Why clients, staff and IT love Unified Communications

Monday, 23 March 2015

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Many law firm clients are emerging from the downturn with different expectations of the professional services they rely on, particularly legal. Financial pressures are forcing clients and firms alike to review the way they combine technology, people and processes, to "do more with less". Those law firms that successfully evolve their business models and delivery systems will be best positioned for growth.

Earlier this year, Legal Support Network (LSN) published a report entitled "Legal IT Landscapes 2015", based on research conducted among the most senior IT decision-makers in the UK’s top 100 law firms. The report findings make for very interesting reading. Behind the scenes, competitive pressure and the recession have reset the IT ambitions in the legal sector, with the report underlining the fact that firms must combine their people and processes with new technologies to successfully evolve their business models.

It also confirms that an increasing number of firms are becoming more distributed and decentralised, with the mobility of workforces becoming incredibly important to tomorrow’s legal businesses in driving competitiveness and efficiency.

However, the bottom line is that staff tend not to be particularly interested in the technology they use, identified in our Legal White Paper, though they are very interested in how it can make their lives more flexible and easier. LSN’s report reinforces the need for employers to listen to increasing employee demand for more flexible working practices, if they are to attract, recruit and retain the best talent – fundamentally changing the “how” and “where” work is done.

But employee mobility is so much more than just handing out iPads and other smart devices. It requires robust technologies to help make interactions with clients more personal, responsiveness and billable, while empowering staff to work productively, irrespective of location, working practices, time zones and existing systems.

And this is exactly what Unified Communication (UC) delivers. With the report also identifying that UC can revolutionise how law firms work and 76% of respondents confirming that they are currently considering a UC pilot, why is UC seen as a game-changer?

UC extends a telephone system to include mobile devices, making Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) a genuine option. Seamless roaming enables staff to stay connected from any location around the world on any network—voice over Wi-Fi, voice over 3G/4G, or cellular – thus improving working agility and productivity.

UC also offers tools to aid collaboration between employees and clients, making interactions more personal, responsive and useful. Teams can share documents and spreadsheets with a single click, using their devices of choice. Instant messaging, voice chat, video chat, screen sharing and file transfer are also part of the collaboration toolkit, making working together and with clients efficient, effective and more productive.

UC makes the lives of IT management so much easier. Executing moves and changes (MACs) is intuitive and quick, while ease of use guarantees faster end-user adoption and buy-in. Many UC platforms are based on open standards and will integrate with a wide range of back-office systems, including ERP, CRM and case management applications for a 360-degree view of the customer.

IT departments will also be very happy to hear that UC is flexible and offers modular scalability to grow with the organisation thus reducing "growing pains". ShoreTel's UC platform offers incredible reliability, especially when layered on the IP network with no single point of failure, delivering enhanced disaster recovery via a distributed platform. Ultimately, this results in 99.999 per cent availability for enterprise-class performance.

For those holding the purse-strings, switching to UC tends to cost less than keeping an existing system, and many firms find that it pays for itself within a year. Read our free Nemertes White Paper and learn more about how UC lowers overall organisation costs.

In addition, some UC solutions are available as a premise-based or cloud solution, giving the flexibility to account for it either as operating expenditure or as a capital investment.

Law firms must view technology as an enabler that delivers real benefits for all stakeholders in the business. What is clear is that UC will not only help meet your staff's productivity goals and therefore your clients, but also the budget owners. So what’s not to love?

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Read the Ison Harrison Success Story, watch the case study video and learn more about our solutions for law firms.

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