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Upgrading technology in the legal sector - are software suppliers to blame for slow adoption?

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Law firms are often seen as ‘laggards’ in terms of adopting the latest technology, be it new versions of operating systems or the latest version of Microsoft Office. But I would argue that it’s often the approach taken to software development by suppliers that affects the rate of adoption by law firms.

The challenge for law firms

Law firms are often cited as slow adopters of technology but I believe this over simplifies the argument. In fact, many lawyers and support staff leverage it much more than in similar industries.

Consider the prevalence of time recording solutions in use by law firms today. The usage patterns of these solutions, due to the ‘six minute’ charging interval, leads to higher expectations on system performance. It also heightens the risk of disruption during periods of change or when integrations fail.

Another key consideration is the usage of the Microsoft Office platform across the firm.   Lawyers and support staff rely on it to manage and produce documents while operational teams use the tools for efficient business management. With such high levels of usage, compatibility with each version of Microsoft Office is a must for vendor solutions.

Many firms struggle to adopt the latest technology just because one of their many vendors is not providing support for the latest versions of Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows.

The challenge for software vendors

So a big challenge for any independent software vendor is to maintain compliance with the latest platforms. In recent years this has expanded beyond support for the latest version of Microsoft Windows.  It now needs to include database platforms, cross browser support, virtualisation technologies, third party applications and more.

This represents a major challenge to the development budgets of independent software vendors. Our own estimates range from 40% to 70% of in-house development budgets (depending on the product) spent on certifying the latest platforms. That’s budget which is then not available to spend on developing new features.

A different approach

This is why we decided to take a different approach with our Nimbus product. Nimbus is the code name for our ground breaking new Business Management System powered by the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 platform.

There are clear benefits from our adoption of the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 platform as the foundation offering for our legal clients.

Microsoft has already made significant investments to ensure the platform is compatible with the latest versions of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Lync and Microsoft SharePoint. It means our internal experts can focus a significantly higher percentage of our development spend on improving the user experience and adding new capabilities that help law firms adapt to the rapidly changing demands of their clients.

And our clients can be confident that the investments they make today will allow timely upgrades to the latest platforms from Microsoft. Or have the choice of which supporting infrastructure they want to use to run their business by utilising cross browser support for Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.

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