Without a doubt our most commented on feature in the January Legal IT Insider, here Daniel Pollick, chief information officer and director of business infrastructure at DLA Piper, Colin Smith, director of information technology at Pinsent Masons and Andrew Powell, director of IT at Nabarro (soon to take up the role of head of IT at Macfarlanes) highlight their key strategic priorities and wider market trends for 2016/17. 

Daniel Pollick

1.Completing our move to Microsoft Lync/ Skype for Business, including the end of the desk phone for most people. We are about 60-75% through this programme, and it has had a massive effect on collaboration and productivity.

2.Our cyber security programme. Obvious.

3.Our ‘mobile first’ strategy, including the move to (mostly) IOS smartphones across all of our business, and the delivery of high value apps for our end users.

 Colin Smith

1.Moving away from on-premise core infrastructure by migrating towards an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model via the increased use of external data centres and co-location resources. That will provide the business with greater resilience, flexibility and agility, allowing me to examine the way we can best make strategic use of our internal IT workforce.

2.The next phases of our mobility programme to enable our digital workplace strategy: to harness technology, human capital and consumer trends for better business outcomes. We recognise the move to a digital business model is inevitable, the way people want to work and how they collaborate with their colleagues and clients is changing.

3.We need to focus on improving our business intelligence and analytics platforms:  the way we extract information from our various document information silos. We need to improve the quality and accessibility of the financial information and modelling we make available to our users.

Andrew Powell (on wider market trends):

1.Legal process management / AI / automation

A few things have come together to bring this to people’s attention. There is, I think, a desire to focus on matter profitability and with that comes a good hard stare at the cost base and the way in which work is produced. Is repeatable, similar work being carried out in a bespoke way each time? Is that work being produced consistently across a department? These tools – and mindset – have the potential to address risk and consistency issues whilst removing cost from a transaction – it is hardly surprising there is increasing interest.

2.Hybrid cloud / responsive infrastructure

There is a definite move away from the cap ex spikes of building and running your own datacentre in a city centre office block. There are numerous benefits in hosting business critical services in appropriate surroundings; potentially more still (scalability, responsiveness, uptime, cost) in moving to a hybrid cloud model, though that will depend on the risk approach of both the firm and its clients.

3.Mobility / agile working

Getting the matter file off paper and into electronic form, together with improved information security awareness, has enabled access from outside the office. At the same time, developments in consumer technology have created new devices and a user base that actively seeks out technology at home and increasingly complains that office tech is lagging behind. The ability to work on a transaction from the office, the client’s office, home, hotel, aircraft – and not just checking emails, but actually running the transaction: drafting documents, running comparisons, joining video conferences, recording time and so on – does two things. It makes you more responsive to your client; but it also opens up a whole new method of agile working that will have an impact on future workplace design and work life balance.