2019 Technology Trends
What's coming up in legaltech for the year ahead? - by Ben Harris, Jan 8, 2019
2019 is likely to be a challenging year for the legal sector particularly in the use of technology, with the big 4 accountancy firms expanding their legal service offerings and clients expecting more than ever from their lawyers. Firms who are able to make efficient and productive use of technology are in a better position to face these challenges in what is becoming an increasingly competitive market place. Clients and staff are now demanding that firms provide the tools to make their experience smoother and more efficient, whether that be portals for conveyancing, paperless communications or automated production of court bundles.
So where should law firms focus their efforts in 2019 to drive profitability and efficiencies? Here is our take on the key areas you can't afford to ignore this year...
Agile and remote working, millennials are already comfortable with the concept of being always connected and expect the same from their professional environment. Busy fee earners need to collaborate on documents while away from the office, accessing CRM data on the move, recording time while on a client site and even updating meeting notes in real time. With office space at such a premium and staff needing to be more flexible, agile and remote working allows firms to better manage valuable resources.
Collaborative technologies provide the foundation for effective agile and remote working, whether that is implementing o365 as a document collaboration platform or further moving forward with virtualised meeting spaces through Microsoft Teams or Cisco Webex. The essential factor is that all of these technologies need to be seen as an enabler for the business, driving efficiency and more importantly being reliable and resilient. Resilient systems are now even more critical as businesses become more dependent on them. As firms begin to appreciate the transition from IT commodity to business necessity these tools become essential.
Cloud technologies provide the opportunity to leverage economies of scale when compared against the traditional infrastructure estate; and cloud-first strategies are now embedded within most firms' technology strategy. Some of the hurdles that were in place are starting to be removed, constraints through licencing, vendor support and cloud sentiment are becoming issues of the past. The key thing is to get the right cloud journey for your firm, and the focus for 2019 will be on hybrid solutions which balance the risk appetite with the efficiencies and resilience that cloud can offer.
Big data and analytics are not new concepts but with a greater focus on collaboration and the corresponding drive for integration, firms now have the ability to realise the value of their data and turn this into true business intelligence. These concepts move you through the journey of knowing "how your business performed yesterday" with P&L reports, to "how it's performing now" with live dashboards, and "how the firm is likely to perform tomorrow" with demand forecasting and business projections. Powerful big data and analytics enabling firms to leverage a competitive advantage will be a cornerstone of 2019.
Cyber Security and Information Security were already in the spotlight for 2018, and throughout the year we have seen increased media coverage surrounding this. This trend will continue into 2019; and increase in the use of technology means that the number of vulnerabilities identified, alongside the activity associated with cybercrime presents an even greater risk to your business. In order to maintain this fine line between collaboration and the increased exposure to security incidents, your firm will need to be clear on its strategy and operational processes for cyber security.
No article about IT trends in legal would be complete without the inclusion of AI, and our thoughts are that AI is just out of reach for the majority of firms for 2019. While it shouldn't be ignored, moving forward with Collaboration, Agile Working, Cloud adoption, Big Data and Analytics with the wrapper of Information Security will provide the building blocks paving the way for the emergence of Artificial Intelligence. However very soon we will be talking about the automation of client engagement through the use of AI, accurate trend analysis and forecasting of case outcomes through AI, automated time recording based upon location or documents worked on, and many other exciting uses for this cutting edge technology.
So in summary 2019 is going to be a very busy year, ensuring your plans are aligned to your strategy and maintaining focus on your initiatives will be critical. Streamline can give you an independent view to ensure your technology is positioned to support the challenges of 2019, get in touch if you would like to find out more.