Tomorrow's tech pros by Nick Hayne, Pulsant

This article was originally featured as a column in the April issue of LPM. To read the issue in full, download LPM.

There’s been a lot of change in IT over the past few years, driven by the emergence of new technologies like cloud that make businesses more efficient and effective. This change affects IT managers and managers responsible for IT who need to understand these new solutions and applications and how they benefit the business.

IT used to be seen merely as a business function – a necessary expense – but as the technology landscape has shifted, the role of IT has changed. IT is now more encompassing, more supportive, and is seen as an enabler of both growth and innovation.

But alongside this change in attitude is the realisation that in-house teams don’t necessarily have the resources and skills needed to offer strategic insight – which is why the role of the IT supplier has changed as well. A supplier is no longer just a supplier, but offers both consultancy and solutions that help businesses on a much more strategic level.

I’ve seen this evolution first-hand – it’s the nature of our business and an acknowledged industry attitude. In the legal sector, where cloud adoption is gaining momentum (albeit a little slower than, say, retail) IT managers are moving out of the traditional role of ‘keeping the lights on’ and playing a more strategic role in the business.

This is especially relevant looking at transformation initiatives as a whole. From implementing programs, systems and applications to updating infrastructures, digital transformation is becoming an increasingly important goal for law firms. This shift will help build competitive advantage, streamline business processes and increase transparency and efficiency.

IT managers and CIOs are leading this charge towards digitisation, but they may not have the knowledge or time to explore new technologies, migration strategies and implementation. In addition to the constraints involved with transformation and regulation, the adoption of individual technologies can present its own set of challenges.

Look at cloud computing as an example. While the technology offers multiple benefits – organisational agility, cost-effectiveness and flexibility – there are still concerns around security, data privacy and availability. Furthermore, there are several cloud models available (public, private and hybrid) and decisions need to be made about which data, systems and applications should be moved to the cloud and which to keep in-house.

It’s in these decisions that the evolution of the service provider becomes most apparent. With a deep understanding of the landscape and industry, as well as the technologies themselves, the new breed of service provider is well positioned to understand its customers’ requirements, business goals and proposed technology roadmap – matching technologies to fit into that environment.

There’s little doubt that to remain competitive and successful, law firms need to adapt to the changing landscape. The degree of transformation or digitisation will ultimately depend on the business itself, its current IT estate and wider strategic objectives. While there’s no recipe or formula for creating the perfect transformation initiative, the role of both IT and strategic service providers should always be considered.

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