By Neil Araujo, CEO, iManage.
Predictions for the coming revolution in the future of work abound, with many sources noting parallels between the 1920s and the 2020s. In 2021, Jeff Nicholson — thought leader in SaaS and enterprise software — said, in conversation with ZDNET: ‘Emerging from the massive 1918 to 1919 worldwide influenza pandemic, the world was launched into one of its greatest inflection points… and the next ‘20s’ promises to be just as transformational, if not more.’
I think we can all agree that the global pandemic forced us to embrace new ways of working — but beyond emerging from a pandemic and all that entails, another parallel between the two decades is making its mark on the future of work.
The technology explosion of the 1920s introduced mass production and extraordinary advances in medicine, electrification, telephone communications, radio, movies, automobiles, and aviation. In the 2020s, comparable technology advancements in terms of impact are already starting to surface, and cloud platforms are a pivotal player in that process.
According to Mark P. Mills, author of The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and a Roaring 2020s, as cited by BigThink: ‘The cloud democratizes technology as never before, connecting everyone and everything, allowing unprecedented gathering and splicing of information.” He adds that it brings together the three foundational spheres for technological revolution: “the means for gathering and propagating information, the means (machines) of production, and the class of materials available to do everything.’
Mills argues that doomsday predictions of mass unemployment are hyperbole – that, to the contrary, new efficiencies actually drive growth in the long term. Calling human time ‘the most precious commodity in the universe’, Mills says that new breakthroughs in health and science will result from big data, stored and analyzed in the cloud by AI algorithms via cloud supercomputing.
But the cloud itself is no longer the new frontier. In the new roaring 20s, it is mastery of the cloud that will prevail. Nicholson says that ‘Robotics, AI, low code tools, automation, and regulation are poised to fuel a sea change of transformation and innovation.’
What do we mean by ‘mastery of the cloud’?
While many tools are available to help us enhance our efficiency, these applications alone, even the cloud alone, guarantee neither transformational advancement nor technological revolution. The key to transformation — the most valuable ‘tool’ we have at our disposal — is our very human ability to rapidly adapt to change. This is the competency we want to develop, enrich, and reward as we move forward into 2023 and beyond.
Cloud-based technologies and tools can ensure that you and your team are productive, and your work is secure, no matter where you work. The technologies that you use to support your work can perform well and consistently from anywhere, reducing or eliminating your reliance on physical presence to have all parties on the same page when collaborating or learning.
The value of in-person interactions with colleagues and clients in a shared physical space is not in question; face-to-face interactions are particularly vital for developing relationships and a common culture. But greater access to cloud technologies have enabled us to create an environment where shared physical space is not a prerequisite for getting work done. This new model offers easy access to the vast resources within your firm in terms of knowledge, expertise, or prior experience, without the need to dig through files or to rely on ad hoc physical interactions to tap into those assets.
The real promise of the future of work, however, is not in the technology. It is in adapting current working practices to take advantage of what the technology offers — to develop more efficient workflows; to make better judgment calls when drafting or crafting a legal strategy informed by historical data; and to have better consistency and reasonable predictability in how legal work gets done.
The revolution is in expanding our expectations. Applying new technologies to old problems, certainly, but also in learning to imagine there is more, to stop putting limits on what our technologies can do for us, and to do more with them on the strength of that innovative thinking. It is only when we begin to see what is possible in the cloud that we can begin to approach anything like mastery.
Forging a path to the future with iManage
This kind of thinking is what iManage can’t get enough of. It motivated our partnership with Microsoft — as well as our investments in modern cloud computing, AI, and solving workflow challenges. These steps are forging a path to a future we can all embrace. Led by our drive to achieve mastery in the cloud, we never stop exploring ideas for new innovations that enhance productivity, client service, and security.
As the new year unfolds, significant advancements that enable knowledge workers to embrace the future of work are on track to become more sophisticated. These include:
- Seamless cloud-to-cloud integration of a DMS with Microsoft 365
- Automation of both simple and more complex processes
- Setting up and accessing curated best practice documents and process task lists
- New ways to standardise and templatise the steps for a matter
- Increasing findability of content in the DMS through data enrichment
Let’s look a little closer at these:
Integration of your DMS with Microsoft 365 in the cloud
Reducing friction for end users is key to improving the user experience, and that means a consistent experience from any device — including web browsers and mobile. Seamless access to capabilities like co-authoring are highly desirable in a DMS in the current and future legal work environment (and this access is available now in iManage Work 10 in the Cloud).
Automating simple and more complex processes
Firms can reduce administrative overhead, integrate disparate systems into a single workflow, and build custom workflows with Microsoft Power Automate — and with the Power Automate connector for iManage Cloud we see bringing to bear the exciting world of low code/no code technology. This can then be applied to reduce time spent on document-centric processes like routing, approvals, or forms-based content generation.
Setting up and accessing curated best practice documents and lists
Curating best practice documents and process checklists is standard practice at law firms, but setting up and accessing these document collections can be a heavy lift. Combining cloud technology with new applications promises the ability to accomplish this setup in the push of a button — creating practice-specific curated collections and out-of-the-box workflows to facilitate the coordination of documents and practice notes.
Standardising and templatising the task list
Managing task lists is a central way to coordinate work and keep the team and the client on the same page. New ways to standardise and templatise the task list enable firms to replicate standard practices for working a particular type of matter, which helps the entire matter team stay on the same page. Everyone knows what is due by when and who is responsible for the delivery at each step. A pivotal tool for task list management, iManage Tracker is your go-to in 2023.
Increasing findability of content in the DMS through data enrichment
Searching the DMS to find past work product for a particular type of matter can be a tedious task for junior lawyers. The challenge is to narrow the search to precisely the right precedent document for the legal solution that best fits the current context. Metadata enrichment using AI and third-party integrations with iManage can significantly promote content reuse at a document or clause level, saving time and freeing many resource hours.
Cloud innovations empower knowledge workers
Empowering the brilliant talent in law firms with the best tools has always been a goal for the technologists that serve this industry. Freeing knowledge workers from the mundane is what makes any positive future scenario possible — a vision of a future where jobs aren’t lost to new technology and automation, they grow to align better with worker capabilities and bring greater fulfillment.
At iManage, while we continue to provide the flexibility and convenience that workers desire, we also look beyond the day-to-day in pursuit of that next consequential innovation. We believe that the advancements promised by cloud mastery and the future of work, taken together with incremental productivity gains and efficiencies, deliver meaningful value in your firm’s increasing ability to provide more effective legal services, while achieving better outcomes.
In too many organizations, knowledge — the key to unlocking transformational opportunities — remains a valuable, untapped asset. Explore the knowledge opportunity in our updated Making Knowledge Work research report.
[ Artificial Lawyer is proud to bring you this sponsored thought leadership article by iManage. ]