The rapid pace of digitalisation means law firms are having to rethink their business processes and technology infrastructures to cope with new ways of working.
It’s a challenge that’s heightened by the pressing need to enhance efficiency and collaboration in a bid to elevate the client experience, win new business, and keep up with fast changing commercial expectations and demands.
As a result, IT leaders in law firms now face a raft of new strategic priorities that include:
- Shifting to more centralised and standardised technology infrastructures that deliver greater flexibility around client demands – such as e-billing
- Enabling the timely access to accurate and usable data in multiple systems
- Delivering information intelligence to support critical business and client decisions
- Embracing new innovations like subscription-based client services, smart contracts, blockchain, external client portals, eData rooms and mobile applications
But forging ahead with any of these activities depends on first addressing the major issue of silos and IT sprawl.
Dissolving the barriers that block transformation efforts
IT has been struggling with departmental data and application silos for many a year. A nightmare to manage and maintain, silos typically proliferate as applications and systems multiply.
The role of IT is to serve the needs of multiple departments and their users, who often choose to ‘do it their own way’ – irrespective of the IT constraints or risk to basic security practices – and opt for the tools or processes that address their specific needs.
The rise of this ‘shadow IT’ means individual departments may source their own tools and platforms, regardless of the fact that the rest of the firm has been standardised on a different set of corporate technologies.
From an IT perspective and a strategic standpoint, however, silos impede collaboration and make it difficult to provide a unified client experience.
Similarly, when it comes to improving business outcomes, silos represent a major obstacle for IT teams that need to ensure data is available universally as a company-wide resource – or enforce important policies like security and compliance.
Defining goals and desired outcomes
To overcome the silo problem, IT leaders in law firms need to gain consensus for consolidating technologies onto a common platform that reduces cost and increases productivity. With a clearly defined overall enterprise strategy in place, everyone can get on board with the same mission and goals.
Outsourcing the day-to-day operation and management of the IT infrastructure is one way IT leaders can free up the time and resources needed to tackle the software silo challenge. Leaving them free to initiate a more strategic IT approach that supports both collaborative data sharing and a higher level of communication with clients.
With the future of legal practice increasingly digital and automated, the pressure will be on to effectively tackle software silos in preparation for the next innovation wave. For example, implementing emerging technologies – like AI, big data and blockchain - that offer huge opportunities for efficiencies and real-time insights.
For law firms that want to stay ahead of the curve and disrupt before they’re disrupted, building the resilience needed to keep pace with rapid technology change may well prove a gamechanger.