring improved manageability; the problem will grow exponentially as will devices; software providers such as Odyssey Software and Microsoft Systems Center 2012 announce remote manageability support for iOS along with other platforms
- Consume — while the devices are thin, light and wonderful to touch, much of the charm comes from the easy inclusion of customization via apps; how easy it may be in the future to provide customization and updates to legal practitioners via apps; already Apple has announced it’s business apps store while Microsoft has released it’s OneNote product on the iTune store.
- More chat, Skype, YouTube and Facebook like experiences within the firm
- More software to manage access and control of information from remote devices
- More apps released and more focus on apps development within firms and with software providers