Fresh from navigating the crossroads in legal technology the last two days, today 3 features of better legal tech:
1. Software-as-Service: Offering technology on-demand, in the browser, isn’t just a philosophy. It’s also a discipline. It doesn’t need to be installed, it’s easily updated, and the security issues of data “in the cloud” are largely behind us. You don’t develop this way to bypass the IT departments. But you could. It almost erases the software/hardware dichotomy. The fit is for customer/user, not client/server. Because you have to make it easy to use, you limit or avoid costly training. Companies like Apple make intuitive applications wrapped around awesome products. They have raised the bar for everyone else. No one, not even the IT department, RTFMs anymore.
2. People-as-Product: If customers need help as part of your solution, it should be easy to get, not hard to buy. This is where the trend to unbundle may not be a good one. Customers should be able to add on a higher level of service at a clear price, and drop it when they don’t need it. The era of stuffing huge service obligations down the throats of all tech customers is waning, unless your initials are LE. Getting the customer to know your people is the ultimate differentiator. Don’t hide behind an email form for customer service. Help desk calls beat focus groups any day of the week.
3. Return-as-Obvious: A clear, quick and strong ROI is mandatory. It shouldn’t depend upon a lot of hypothetical use cases or major contingent assumptions. For a given tech application, a compelling return may not be sufficient, but it is necessary. My tech sales friends tell me even when the ROI is 10x in 5 months, some customers still want to study it for 2 years. Their marketing VPs respond with two words “sell better;” or even one “quota.” If legal tech was easy, everyone would do it.
You’d think these would be self-evident, but the word on the street from the lawyer-customer is that they aren’t.
Tomorrow; where BigLaw figures in all of this. Friday, the rise of the Virtual (Legal) Machines.
Until then, Yay Cloud:
(Free pub for MSFT. Maybe they need it…)