Hub - Cloud

By Nick Martin - 4th August 2021

Microsoft 365 is Shaking up the Legal Tech Industry

We are all familiar with the use of M365 for both mail, office and, of course, Teams. There are many products within the M365 family, and this is only set to increase as Microsoft releases new versions or products, such as Cloud PC.

Microsoft are continuing to develop solutions for professional services firms, such as Project Cortex – a suite of new AI tools that shorten employee workflows, deepen company-wide knowledge sharing, and improve automation capabilities. This is designed to analyse content created across the M365 platform, with the goal being an on-demand ‘knowledge network’ across the firm, which is organised and updated automatically in connection with common themes and topics. This, of course, puts Microsoft in competition with “traditional” legal tech firms.

Every firm is thinking about increasing profits, managing headcount, and giving people the support to spend time on the real value – advising and guiding clients. There is no question that technology is the key to enabling these things. Like with all technology, you need an understanding of the product functionality, roadmap, and of the best approach to implement and gain maximum value.

In terms of the technology choices, many law firms are now on the M365 journey, partly driven by the Microsoft roadmap but also by the growing areas of functionality with the M365 portfolio.

So, why is M365 so ‘centre stage’ for many law firms?

  • Microsoft’s development in the cloud is now challenging existing legal application providers. For example, Microsoft Teams’ document sharing function is not significantly different to many of the top virtual data room platforms.
  • Cloud-based Teams Voice is now being seriously considered by many law firms as a replacement for traditional telephony systems, which brings a chance for further cost savings and a closer integration with existing productivity tools.
  • M365 will become the home of Windows 365, also known as “Cloud PC”. Microsoft are bringing their operating system to the cloud, providing businesses with greater flexibility and a secure way to empower their workforce to be more productive and connected.
  • As with most application providers, cloud and SaaS is the direction of travel – and Microsoft is no exception.

Many of the products within the M365 landscape are quite different in functionality and use case, so it is recommended that you have a plan and a go/no-go process for each element (as you are paying for them anyway!). You can group the products into different categories, such as the below:

Business productivity such as Stream, Teams Voice and Power Automate

Technical enablement such as Intune and advanced analytics

By creating a clear outline of each set of products, some can be easily ruled out early on, whereas others may need a deeper dive to compare functionality and overall cost of ownership, including training and implementation costs.

Build a plan for the next two years, think about where these products can fit in and identify potential product champions to take initiatives forward. Work on closer definition of user needs and build some proof of concepts or MVPs to bring feedback – where possible, your legal technologists, business development, tech-literate fee earners and similar can really help crystallise the need and support the planned outcome.

With M365, you really can enhance business productivity, take time out of processes, and build a higher performing and more secure user experience – and even more importantly you are probably paying for these products now as part of your licensing!

The most crucial part of your M365 adoption journey is fully understanding your firm’s business requirements. One vital element of this process is the exploration of existing technology – what works, what doesn’t and where the gaps are, all of which we can assist on. Contact us today.

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