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Enterprise collaboration news: April 2014 round-up


Maybe it was the excitement of spring or the sugar high from Easter, but for some reason April was a very busy month for enterprise collaboration news. Several articles and reports were released that took our interest, and we reviewed them in full on our blog. For summaries of these and of other articles we found of interest this month, please read on!

Legal IT

Legal IT featured heavily in our reading for April, with a couple of reports released this month that caught our eye. Raconteur published Legal Efficiency 2014 in The Times last month, a special report on legal technology and the productive law firm of tomorrow. The report covers several aspects of the legal sector, including the changing working practices in law firms, the increased reliance on technology to collaborate and maximise efficiencies, and concerns around security in cloud computing and mobile for law firms. This report reveals that on the whole, law firms are seeing a revolution in the way in which they communicate, collaborate and innovate thanks to cloud and mobile technologies. It goes to show that although law is seen as a typically traditional industry, the benefits of technology have not failed to reach it, and are enabling in-house law departments and law firms, large and small alike, to run more efficiently and productively. We reviewed the report in more detail on our blog.

Another of the topics covered in Legal Efficiency was The Law Society’s recently published practice note on the use of cloud computing in law firms. The guide highlights the risks associated with using cloud storage as an alternative to traditional IT provisions that law firms must be aware of before choosing to adopt cloud services. The guide explains that the primary risk for law firms using cloud storage is data protection and information security. The main reason for this is that the reliance on a third party cloud provider may increase the risk to sensitive information. As such, the guide outlines the importance of selecting a cloud provider that is correctly accredited so that the firm complies with the Data Protection Act. We reviewed the practice note in more detail on our blog.

Our own Ben Wightwick wrote a guest feature for The Time Blawg last month, where he discussed the past, present and future practice of law, Ben explains that law firms tend to lag behind when it comes to technology adoption, and in order to survive in the future enterprise landscape they must become more agile (this applies to both big and small firms). For this, Ben argues, firms need technology that is simple and scalable, and focuses on developing and enabling the human network of the firm. This, Ben asserts, will allow greater innovation and enable wider change, while a digitally proficient workforce, the right culture and an open approach to risk and innovation will drive new ways of working.

Future of work

The future of work features often in our round-ups, as collaboration is essential for improving the way people work. In his article, How to improve global workforce collaborationDion Hinchcliffe discusses the main challenge for large organisations today: creating a collaborative environment amongst disparate teams. The key to improving the way a global workforce collaborates, Dion states, is to connect collaborative processes directly to high-value outcomes that create significant business impact. In order to do this, Dion outlines a collaboration value chain to guarantee the success of collaborative efforts. The chain is made up of five elements: inputs (existing resources and structures, such as strategy, performance measures, culture and governance); tools (office productivity tools, systems and technologies); activities (methods of collaboration, such as social networking); output (direct results of collaboration, such as greater productivity and employee engagement), and impact (strategic benefits for the enterprise, such as greater innovation or faster market response). Dion concludes by stating that “workforces are the single biggest investment businesses have, and better collaboration is the key to unlocking the untapped value and innovation in them.”

In his article, The one success secret to social collaboration in the Future of Work  Simon Terry argues that though collaboration is marketed as the future of work, we are already working collaboratively without labelling it as such. “Instead,” Simon asserts, “it is seen as having a conversation, sending an email, persuading someone, getting advice, getting help, or working together on a task or project.” The future, here, is the tools that people use to do this. Social collaboration tools extend the opportunities for who can engage in this kind of collaboration and makes it easier, faster and better. However, Simon states, that social collaboration and new ways of working can only become effective if they are treated as simply working, rather than an addition to working practices.

Cloud security

Finally, cloud security was back in the news in April. Ben Kepes for Forbes writes about how Edward Snowden’s whistle blowing about NSA surveillance will impact cloud buying behaviour. We wrote about this topic last year when the Snowden story broke, explaining the options cloud buyers have to protect their data from surveillance. In his article, Ben explains that cloud vendors had initially predicted that confidence in US hosting would drop, and there would be a move en masse to non-US vendors. However, Ben notes, there does not yet seem to be a marked movement away from cloud hosting so far, instead an increase in awareness and due diligence when selecting a vendor. In spite of this, Ben cites a survey that indicates cloud-buyer opinions have in fact been swayed in light of the Snowden leaks. Ultimately, Ben argues, the solution is not merely hosting outside of the US, but also providing the adequate encryption and security (as outlined in our blog post).

Crytozone published a revealing report into SharePoint use which indicated that 36% of SharePoint users are breaching security policies. In a detailed analysis of the report, CMSWire argues that the survey doesn’t suggest problems with SharePoint’s security measures, but instead points to poor management by IT and information resources due to a lack of understanding of the technicalities of SharePoint’s permissioning and security features. Rather than implementing complexed technical controls and permissioning to prevent confidential information being stored in SharePoint, many are relying on written policies of simply not using SharePoint for storing any confidential data.

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