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3E on time & on message at A&O

At an interview yesterday, Kim Massana – the senior V-P (Strategic Marketing & International) at Thomson Elite (more on that later) – told the Insider the company was fully aware of all the rumours being spread by its competitors about its 3E implementations but said its flagship implementation at Allen & Overy was on schedule and still set to go live in November this year. He added that A&O had opted for a 'big bang' simultaneous go-live on a multi-office, multi-currency implementation and that once this milestone had been achieved, it would be “discussion over” as regards to the rumours surrounding 3E.

Massana also reiterated the message that the Elite Enterprise product was not a legacy system waiting to be replaced by 3E and said the product was still “key to our company… had a long life ahead of it… and would continue to be enhanced” for many years to come. Massana added that the majority of the 70+ 3E sales to-date had come from new wins and not from Enterprise migrations.

In other Elite news…

Massana said the international business was becoming increasingly important to Elite, with India and mainland China potentially the hottest emerging markets. Massana also said the increased importance of international had led to a change of corporate strategy, with instead of new developments being released on the North American market and then customised for international, in future the international angle would be “embedded at the core of the business” so, for example, the needs of international customers would be taken into account from the earliest stages of product development. “Law is a global business,” said Massana, “and we need to ensure the product is global from the outset.”

Massana also hinted that following the merger of the Thomson and Reuters businesses earlier this year, the company was likely to see some rebranding to take greater advantage of the Reuters name, not least because in some international markets Reuters is a better known name than Thomson. He also added that along with these branding changes, there could also be a more substantive and creative leveraging of the Reuters expertise. Massana stressed that while much of this was still in the realms of early days internal debate and exploration, possibilities included expanding the multi-currency functionality of the Elite software to take advantage of Reuters experience with currency 'hedging' so law firms operating on a global basis could better protect themselves against exchange rate fluctuations.

14 replies on “3E on time & on message at A&O”

Hmm… I'm going to be Anonymous on this one … it's a little scathing…
Not decrying anything about 3E. A&O and Elite etc, but …
“The international business was becoming increasingly important to Elite”*
Kim Massana – Senior VP (Strategically in charge of stating the Bleeding Obvious to everyone who has half a brain)
… also hinted that following the merger of the Thomson and Reuters businesses earlier this year, the company was likely to see some rebranding …
Kim Massana – Senior VP (Strategically in charge of doing a New Logo)
Sorry Kim, but the 'VP' and 'Marketing' in the title just lost all credibility and then I fell asleep before I got to the final 19 letters of the job title …
To be honest, it sounds like the most interesting thing at the “interview” was the biscuits; I just hope the interview (though it sounds more like a 'sound bite' phone call) took place at Wragge & Co … No reason for using their name other they have than Damn Fine Biscuits! The Mars Bars cakes are so much better bites than these …

Face-to-face – not at Wragges but the Chateau d'If in Aldgate – and no biscuits either.

Which side requested the interview? Now that would be telling….

OK, so you have caught us all here on a bad day.
“Massana said the international business was becoming increasingly important to Elite”. Did he now. Nothing to do with the weakness of the US dollar right, or subsequently focusing on markets with stronger currencies?
And another thing – as all the Elite staff head to their “international” user group conference (yet again located in the US), and the US clients do the same (to pick up their branded backpacks and glow in the dark pens no doubt) those of us in the UK are left to scratch our heads at the comment “increased importance of international had led to a change of corporate strategy”.
When will this organisation (and other US based ones) finally realise that an “international” user group conference always located in the United States is not the way forward. We need real local representation in this area, and perhaps (if the US dollar would climb out of the gutter) the company could eventually get to the position where they had their annual “international” user group meeting in the UK, Europe or Asian region with US firms attending on different turf for a change.
It is nice here in Europe – we don't ask to take your photo or fingerprints at immigration, we could teach you how to pronounce aluminium, you would gain an understanding as to why we laugh at you when you tell us that “international” doesn't just refer to “Canada & Other”. But you would need a passport (see – for a definition of that strange term) and you would have to leave your guns at home.
On a recent call, a peer from a firm “down under” laughed at the “increased importance of international had led to a change of corporate strategy” comment after this year's conference was again (for three years running) announced as being held during dates which conflicted with the end of their financial year – way to get the “international” clients to your “international” user group!
It will be interesting to hear which firms from outside the US (“Canada & Other”) actually make it to next week's event, and which of these were not just comp tickets dished out by Thomson UK staff who came across them while cleaning out their desks.
Can't have a global community get together with “shared hosting nations”, at least do a better job of having regional events which are not just drinking sessions? Which countries participate in the “World Series” again?

