Email is Dead… erm, well actually, no it’s not

Google Wave LogoToday the Internet mourns the passing of Google Wave. The latest in a long line of products to be hailed as the email killer.

Whatever your problem with email, get over it. Email is here to stay. Here’s why: Email today is a commoditised, free service for most users. To get people to shift from email you have to give them something 9x better. And even then don’t expect email truly to die. TV did not kill radio. In fact today there are more radio stations than there have ever been. Home video did not kill cinema. Instead, better access to content drove a renaissance in movie going.

The reality is that email is going nowhere and instead of trying to find alternatives we would all be better focussing on better ways to integrate it with new collaboration technologies.

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.

Cloud Computing to Top IT Spending in 2010

Gartner has published it’s annual prediction of the Top 10 strategic IT investment areas. They are:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Advanced analytics
  3. Client computing
  4. IT for green
  5. Reshaping the data center
  6. Social computing
  7. Security
  8. Flash memory
  9. Virtualization
  10. Mobile applications

Of those, cloud computing, social computing and analytics are core to the Connectegrity vision and strategy for professional service firms.

Here’s what Gartner goes on to say about why they are strategic investment areas in 2010.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a style of computing that characterizes a model in which providers deliver a variety of IT-enabled capabilities to consumers. Cloud-based services can be exploited in a variety of ways to develop an application or a solution. Using cloud resources does not eliminate the costs of IT solutions, but does re-arrange some and reduce others. In addition, consuming cloud services enterprises will increasingly act as cloud providers and deliver application, information or business process services to customers and business partners.

Advanced Analytics

Optimization and simulation is using analytical tools and models to maximize business process and decision effectiveness by examining alternative outcomes and scenarios, before, during and after process implementation and execution. This can be viewed as a third step in supporting operational business decisions. Fixed rules and prepared policies gave way to more informed decisions powered by the right information delivered at the right time, whether through customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) or other applications. The new step is to provide simulation, prediction, optimization and other analytics, not simply information, to empower even more decision flexibility at the time and place of every business process action. The new step looks into the future, predicting what can or will happen.

Social Computing

Workers do not want two distinct environments to support their work – one for their own work products (whether personal or group) and another for accessing “external” information. Enterprises must focus both on use of social software and social media in the enterprise and participation and integration with externally facing enterprise-sponsored and public communities. Do not ignore the role of the social profile to bring communities together.