Web Favourites Jan 29 2010

This post is part of a weekly/bi-weekly roundup of things that I read and found interesting. There won’t be a lot of comment from me, but hopefully you will find the links useful. Enjoy!

Interesting stuff I came across this week:

Tesco Law V Brand Solicitor – “Law firms need to be thinking about the outward facing solution because when I read legal technology sites they seem to go on about internal use. The future is "social" and what that means is turning your websites to point at clients so they can engage and transact with you.”

Consumerization of IT Executive Briefing – “”Designed for enterprise executives, this fully scripted presentation introduces Microsoft’s vision for how organizations can reap the benefits of the consumerization of IT”

Stop Trying To Be Better Than the Competition – “Creating your own special way to treat customers, creating an experience that’s unique, or creating a totally new and frictionless way for people to get a result is how you stand out from the pack, it’s how you create a difference that can’t be easily copied, and it’s how innovation comes to small business. Instead of spending your precious R&D time on product features, spend it on creating branded intellectual property, a distinct way of marketing, or on developing people and culture inside your organization that enables you to be seen as different”

Office 2010 System Requirements

Minimum CPU and  RAM requirements are unchanged from Office 2007, but the footprint of most Office applications have gotten larger. Most standalone application disk-space requirements have gone up by 0.5 GB and the suites have increased by 1.0 or 1.5 GB.

So in short, if your PC can run Office 2007, it will be able to run Office 2010. If you just acquired a brand new PC, it also will be able to run the forthcoming suite. But if you’re using Office 2003, there are no guarantees you’ll automatically be able to run Office 2010 on the same hardware.

The 32-bit version of Office 2010 will run on the following 32-bit operating systems: XP with Service Pack (SP)3, Vista SP1, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2003 R2 (with MS XML). The 64-bit version will run on on 64-bit versions of all of these same operating systems, with the exception of Windows Server 2003 R2.

via Mary Jo Foley

How UK Lawyers Are Using Social Media

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If you are a UK lawyer looking to grow your practice through social media then one of the best things you can do is learn from those trailblazers that have gone before you and successfully used social media in their law firms.

This article is a transcript of a web conference on the topic of social media for law firms hosted by Adrian Dayton (@adriandayton) with the UK’s two most prolific legal Twitter users, Brian Inkster (@brianinkster) and Chris Sherliker (@London_Law_Firm). Also on the call was social media marketer Rory Webber (@MrRX).

These are our notes. Enjoy…

Making Connections… Building Relationships

Chris: Twitter is a process in which you engage… It’s about building relationships… We have found clients from Twitter including a major client who then went on to became a supplier… They then also referred us to a large telecoms client

Adrian: It’s a giant cocktail party, and it requires you to step into the circle to engage

Brian: We haven’t received any direct client work, but I have been interviewed by the press several times as a result of being on Twitter, including today… Was interviewed by The Metro on topic of social media and property. This of course can raise the profile of the law firm, and it’s not impossible that tomorrow we could get enquiries after people read the Metro article

Adrian: Twitter is about instant real-time conversation… You can join any conversation internationally and make international connections

Chris: Our firm is active in the USA, but not Turkey, and through Twitter we have met @turkish_lawyer, got to know him, and as a consequence have referred work to him and received referrals from him

Adrian: This is the death of the cold call… There’s no reason to make them any more… You can build relationships first

Making Time for Twitter

Brian: It is called social media. I tend to do it in the evening or first thing in morning.

Chris: It fit it into my normal routine… 95% of tweets are from my iPhone… e.g. while waiting for taxi. It makes use of moments where I wouldn’t be able to do much else

What About ROI?

