What does moving to the cloud and WFA (working from anywhere) mean for legal IT? I interviewed Mobile Technology expert, Leigh Bentley on the topic to learn more.
Leigh Bentley has spent over 20 years in the technical/ enterprise mobility space, including time spent at Samsung, IBM and BAA (British Airport Authority) as a mobility tech advocate.
During his time at IBM, Leigh collaborated with several large enterprises, including work to design and build Blackberry systems for two of the ‘big 4’ banks in Australia, as wells as designing and implementing mobility systems for BHP, the world’s largest mining company.
Today, Leigh is the technical lead for mobile device management at an International law firm. He is located in Sydney, Australia.
Q1. Are legal organisations technical laggards when it comes to moving to the Cloud?
Prior to my current role, I had spent some time working with legal firms, and I think the industry is acutely aware of information confidentiality and control of data. They are slow to be satisfied by large cloud service providers about the protection afforded to their data while it resides in the cloud. I think I would prefer to characterise the legal industry is one of the more cautious adopters of cloud solutions.
I’ve also worked with a number of Australia’s largest retail banks. They aren’t going to hurry into the cloud either. While they do recognise that there is a cost benefit to providing services out of the cloud, there are significant challenges associated with that.
One of the big banks I worked with while at IBM took on a large project to enable their staff with email. The managing director at the time felt that communication right across the business to every staff member was crucial and she wanted to enable this by rolling out email to all employees throughout the entire business, including those in their 1000+ branches.
It was a huge challenge for the IT team to support everyone in the company having an email address, so they took a hybrid approach by keeping people in head-office functions with their on-premise email solution, and rolling out a cloud service to the rest of the company. There weren’t as many concerns around the types of data that would be passed outside the head office, and there was an expectation that those people wouldn’t be communicating any sensitive customer information; it was purely for internal notices, and there were rules in place to prevent movement of sensitive data.
Aside from banking and legal, I also suspect government will be in the same boat for all the same reasons. IT people simply aren’t in a hurry to move to the cloud. There are often fewer IT people employed to manage the cloud because a lot of it can be outsourced to the cloud providers.
Businesses are sold on the benefits of moving to the cloud and all of the cost reductions, but I’ve seen organisations really consider it and then wait as there are also a lot of perceived risks that are then spelt out by IT teams. Moving to the cloud can sometimes be an interesting strategic conversation, that’s for sure.
Q2. Looking back, what are your thoughts or learnings around remote working challenges?
People were – and actually are – much better prepared to manage their IT than they realised. In the approach to working from home full-time, they may have thought there’s no way they can be expected to manage their own IT, connectivity and productivity – but when forced to do so during the first lockdown, it worked out pretty well, and people realised they had the power to do all the things they wanted to.
That includes large organisations with large workforces out in the field. I don’t think there’ll be an expectation of going into the office again for many companies, large or small. And when there is, it’ll be for an event or a collaborative meeting, or to visit partners and clients.
A lot of people find that there are fewer distractions at home than in an office. They know that when they can manage their technology, they can be more productive.Leigh Bentley, Mobility Lead, International Law Firm.
Q3. What does the future look like in terms of agility and productivity?
I’m personally planning to expand the mobile capabilities of the solution we’re currently building so that people have a lot more than just email on their phones.
Lawyers, for example, write a lot of letters but also have document management systems that they need to have access to. It’s much more convenient for these to be accessed through a mobile device than having to boot up a PC and get on the network – which could take 5-10 minutes each time.
When you’re travelling on public transport, you can simply pull out your tablet or phone and get your work done quickly. Travelling in the UK, you’re more likely to get on the train. In Australia there’s a more involved travel process to get from place to place, but there’s still as much time point-to-point to be more productive on a mobile device – and you can even get Wi-Fi on planes these days, so you’re always on.
Of course, cloud is a natural part of all of that. We have some cloud-based systems for document storage and management. There will always be a requirement for some of that to be on-premise, but some of it is in the cloud. For the users, though, it shouldn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter. As long as they know where to find the information they need, and how to access it, the faster they can be productive.
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