This past week in Philadelphia, Nuance Document Imaging held our first Customer Advisory Board (CAB) for the legal sector. The objective of the day was for attendees to network with peers, share best practices, and map out what the next generation of content management solutions should look like to best support these organizations. Discussions were active, extensive and informative. Participants asked questions like: How can I best secure my firm’s data? How can I leverage the top five workflows other law firms use to automate content processes? Can you please partner with the local court systems and drive consistency around content compliance standards? For a full day, our customers and Nuance leadership worked side by to define the future needs of content management workflows for their law firm.
Perhaps my favorite quote of the event was around the need to delight lawyers and legal staff when introducing new technology. The ask was simple.
“When I hand out the iPhone 10 no one complains about learning a new device or having to change. They embrace the update and in fact, thank me for it. It is desirable with new features, better battery life and can be used with little to no training. All software should work the same way. My lawyers and staff should desire new print management and PDF technology because it makes their lives better.”
Customers always have a way of identifying exactly what they need. The event was a resounding success as every conversation was about partnering for a better future. As I reviewed my notes, the conversations came down to three critical asks. Customers told us they want content management solutions that are valuable, modern and simple.
IT’s goal in a law firm is to support the staff with tools and technology that drive greater efficiency and productivity in support of the firm’s business model – generate more billable hours and ensure the profitability of each client engagement. The most common barriers IT faces in pursuit of this goal are overhead, non-billable processes that produce incorrect or low-quality content, and/or introduce security and compliance risks. To better support positive business outcomes, the CIOs and IT executives in the room asked Nuance to automate the top five to ten legal content workflows used by most firms to deliver the right content to the right legal staff at the right time securely. The key to providing value is integrating within their own existing document, content, and records management system ensuring there was no disruption to work.
As I listened to the conversations, I walked away knowing that if our solutions continued to add business value and supported the profitability of the law firm, it would be a no-brainer to grow adoption. Sounds basic, right? But as any product manager knows, all too often products, with good intentions, become bloated and overly complicated as organizations try to meet any and every feature and function their customers asks for. They key to success is prioritizing the capabilities that will deliver the most value to the broadest set of customers. This was a great gut check conversation on just that!
The best debate of the day was the preference around embedded clients for print and capture management vs. external terminals, primarily around lawyers’ preferences to type at the device or a terminal keyboard. The conversation took an unexpected and delightful turn when one CAB participant announced he didn’t want either. He wanted a modern way to interact with his Multi-Functional Printer (MFP) through mobile devices. As one of his workers walked passed an MFP, he wanted her alerted that she had a new document in her print queue or action around kicking off a workflow process. He also didn’t want her to have to be tethered to the MFP to perform work. He wanted all the content required to tag a scanned document to be added automatically. If it couldn’t be automatically added, then he wanted her to add the necessary information via her mobile phone or desktop. Lastly, it should all be done through modern UIs that are intuitive and accessible.
I couldn’t agree more with our customers that all our solutions should be leveraging modern UIs and technologies to adapt to the way the mobile workforce now does business. I get that we may not change the way different generations work with content, but we must better align to those whose preference is mobile for everything. We also want workers excited to work with our technology as it looks and feels modern like their favorite apps on their phone.
Change management was a hot topic of the day as well. Customers shared that if a new technology, no matter how important or beneficial, required significant change management or training, the project would be dead in the water. Technology should enable the business, not complicate the way people work. For example, another great discussion we had was around PDF technology and the desire to make it simple. Lawyers and legal staff have been editing, sharing and producing word processing documents for decades. I was amazed by how many different PDF technologies law firms invested in and how many were struggling to converge around a single solution. Why were there so many? It often came down to user preference. In law firms, lawyers have a significant say in what tools they use. The ask was, “give us PDF products that are so simple and intuitive to use that every lawyer can seamlessly use PDF for basic editing, collaborating, printing, and signing. Yes, the document transformation needs to be accurate – but our desire is to invest in the solution that is the simplest to use.
At one point in time, workers were willing to accept that the technology they used at the office had to be complex. However, as easy-to-use technology has permeated our lives the tolerance for complex, bad software has gone away. Everyone wants to know why enterprise software isn’t as easy to use as Google, Alexa, or the latest app they downloaded last week. To be successful as software producers, we must drive simplicity even in the most complex business processes.
This is only a sampling of the great topics and debates we had bringing members of our legal customer base together. I know I learned a lot, and feedback from the attendees is they did as well.
I want to thank all who attended for their genuine and thoughtful participation. I look forward to kicking off additional advisory boards around different technologies, industry sectors and geographic locations. But for now, all development plans will be guided by the mantra our customers helped define – build products that are valuable, modern and simple.