Chris: I think of Twitter as a way of finding people to provide services to, and people to provide services to me… It’s a very time efficient way to sell. We have benefited from that, but equally have met people who have since provided professional development services to our firm, and people who are building our blogs

Brian: Taking the relationship outside of Twitter is what really brings the benefits… But don’t forget it’s fun… It’s social media.. . It’s fun for me… If business comes out of it, great, but that’s not the key priority

Chris: When people talk ROI, one of the things they should also remember is that Twitter is completely free. And that effectively I have had something like 7,000 free adverts. The only investment you have to make is time and you don’t have to spend ages in Twitter

Adrian: I find it useful to organise meetings through Twitter ahead of conferences… So I have a jump start on other people attending

Getting the Mix Right

Adrian: Twitter is a great way to meet other fascinating people… But the perception in the US is that UK lawyers are more serious…

Brian: Not a huge number of UK lawyers using Twitter yet, and between those on the call, we probably know all of them. Firm accounts don’t work in the same way as personal ones, and you really need individuals or groups of individuals to make the interaction work on Twitter

Chris: I send out a mix of tweets from serious legal matters to how to make the perfect cocktail… and that seems to work well for me

Brian: We originally started with a company Twitter account, but switched to personal account… Going back to the cocktail party analogy, I realised you need to be a person to go to a cocktail party

Adrian: No one wants to hire a law firm; they want to hire a person they like

Getting Started

Chris: When you first register, it asks you the question what are you doing right now? I quickly realised no-one wants to know. People are more interested in getting to know people. There is a marketing adage that people only buy from people the know, like and trust. Otherwise they are not going to instruct you.

Rory:  People need to get connected then listen and learn. In the modern age listening is reading, and speaking is writing… When you first join you should spend more time listening than speaking… When I first joined Twitter i spent first couple of weeks ‘listening’ before joining the conversation

Chris: It takes a while to convince others to use social media. When I first started everyone thought I was mad. Now we have four partners using Twitter in the company

Adrian: It’s important to find right champions in your firm. Companies often leave it to juniors, and this isn’t always the right thing to do. Chris is using the tools better than many younger professionals… You need more experienced attorneys that add value… It’s about growing relationships and then taking them to the next level such as lunch or coffee

What Does the Future Hold?

Chris: With the upcoming Legal Services Act, and hence non-lawyers and institutions coming in, lawyers will need to use these tools to get work from elsewhere… It takes a while to build up followers so they had better get moving

Rory: Agreed. Growing competition means that people need to get involved

 

Footnote

These are our notes from the call, and focus on the things that grabbed our attention. Leave a comment below if there is something important you feel we missed.

And finally, Adrian has promised to make a recording available for on-demand playback for anyone that want to listen to the whole call.  Keep checking his website for that.

Legal IT Show 2010 – We’ll Be There!

Legal IT Show 2010 - Be There We’re confirmed! We’ll be attending the Legal IT Show 2010 in February and we’d love to talk SharePoint with you.

Are you implementing SharePoint today? Thinking of holding off, or upgrading to SharePoint 2010? We’d love to hear what your thoughts or issues are. And in return we’d be happy to share our experiences of working with SharePoint in some of the largest companies in the UK.

No pressure. No sales.

Market research for us. Tips, tricks, insider knowledge for you.

Sounds like a fair trade? Email us at info@connectegrity.com or if you prefer tweet us: @lindacheunguk or @markbower and we’ll arrange a convenient time.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Web Favourites Jan 18 2010

This post is part of a weekly/bi-weekly roundup of things that I read and found interesting. There won’t be a lot of comment from me, but hopefully you will find the links useful. Enjoy!

Interesting stuff I came across this week:

SharePoint for Legal Project Management–A Retrospective – “To help you understand the power of SharePoint, I thought I would share what I was able to start doing with it within a week of it having it set-up…”

Case Study: Alternative Fees – “We are at the tipping point when it comes to the billable hour, and one law firm leading the way into the future is Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP…It studied what clients stated in writing what they wanted, gave it to them, and generated lots of new business.”

Get Connected or Get Out of the Kitchen – “I’ll make a prediction here that I’ll review this time in 2011. There will emerge two types of solicitors firms by the end of the year: those that have fully adopted IT systems for service delivery and those that have not.”

