Sometimes, as a heavy duty user of cloud tools and a vocal advocate of same, I take for granted that others have the same awareness of and comfort level with them as I do. Not necessarily so, it appears. Less than a year ago, Citrix published a study that revealed that most people were a bit confused about the topic. Their blog post reporting on the study posted a few somewhat humorous highlights, such as:
95% of those who think they’re not using the cloud, actually are
3 in 5 (59%) believe the “workplace of the future” will exist entirely in the cloud
40% believe accessing work information at home in their “birthday suit” would be an advantage
More than 1/3 agree that the cloud allows them to share information with people they’d rather not be interacting with in person
After being provided with the definition of the cloud, 68% recognized its economic benefits
14% have pretended to know what the cloud is during a job interview
So, how do lawyers measure up against the more general population of cloudless masses? The ABA conducts a Legal Tech survey every year, the actual results of which I admittedly don’t read because the multi-volume set is a bit pricier than I would like to fork over. So I tend to depend on the reviews and reports by those more in the legal tech know than I, such as bloggers Bob Ambrogi and Nikki Black. I encourage you to hit the links to get more details on the results of the latest survey. But I can summarize for you that attorneys’ use of the cloud has grown significantly over the past year, with the larger percentage of respondents assigning the greatest importance to time and billing and case management applications. Interestingly, though, the top four most used applications by lawyers are not legal-specific apps but are consumer apps – Dropbox, Google Docs, iCloud and Evernote, in that order. As it appears, lawyers are ahead of the curve on cloud awareness and adoption. Yay, us.
But maybe you need a bit more information and guidance on the cloud and what it means to you as a lawyer. Well, I have the goods for you. Or, rather, MyCase – a cloud-based case management software company – has them, in the form of a nice slideshow. Check it out and be informed!
Just in time for ILTA, the fine folks at Workshare are introducing a new version 8 that adds some great features to an already rich set, with lawyers firmly in mind. If you aren’t familiar with Workshare, it’s a business-oriented solution for document collaboration and comparison. Workshare touts its metadata cleaning tools, a must for legal professionals. Workshare operates within existing enterprise tools, such as the Microsoft suite, Adobe products and doc management systems like Sharepoint. It is designed to facilitate file sharing and document review and revision by multiple editors, with great features for tracking changes and quickly revising documents.
Workshare is strictly a Microsoft Windows tool – sorry Mac users. The new version includes a very attractive new component – secure file transfer. It comes as part of the package when you purchase Workshare Pro, as compared to their standalone products Protect, Compare and Point, and their enterprise social network product Social. The secure file transfer feature allows high level encryption of documents even when they leave the enterprise for the wild world beyond the wall. Along with the robust comparison and metadata cleaning tools, Workshare 8 sounds like it solves a lot of legal headaches. Because the encryption is handled from the enterprise and follows the docs as they travel to other devices running the Workshare application, firms have far greater control over security than they would if they had to rely on the encryption in consumer grade tools on those remote devices. Workshare works on the web, on the desktop and on mobile tablets and smartphones. Workshare does require Windows 7 or 8 and Microsoft Office 2007 or later. Reviewers of the product who have actually used Workshare (I haven’t) comment on how easy it is to install and use.
I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to speak with Matt Brown and Ali Moinuddin on the day of the product announcement this past Monday. They explained a bit about the company and its 13 year history focused in this market sector. They are in 98% of the AmLaw Top 250 firms. They advised me that they have over 18,000 customers, with approximately 1.8 million users. That’s a decent sized community, no doubt.
They talked about how seamlessly the product integrates into existing systems – metadata is removed behind the scenes when docs are converted to PDF or attached to email and protection is maintained even when outside the corporate network, as long as the Workshare application is employed on the remote devices. The new version also boasts some improved technology in the metadata cleaning piece – the process is much faster now so that users aren’t hindered by their email systems getting clogged by the process. Individual users or IT professionals can set permission levels and these permissions follow all the way to mobile devices.
Another nice new add involved their OCR technology – for image-based documents and scans, the new product will be able to analyze and compare scanned docs. Now THAT is a pretty cool trick. The new version supports PDF-A, an image protocol required by many courts.
While it doesn’t yet work with the Google Apps suite, they advise that they are looking into that integration. Workshare does currently support over 700 file formats.
I do usually feature the free and cheap here in Advocate’s Studio, but I also am interested in the cost-effective. Workshare Professional 8 starts at $175/user/year and includes an annual subscription to Workshare Business Edition for Secure File Sharing, with available volume discounts. Workshare Business Edition starts at $75/user/year and include a 50Gb data allowance. There is an upgrade options available to Workshare Enterprise Edition from $75/user/year, which include unlimited data storage options for Enterprise. It sounds like a lot of money, but when you consider what Workshare will handle and replace, like your Adobe PDF manipulation software, your document management tool, your metadata cleaning tool, and your secure file transfer application, that’s a whole lot of functionality for the price. Encryption and security are necessary in the legal profession and many online collaboration and file sharing tools, particularly consumer grade tools, don’t even scratch the security surface necessary to comply with the laws regarding client privacy. Workshare 8 clearly is hoping to offer the type of security that helps you sleep at night.
Check out their promo video for Workshare 8 below. And thanks Matt and Ali for taking the time to talk about your product with me.