Agility, cloud, security and ‘IT as a service’ are top tech issues for firms in 2016
Last week we released a set of predictions for 2016 from our customers and those of our colleagues at Zylpha.
In this post, Converge TS’s Technical Director, Andrew Taylor shares his predictions for the year ahead.
2016 could mark the beginning of the end for traditional IT servers as firms seeking agility move to hosted desktops and shell laptops (also known as thin clients) to meet client demand and combat cybercrime.
I also expect agility, cloud, security and ‘IT as a service’ will be the top issues affecting law firm technology in 2016 with each interlinking and impacting firms’ profitability and operations.
The need for greater agility is being driven by client demand: Clients expect to access legal advice around the clock, but firms need the right technology in place to meet this demand. The traditional IT server set up doesn’t enable the agility and flexibility needed to do this. Add to this the number of operating systems, such as MS2003 and XP, having reached the end of their lives in the past 18 months and it’s clear that with some major IT investment decisions to be made, 2016 could mark the beginning of the end for traditional IT and mark the year that more firms decide to move to the cloud.
Taking security as another major issue for law firms, there have been a number of high profile cybercrimes in 2015 that have highlighted the need for firms to ensure that client data is safe and protected.
TalkTalk, MumsNet and Ashley Madison were all victims of high-profile cybercrime in 2015, demonstrating that any business is at risk from cybercrime. Law firms hold a huge amount of client data in and they are obliged by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority to protect this. As the SRA continues to flag various scams, firms must tighten up security because failure to do so can result in fines.
In 2016, firms will need to:
- run regular ethical hacking tests and act on the gaps identified to ensure their systems are as secure as possible;
- prioritise staff training on phishing attempts and email scams.
- limit the number of staff authorised to access the firm’s account, putting checks in place to confirm the identity of payments to combat fraud, as many scams now focus on fraudulently accessing bank accounts.
- ensure that staff double check all emails purporting to come from known sources, particularly when they are financial or data driven.
Firms moving to agile working will also need to seek out the best security for client data protection: Many IT directors see the benefits of moving to hosted desktops: it reduces the data protection issues associated with losing laptops as data is stored on the cloud and not on the physical laptop that staff carry with them; it enables fee-earners to work from anywhere and at any time taking away the downtime in their day and optimising their chargeable time; and it’s more effective as a service because you pay per user so you can scale services up or down in line with business needs.
There’ll also be a growing trend towards an ‘IT as a service’ model. With the challenges of ageing legacy systems outlined above, 2016 could also signal a change in the future IT team. Many firms now outsource their IT support. At the same time, IT specialists are moving to contract roles to keep their skills up to date and relevant. Firms will need to adapt to this change and ‘paying per user’ could become a more cost effective way of running IT. It will become an operational cost rather than a capital expenditure and become something that can be scaled up or down in line with business strategy and objectives.
I see 2016 as being a year of increasing numbers of firms moving to the cloud. The benefits are clear, with the key one that it provides firms with the agility that puts them ahead of their competition. For firms thinking about making the move, it’s essential that they work with a provider to find the best approach for them and their firm. It makes for a more efficient process and way of operating.
If you'd like to read 2016 predictions from our customers Click Here.