How We Beat the Snow and Kept on Working

£1bn of productivity lost to bad weatherThis morning saw another couple of inches of snow dumped on us here in North Hampshire and an accident shut the main route into Reading.

According to The Times the cost to the economy in lost productivity is set to reach £2bn.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Simple low cost technology and modern working practices make it easy for employees of professional service companies to work from anywhere.

Here’s how we beat the snow and kept working as normal last week:

  • Staff get laptops, not desktop PCs as standard enabling them to work from home, client site… anywhere
  • Email accounts are accessible via browser, Blackberry, iPhone and of course Outlook from your laptop
  • Project documents are stored centrally in SharePoint and accessible anywhere you have an Internet connection
  • IM worked as a replacement for those ad-hoc office conversations: “Hey, can you remember where the expenses form is…?”
  • Meetings became web conferences complete with video and document sharing

It used to be that only the biggest FTSE-100 companies could afford this type of technology, but Cloud Computing now means that the cost has fallen drastically and it is now no longer about how big you are, but how agile you are.

Maybe the weather is a blessing and maybe, just maybe, things could be about to change

Cloud Computing Explained

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What is Cloud Computing?

Put simply, Cloud Computing means that your computing resources live outside of your computer or physical premises.

What’s All the Fuss About?

Cloud computing is the key driver behind a new emerging economy based on lower costs and higher productivity than before: an economy holding great potential for smaller, agile businesses. The promise of the Cloud is that it enables all sizes of companies to benefit from the economies of scale that until now only large corporations could afford.

What is the Cloud?

The idea may seem strange at first, but the chances are that you are already using the Cloud if you use an online web editor for your website; host your website with a hosting company, or use a web analytics package to measure web hits. Even if you don’t have a website, the simplest forms of Cloud computing already give you remote access to your email, files, photos, online calendar, and instant messaging (IM).

Access to Data

The Cloud makes a lot of sense for those of us who can’t afford or don’t need our own server, but it can go further than that. For example, web conferencing and IM applications store your contacts and details online and can be accessed from any computer running the client software, or often with just a web browser. Email can managed from your PC, your phone or a web browser – any time, anywhere.

Applications in the Cloud

Stepping beyond basic data storage, cloud applications enable business systems such as finance and accounting packages, CRM or HR systems to run externally too. These kind of cloud applications together are called Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, and are typically accessed via a web browser.

The Upside

With your business applications hosted remotely, there are real cost and efficiency benefits.

  • No capital outlay on software or hardware
  • Predictable annual running costs
  • You have the peace of mind that your data is protected and backed up by a service that will not be affected by anything happening to you physical premises
  • Time and labour saving automatic upgrades that don’t need to be downloaded or paid for outside of the software subscription
  • The ability to grow and scale your IT systems easily as your business grows
  • And perhaps most important of all, you get to focus on what you do best: running your business, not running an IT operation

And the Downside

The potential risk of keeping company data externally is security. Most service providers take this risk very seriously and use highly-encrypted communications and storage systems – it’s worth checking when shopping for providers.

Consider too the financial risk: This is a young market with lots of new service providers competing for a share of the market. If your provider runs into financial problems, your service may be compromised. Check to see what protection you have in that situation.

There is also the imperative to be connected to the web when using SaaS applications – not always possible for the mobile worker or anyone who experiences broadband downtime for any reason.

How We Can Help

At Connectegrity we have partnered with Microsoft, one of the most stable and financially secure companies in the world,  to ensure the strictest security and resilience of all of our Cloud Computing offerings. All of our services include:

  • Built-in antivirus and spam filtering
  • Highly secure data access for users via HTTPS
  • Geo-redundant data centre architecture
  • 99.9% scheduled uptime backed by a financial guarantee

And, unlike some other vendors, we believe that the combination of Software plus Services (S+S) provides the best balance of benefits and risks. Unlike SaaS, you get the best of both worlds. Your data lives in the cloud, but smart client applications enable you to continue to work when disconnected, then automatically synchronise with the Cloud when you are next online. You don’t need to do anything at all!

