Legal IT Insider speaks to iManage’s CEO Neil Araujo and Jeff Saper, global director of enterprise architecture & delivery services at Shearman & Sterling, about what a global strategic partnership between iManage and Microsoft means to end users.
In a move that is already being welcomed by customers including Shearman & Sterling, iManage has entered a global strategic partnership with Microsoft that will see it work more closely with the tech giant’s product team, meaning deeper product integration and advance visibility of Microsoft’s roadmap.
iManage in June 2021 formally announced its adoption of Microsoft Azure as the global platform for the iManage cloud, and attained Microsoft ‘co-sell ready’ status in the Microsoft partner program. The new strategic partnership unveiled today (23 February) will enable it to take that relationship significantly further. Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Jeff Saper, global director of enterprise architecture and delivery services at Shearman & Sterling (who was previously an executive level business strategy and technology consultant at Microsoft) said: “Having been part of Microsoft, I understand how the different products align. If you are deep and good partners with Microsoft and you have access to the products group, you can align your roadmap with Microsoft’s roadmap.
“For iManage to be partnering with Microsoft and helping their legal industry and other clients is important because it means they have access to the product group, who can help with the roadmap better than previously and it means a deeper integration with the product.”
Shearman announced in August 2020 that it had gone live in the iManage cloud, becoming an early adopter. Saper said: “When we decided we were going to move a lot of our work product to cloud, we said 1) we will deploy without compromise and become more agile and 2) our compliance and security policy will be greater than our most strictly regulated clients, which often time are in the finance sector. That’s our measuring stick. The advantage of going with Microsoft and iManage is that Microsoft has deeply ingrained their compliance strategy around the finance sector.
“The fact that iManage is using the Microsoft cloud is important in our minds because Microsoft has worked with financial organisations and has built a strategy over the past few years, and many of the large banks have adopted that strategy and are moving ahead with it. The fact that iManage is also going to work with Microsoft is important. How do you manage encryption? How do you manage client data so that no matter where it is the data is meeting a very strict process? We wouldn’t be able to do cloud if it didn’t meet these strict criteria.”
iManage says that having embraced Azure, it is now in a position to leverage the billions that Microsoft is spending on infrastructure, connectivity and platform services and to bring it to life in the context of professional services use cases.
iManage’s CEO Neil Araujo told Legal IT insider: “Our partnership with Microsoft will manifest itself for the end user in four tangible ways. Firstly, speaking from an infrastructure point of view, the performance and resilience for the DMS workload is unmatched. So, for example, if you have a team in New York and in London, you have performance as if all the team was local, because of the investment that Microsoft has made and how we have built the application on top of that. On the infrastructure side we also have the ability to have data residency in a whole variety of geos where Azure is present.
“Secondly is what we’re doing with Office and Teams. Microsoft has the concept of modern work and it’s particularly relevant in a hybrid working environment, which is where I believe the world is going anyway. The ability to work seamlessly across something like iManage, which provides the governance, and Office for the productivity tools makes it infinitely simpler for the end user. An example is co-authoring, where you can go into iManage and start co-authoring the document and you don’t have to take it out of iManage and bring it back – it’s all very seamless as a result of the integration with Office. None of it would be possible without the level of partnering we have with Microsoft.
“Thirdly, is where Microsoft has made a significant investment in security and what we have done there to improve the overall security profile for our customers.
“Finally, what’s less tangible but has a significant impact is that it’s one thing to move your workflow to the cloud, and when that happens you want it to be modern and secure. But then the question is ‘what can I do that I couldn’t do before?’ The ability to innovate for us and our customers because of Microsoft’s resources is going to be the more interesting bit.”
In a statement out today, iManage says that it will leverage Microsoft Azure services to deliver new functionality and new ways to fully manage global projects, surface organizational expertise, and coordinate knowledge work among distributed teams.
It adds that combining Azure native cloud security with iManage’ s capabilities in policy-based security will give customers further reassurance that their data is secure. Protection extends to content in Microsoft products like Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of cloud services within the legal sector but Araujo observes that the next wave of innovations will widen the gap between firms that are on premises and those in the cloud. He said: “For a long time you could replicate what firms are doing in the cloud on premises, but now it’s not possible. You’re going to see a big gap emerge between what is possible on premises and between cloud to cloud.”
For those that have questioned whether iManage increasingly competes with Microsoft, which looks more viable than ever for legal content management, Araujo says: “On the surface there are things that we do that seem like they overlap but the practical reality is no. The alignment makes that significantly clearer than ever before.”
“This is a significant partnership that should deliver real value and confidence to our firm and our clients as we continue our own digital transformation,” commented Lawrence Baxter, chief technology officer at Shearman and Sterling LLP in a statement out today, adding: “It’s not just the operational benefits that excite me, the impact this will have on our users, delivering a seamless modern work experience, with the utmost security, is game changing.”