David Espley, UK Technology Director at LexisNexis UK, offers his view on what 2016 holds for the legal sector from an IT perspective:
Against the backdrop of ever-increasing regulatory and compliance burden, law firms will embrace the cloud
Cloud technology has now reached a tipping point, a result of the significant investment that has gone into its development. This, alongside the recent Safe Harbour developments and new UK data centre announcements from Microsoft and Amazon, will spur law firms to embrace the cloud.
The technology offers serious and tangible business benefits. As law firms investigate the cloud, they will find that the concerns that they had – especially pertaining to security – will pale in comparison to the advantages that the technology offers. Already, cloud service providers employ some of the best minds in the industry and they are investing huge amount of resources into building secure offerings – more than any individual end user organisation can ever hope to match.
Law firms will actively harness big data for business insight
Big data will play an increasing role as legal services providers look to leverage predictive analytics to understand their organisations and the wider market landscape. Driving this trend will be software vendors embedding analytics functionality in their products as standard, recognition and understanding of the benefits of exploiting data and indeed dashboard-style, aggregations tools becoming cheaper, intuitive to use and easily integrated with firm-wide systems.
Mobile application adoption will increase
Technology providers are recognising the growing demand from enterprise for the ability to consume business services from any device, in any location. However, this mandate comes with an imperative need to ensure that these devices are entirely secure in terms of data and from cyberattack.
Vendors who tackle these issues head on and offer a compelling proposition will have a first mover advantage and will likely acquire a large section of the market. Expect to see firms actively demanding mobile applications for functionalities such as matter management and time recording from vendors. As a result, 2016 may well experience the first ‘Uber’ moment in the legal sector for an enterprise mobile application.
Software vendors will adopt ‘Continuous Development’
Similar to the approach that Microsoft has taken with Windows 10, which marks a shift away from the three to four year operating system upgrade to ongoing, incremental delivery of new functionality – vendors in the legal sector will begin to deploy ‘Continuous Development’ practices to the way they develop software.
The adoption of this software development methodology will benefit law firms, as it will minimise the downtime and business disruption that comes with traditional, cyclical upgrades. Many other organisations such as Apple and Facebook are already following this kind of agile software development practice.
A continuous development approach will in turn encourage software vendors to open up their systems to allow for easy integration with third party complementary solutions. Consequently, law firms will be able to tap into an ecosystem of technology offerings to create tailored solutions to meet their individual needs.