My favourite is the concept of the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) zone. I once – true story – saw a US company's schedule for a series of sales presentations across EMEA. It really did read
Monday – Basingstoke
Tuesday – Helsinki
Wednesday – Cape Town
Thursday – Edinburgh
I think they got the Friday off.

This is normal Thomson spin, most of the 3E implementations to date have taken 12+ months and have been a resounding disaster. The software is fundamentally unstable and Thomson are so bogged down in changes in strategy and structure they have dropped the ball. Most of the clients that have signed did so based on a heavily discounted price and have yet to implement.

Come now. Calm down. It is only a time and billing application! As I heard one ex-employee of Thomson Elite recently state over drinks “the reason the US is pulling troops out of Iran and Afganistan is so that they can go on-site to Allen & Overy and get them live”. This is a response no doubt to the volume of resources being pushed into the firm simply in order to meet the deadline date promise made in this article by a Thomson manager (who will no doubt have moved to another senior international management position in a separate division of the group by then anyway, leaving the troops on the ground to actually take the heat). I'm sure everything will be fine. Three sites are already live three years after the product was released. Meow. At this rate we're looking at 2078 before those “70 firms sign with 3E” are all live. Oh this is all so much fun to watch – could not happen to a nicer bunch! No wonder Sycamore and Co. chose the vanishing act rather than staying to endure the water torture trick. Not waving…drowning…

Perhaps a few comments NOT from a jaded ex Elite employee may raise the intellectual content a few bars, and provide some informative (read factual) content here.

Fair comment – but we've not exactly been overwhelmed by fans of Elite singing the praises of the 3E experience.

A few, hopefully sensible, comments:
Elite, as a brand, remains a strong performer and it's Enterprise product is certainly well thought of in certain circles and there remains a loyalty to that particular product, as indeed there is to competitors offerings. However there is some truth to the rumour that Enterprise clients, particularly the smaller ones, have not taken well to the commercial and technical implications of the 'upgrade' to 3E and to some small degree this will still be an ongoing factor; one which will, however, not affect new business.
Elite remain strongly competitive when it comes to new sales; whilst there can be no doubt that the competition is making at least a little hay whilst 3E comes to the fore, things are not all going against Elite. They are highly regarded as a providor for global, multi-book, multi-currency systems and their experience with such implementations serves them well despite the fact that competitive systems also offer the same functionality in this regard (albeit more recently in some cases).
As a thought experiment however it would have been interesting to know how things would have performed in the market if Enterprise had still been offered as a product with as much fanfare as 3E.
A&O will almost certainly go live on or about November; there is too much market focus on the project for it to be seen to be anything less than a success. Because of the focus on this project I suspect Elite will emerge in 2009 with renewed vigour once it is behind them and they can say 'all is well, mockers move on'. This will of course mean that competition will no longer be able to leverage a perceived weakness and will have to rely on their own merits; something the sensible ones will have been doing all along.
With respect to the Thomson ownership; it's been a few years now and there can be little doubt that the resouces that have been made available have helped things in a rough transition period and will ensure that 3E will not be allowed to go away. However any such ownership change brings challenges and a degree of confusion and some people will move on; we have seen some people go quietly with grace (and/or golden handcuffs keeping them quiet) and some people who have been more jaded. Let's be honest, that's what happens when such changes happen, and anything posted anonymously needs a pinch of salt.
In short, for Thompson Elite, their momentum will carry them over what has been a slightly rocky patch and 2009 will allow a truer and more settled picture of the market to emerge.
It should be an interesting year as we will have the 2 historical main players (Thompson Elite and ADERANT) both competitive with truely functional, relatively new, product offerings though with very different approaches to both their technology (particularly the Microsoft stack) and existing client upgrade policy.
SAP will also be making bigger waves and who call tell what rocks LexisNexis will throw in the pond …
However I doubt there will be any great swings in anyones market fortunes due to the downturn and conservative nature of the business, and I suspect there will be quite a degree of discounting happening.
2009 will hopefully be a year in which the customer will hopefully be king.

Like it or not, we spell the word “aluminum” differently. Thus, the pronunciation.

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