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Gaining a Competitive Edge with Content: How Firms are Extending and Collaborating

Dan AndersonToday’s leading law firms have many things in common, whether it is top talent, steady firm leadership, efficient business operations, or the access and ability to leverage cutting edge technology.  These top firms are increasingly recognizing the significant value associated with innovative approaches to client service that include integrated teams and their ability to offer broader and deeper technology solutions.  Firms staying on the cutting edge of technology are moving to more flexible, modern enterprise content management (ECM) platforms for example, and becoming more client-centric by leveraging third party collaboration solutions.

This shift allows firms to truly extend their expertise by securely sharing content with colleagues, partners, and clients.  The structure of this collaboration effort varies, as data is shared internally and externally, depending upon each unique use case. The bottom line: strategically leveraging existing content, which before was managed in silos, was unavailable for sharing and collaboration, and has presented an increasingly dire information governance challenge, is now not only a viable option but is quickly providing a distinct competitive edge. 

Optimizing Workflow with an Integrated Ecosystem

The innovative piece of this strategy is based on securely bundling the firms’ chosen business applications ecosystem with the ability to archive, synchronize, or publish content from one system to another, whether on-premise, in the cloud, or some hybrid configuration. Based on SeeUnity’s experience, leading firms like Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP, Neal, Gerber, & Eisenberg, Burness Paull LLP, and Husch Blackwell are already doing this now. 

However, there is definitely room for improvement.  According to the Association for Intelligent Information Management (AIIM), 78.6% of organizations do not have the ability to connect information from different systems, and 75.9% of organizations have difficulty finding the right information in a timely way.  

Benefits associated with integrating vital business systems include improved efficiency and productivity.  Certainly, the importance of evolving content management strategies to stay competitive and keep pace with industry demand is not new.  The motivation to change and modernize is evident.  For example, the 2017 ILTA Legal Technology Purchasing Survey states that over 50% of firms, large and small, predicted their firm’s adoption of cloud-based solutions would increase during 2018. Add to that Altman Weil’s latest MergerLine law firm M&A report, and the record transactions in 2018, and the motivation to not only move content but to share, synchronize and migrate in a collaborative manner becomes paramount.  

Legal IT Today #23

Security and Information Governance Challenges

Embracing this level of collaborative system integration naturally brings some security and Information Governance (IG) concerns.  File shares exist in every industry, not just the legal sector.  Secure integration solutions are a must, not an option. 

The ability to securely collaborate, whether it is internal and/or external, is quite powerful. Connected systems enable more control over content and help to maintain ethical walls.  Data from the DMS can be securely trimmed and shared externally.  Users can synchronize content between systems, or the process can take place on the back-end automatically.  There are many configuration possibilities focused on secure collaboration, while keeping the repository of record updated and supporting other IG initiatives.  

Content Collaboration Successes

Based on SeeUnity’s extensive exposure to firms’ content challenges, there are many positive outcomes worth noting: 

Access and Synchronization

  1. Mergers and Acquisitions: Development of solutions to securely merge legacy firm systems, allowing them to work together on mirror matters from their respective DMS.
  2. External sharing:  Automatically detect and sync, bi-directionally, content changes between leading DMS and collaboration systems, eliminating cumbersome and error-prone manual processes.
  3. Internal sharing: Bi-directionally sync content between intranet and DM systems with existing links maintained, enabling users to work in their system of choice, while improving workflow and maintaining information governance.


Content Migration 

Firms updating and modernizing their systems as part of a larger content strategy often also face a migration challenge.  Migrating content can be complicated at best, yet is one of the more critical (and rewarding) processes when it comes to a firm’s broader content management strategy. 

In summary, content management and collaboration can and should become every law firm’s ace in the hole. Current technology exists to enable firms to work in their chosen best-in-class applications, collaborate with outside partners and clients, and increase productivity.  Since our modern content problem will not go away, now is the time to take action and flip it from a necessary evil to a powerful advantage. 

Dan Anderson, CEO of SeeUnity, has 20+ years of experience selling enterprise software solutions within the enterprise content management and content integration markets.  Prior to co-founding SeeUnity, Dan was the Director of Business Development at WindFire Technology positioning the company as an early leader in the emerging enterprise content integration market.  Dan also served five years as a top performing National Account Manager for OpenText. 

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