Crossing Things Off Your To-Do List and Staying In Control While Mobile

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Now that we understand why it is so difficult to be productive while mobile, in this third post we turn to a potential solution to this frustrating problem.

For several years now, enterprise software has been designed and built to run inside the corporate firewall, accessible from any web browser inside the company network. This made things so much easier – easier for IT to manage and deploy a single installation rather than software on every desktop, easier for a user to be able to use a company desktop, later a company laptop, and now a personal laptop or computer from home.

Those same systems that are so much more connected and convenient than software on our desktops are preventing our mobile devices from being more useful. Mobile devices can’t easily connect to portals and file repositories behind the corporate firewall. The result is that all those systems must be redesigned to work for mobile. So, how can I access the information that I need to cross things off my to-do list when I am mobile?

Redesigning existing systems is costly, complicated and is not feasible for most IT organizations. Fortunately, there is a better way to expose internal systems to mobile devices with a lot less work and effort. Two technologies, when combined, yield the desired functionality without complete rewrites. The first is secure containerization and the second is HTML5.

Secure containers have been in use for several years and are a natural evolution of MDM (Mobile Device Management). MDM enabled IT to lock down an entire device, monitor its location at all times, and even wipe all contents remotely – including any personal apps, pictures, and videos. A secure container enables IT to control just the corporate data on a mobile device, including the ability to wipe and to set policies on its use, without sacrificing personal privacy. This is good for security and is the first part of the solution. However, to be really useful, the container must also provide access to the suite of applications needed to complete the everyday game of Tetris that is our to-do list.

Enter HTML5 – the technology that is already powering many web based portals behind the firewall. With an HTML5 container, accessing internal resources – whether they are documents in a DMS, a corporate intra-net portal, SharePoint, or other web-based technologies becomes much easier.

An HTML5 container is a native app that provides core functionality like offline access and push-notifications. Enterprise web apps run securely inside the container. Very little rewriting is needed, HTML5 is more portable and future proof than native code implementations for mobile. Most IT teams have a good understanding of HTML5 and are able to write apps using it quickly and easily. Many existing apps that run on the corporate intranet run inside an HTML5 container unchanged. In addition, existing legacy systems like Exchange 2003 and SharePoint 2003 have well documented web-based APIs to access them, making it easy for new web apps to be written on top of legacy systems for mobile use.

The world has gone mobile. Now it’s time for corporate systems to catch up. Let me access my files from my mobile phone without sacrificing security. Let me grab a document from DMS and email it to a client over lunch. Let me quickly take an internal attachment, rename it, and send it to an external client while enjoying a cup of coffee. Enable me to get valuable tasks done whenever I have time instead of later when I’m at the office. Let me get more small inter-dependent tasks done on the go – much like I can quickly turn, twist, and move shapes in Tetris. Then I can get more rows cleared from my to-do list and have more time and more patience for my kids.

Thank you for reading. Please comment below and tell us what you think. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Ilya

The Legal Mobility Disconnect

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Some interesting and thought provoking data on legal use of Mobile Technology from the ABA Techreport 2014¹, highlighting a significant “Legal Mobility Disconnect”. Though 91% of lawyers use a smartphone, and 49% are increasingly using tablets, work related mobile device use by lawyers remains limited to checking email (95%) only.

This is surprising. The ABA Legal Technology Survey shows that lawyers, like the rest of us, use mobile devices increasingly frequently in their personal lives. For example, camera (used by 66% of legal smartphone users), GPS/Maps (77.5% of legal smartphone users), Instant messaging /Chat (44% of legal smartphone users), and Text Messaging (73% of legal smartphone users).

In addition, though lawyers regularly download apps to their mobile devices for personal use (as reference, by October 2014, 85 billion apps had been downloaded from the App Store²), the majority of lawyers have never downloaded a legal-specific app (57%) or a business app (55%) to their smartphone or tablet. This highlights a significant Legal Mobility Disconnect. Most lawyers surveyed are failing to use their mobile devices to their fullest potential for work.

Why is this and what will it take to reverse this trend? Security, cost and complexity are the most often cited barriers to mobile adoption in studies of mobile enterprise adoption³. These are good reasons why lawyers have been reluctant to embrace mobility for their work.

However, there is another critical reason for the “Legal Mobility Disconnect” that has yet to be discussed. That is usability / ease of use. Since the mobile computing revolution began in 2007 with the arrival of the iPhone, we have become very sophisticated and discerning mobile users. We are quick to embrace new capabilities that are truly valuable and are easy and intuitive to use. Until this is true, new capabilities remain niche and unused, embraced only by the most geeky early adopter users.

What do we mean by usability / ease of use in a legal context? Well, we have a lot to say on this topic that we will share in blog posts to come. In addition, we are working hard to deliver a new mobile app designed specifically for lawyers that addresses this problem.

Please stay tuned – there is a more coming soon on the Legal mobility disconnect.

– Matt

1. ABA Techreport 2014 – Mobile Technology by Tom Mighell.
2. Statista Mobile Internet & Apps Portal – October 2014.
3. Fierce Mobile IT, IBM CIO Survey.

Mobility for Lawyers – File Access is Key

iphone 6 in hand V2With 91% of lawyers using smartphones¹, Legal IT professionals are deploying solutions to expand mobile productivity at their firms. Here are three tips for mobile prosperity in 2015.

1. Files for the win.
Lawyers are all about billing. Their billable work is frequently related to electronically stored docs: contracts, briefs, and supporting research. Make sure that your mobile solution provides your lawyers with secure mobile access to their files.

The challenge is that files are stored in an array of repositories. Most often files are stored on-premises in a Document Management (DM) system such as WorkSite. Files may also be stored on-premises in SharePoint or Windows/CIFS file shares. At some firms, files may be stored in NetDocuments, which is a growing cloud-hosted DM. Use of public cloud solutions like Dropbox, Box, or OneDrive for file sharing is less common.²

Wherever your firm stores its files, from WorkSite to OneDrive, make sure that your lawyers can access their files from smartphones and tablets. A lawyer needs to be able to quickly find a file, review it, then to email or share the file, along with pertinent advice, to the client.

2. User experience will make it or break it.
If you work in legal technology, you are well-familiar with this dynamic. Lawyers have high standards. Consumer apps are easy and intuitive. Lawyers want the same at work. If your mobility solution does not provide an experience which is on par with consumer apps it won’t be adopted. A single workspace app with email, files, DM, SharePoint, calendar, and contacts is ideal.

Be sure to include lawyers in your trial. Poor user experience is the leading cause of failure of enterprise mobile apps.³ There’s precious little worse than deploying a solution which becomes shelfware.

3. Keep it simple.
The world has changed. Buying physical hardware is old school. Your mobility solution should not rely on proprietary servers. If it is to be deployed on-premises, look for a solution based on Virtual Machines, HTTPS, Exchange, HTML5, that is, infrastructure which you use today. Standard IT infrastructure will keep your costs and maintenance efforts low. If your firm is ready for a cloud-hosted mobility solution, that is often the simplest way to proceed.

At Mobile Helix we specialize in mobile applications which make it easy for legal teams to be productive from smartphones and tablets. If you are exploring ways to provide mobility to your lawyers we would be happy to discuss your needs and how we might be able to help you.

–Maureen

Twitter: @mobilehelix

1. ABA TECHREPORT 2014.

2. Recent ILTA data indicates that 15% of law firms use Dropbox for large file sharing. This figure was down in 2014 from 2013.

3. Kony Enterprise Mobility Survey.