(p.s. The image at the top of this post links to a great 3 minute video from Common Craft explaining Cloud Computing “in plain English”. It’s a great one to share around your company if you are trying to socialise the Cloud Computing concept).

Web Favourites Jan 10 2010

Frozen Britain Jan 2010 This is the first of what I hope will be a weekly or bi-weekly roundup of things that I read and found interesting. There won’t be a lot of comment from me, but hopefully you will find the links useful. Enjoy!

(The picture here is from NASA’s Terra satellite last week and show the extent of the snow and icy conditions on frozen Britain.)

Interesting stuff I came across this week:

A Case for Operating in the Cloud – “Microsoft’s ‘cloud’ enabled me to survive this downturn, will help me thrive in the upturn”. One law firm explain how they cut costs and moved to Exchange Online and SharePoint Online with Microsoft BPOS.

10 Things SharePoint can do for Your Law Firm – How to use SharePoint to “improve attorney effectiveness, deliver better client service and reduce costs”.

Why Some People Are Reluctant to Share – Rajesh Shetty explains the knowledge capture problem of KM tools: When something becomes obvious people tend to stop sharing.

Social Knowledge Management

In their post on tacit knowledge management yesterday, 3 Geeks and a Law blog ask whether 2010 will be the year that Knowledge Management (KM) thrives or dies.

In its current state, KM has turned into a mechanism that attempts to capture explicit knowledge in a way that is seamless to the person creating that knowledge. The results turn out to be databases filled with retrievable information presented as contributed knowledge from someone within the firm. So, we end up with CRM databases, document management systems, research capturing tools and expertise databases. All of which are simply ways that KM has attempted to capture the explicit knowledge of those within the firm as it written down in order to be retrieved at a later time by others in the firm. Unfortunately, this has become the classical KM routine, and the resulting product turns out to be a rarely used resource because the data is either ‘dirty’, obsolete or irrelevant to the current needs of those within the firm.

The Geeks are right. KM as we know it is dead. And the sooner we all realise that, the better.

The key problem of traditional KM tools is a human one: When something becomes obvious, people tend to stop sharing. It becomes implanted in their subconscious as background thinking and they cease to write it down. Rajesh Setty explains this phenomenon beautifully in Why are some people reluctant to share?

What is needed instead are simple tools that connect people to people and their knowledge. And they are not always technology tools…

In my 7 years at Microsoft plenty of KM initiatives came and went but nothing was anywhere near as successful these simple social business tools:

  1. Searchable discussion forums – by far the most important mechanism for sharing knowledge. Why? Because it is based on need. People ask questions, and they get a response, as and when they need it. (Too many KM system entries are based on what experts think people need, or what they think is good for them)
  2. People Search - the ability to search for people based on their area of expertise, see where they sit in your social graph, and get an introduction.
  3. Instant Messaging - to be able to ask questions of experts in time critical situations. You should aim to create a flat organisation. Create a culture where staff are empowered to ask questions of experts and where experts are rewarded for sharing knowledge.
  4. A buddying system for new hires to coach them on the company culture and processes – all the stuff that isn’t in the training manual.
  5. A mentoring programme for all staff to help people build connections both up and across the business.

Blogs and Wikis also had a place too, but to a lesser extent. Blogs were good for keeping up to date with news from various parts of the company. Wikis useful when a group were collaborating to solve a problem or document a process for the first time.

Finally, in 2008 a prototype twitter-like service called TownSquare was introduced which was incredibly was useful for keeping up to date on what your network was working on. This will see the light of day in SharePoint 2010 later this year.

So there you have it… my take on knowledge management and the use of social tools to capture and share knowledge. 

What tools and techniques have you found most useful for sharing knowledge across your organisation?