We had an interesting discussion with Barrie Hadfield, the newly appointed CTO, and Daniel Von Weihe* of the recently merged Workshare + SkyDox business earlier this week**.

Barrie Hadfield said the initial market reaction to the news of the merger had been “great” and the newly combined company was already embarked on its new business propositions. Hadfield said “product quality and innovation will be key features… and we will be focussing on our customers, not our competitors.” He added that the company would be looking at both extending the concept policy – so it now also encompassed the exchange of data, whereas in most law firms it only applied to email. And to “the mobilization of the application”, adding that “the bigger story is delivering functionality to the iPad and iPhone”.

In terms of implementing this strategy, Workshare plans to release new products and upgrades every two months over the next six months. The first element will be changes to Workshare Protect so that instead of electronically transferring documents, users will send a link to that document. “It’s a first step into the cloud,” said Hadfield.

The second step will be a mobile version of the application, complete with desktop synchronization. The first platform to be supported will be Apple iOS for the iPhone and iPad, followed by Android. If there is sufficient demand (or in the case of Blackberry if it is still around) this will be followed by versions for Windows Mobile and Blackberry. Finally, scheduled for Q1 next year, there will be a platform release pulling all these elements together and supporting the various different ways law firms may want to deploy the application, including in the public cloud, in a private cloud and behind a firewall.

“We are not going to be reinventing the wheel but we want to try to make things work better,” said Hadfield. “We’ll still be doing the same stuff but we’ll be doing it in different ways. More easily, frictionless and in collaborative environments.”

* Daniel Von Weihe, who was with SkyDox but is probably still better known in the UK as the face of the Interaction CRM system before it vanished into the LexisNexis maw, has an interesting role with the new Workshare business as Vice President of User Experience & Software Design. His brief is to understand the goals and tasks of users to ensure that future versions of Workshare applications better reflect this and so give a users a better experience. “We want to make the software more intuitive,” said Daniel, “so less training and less manuals are required. We are looking at a more Web 2.0 approach that better mirrors the way people work, whether in teams, in collaboration with clients, or on multiple mobile devices in different locations. We have clearly hit a nerve here as CIOs are lining up for our beta program.”

** Yes, we know this story is 48 hours late but we’ve had 48 hour flu – OK!