Predictions 2006: An MD Predicts

January 1, 2006

This will be the fourth year that I have been providing my annual ‘future of legal IT’ predictions and having checked back I can report that I don’t have the best track record as a technological Mystic Meg! That may be why I’m not an avid gambler. In fairness I don’t think I have been far wrong, it’s just that there have not really been any major innovations that one could have put in a prediction. The legal IT world is one of continuous evolution but with very little radical or rapid development and that’s probably a good thing.

I’ve predicted the rise of ASP and Managed Service Provision which, whilst not having taken off, is still “slowly” making headway.

I predicted the move from complex best of breed to single source ERP-style legal applications but whilst I continue to read about the frustrations being experienced with integration issues the best of breed solution is still being punted as the only way forward. Interestingly the commercial world went through this stage in the 90s and the rise of ERP solutions was the result.

I predicted the move to browser thin client solutions and everything .Net but Microsoft and others are heavily promoting rich (the new word for thick) client solutions. They will have their reasons, no doubt.

I predicted that WiFi would replace wire in legal practices but it would appear to be easier to get a wireless connection in McDonalds and Starbucks than it is at one’s desk.

Did I get it so wrong? It still makes sense to me and there’s clearly some logic in my predictions. Was it Bill Gates that said that we are not very good at predicting the next 12 months in IT but much better at the next five years? Perhaps if I’m patient I will see my predictions coming true.

So with that in mind here are my predictions for 2006 (or maybe sometime before 2011) – just don’t hold me to them!

The keys issues I hear being debated currently are information storage and retrieval (document management plus knowledge management plus matter management plus archiving), producing and enforcing procedures (Lexcel, ISO, Internal and for client service level agreements) and data interchange (with clients, courts, other firms, Inland Revenue, Land Registry etc etc).

While logic should dictate that these will the areas for key developments in 2006, I have to confess that now – not surprisingly – I have rather a healthy scepticism about logical predictions. So I will go completely off the wall and predict that the use of clever and amusing blogs (web logs) will become a major weapon in law firm marketing by the end of 2006.

On a more realistic note maybe, just maybe, this could be the year that interoperability really comes to mean something.  With the planned implementation of HIPs coinciding with the long awaited take off of the PISCES standard, plus the equally long awaited SDLT system, we could at last be seeing computer systems talking to each other using common data interchange standards.

Now that would be something!!