This is the third and final part of the Ascertus brand story with CEO and Founder Roy Russell, where we’ve looked at the past, present and future of Ascertus and the DMS industry. Our first blog was focused on how Ascertus came to be and how they manage to stay current after 22 years in the business. The second part focused on their new mission and vision statements, advice on how to keep clients happy and how companies can avoid the dreaded pitfalls of the DMS industry.
This third and final blog is focused on the future, and in this blog, Roy will discuss what he thinks the biggest challenges will be for the industry this year and how he sees the industry evolve.
This is part two of three in this blog series.
Roy, thank you so much for being here with us again! This week we will be gaining a lot of insight into how you see the future which is very exciting so let’s get to it.
1. What do you think the biggest challenges are going to be this year for companies providing document management solutions and their clients?
Helping clients who are still using on-premise systems understand the benefits of moving to Cloud based solutions. In our case, that is predominately centered around the migration to iManage Cloud. The momentum for migration to the cloud is growing rapidly for all applications. That has been accelerated by the trend for home and hybrid working. Security and data location are still the biggest concerns, but for large law firms moving to the cloud is a massive shift - not just in the number of people it impacts but the logistics of migrating millions of documents - and as can be expected, there is room for concerns and hesitations around a move like that. Mid-tier firms have the same hesitations, perhaps with more pressure on budgets and building strong business cases.
However, clients who once never thought they would move to the Cloud are now doing so, and have found that their data is much more secure than it ever was on-premise. This realisation is filtering down to their own clients who are dropping their initial reservations and are starting to pressure them to make the move to the Cloud to inherit increased security and overall benefits.
Communicating the benefits of moving to the iManage cloud whilst addressing any concerns, is in the best interest of our clients for the following reasons:
- One of the most important things to a law firm is their documents, therefore a best of breed Document Management System (DMS) is crucial to them.
- iManage is proven to be the best DMS for corporate legal departments, law firms and professional services and anyone that works with office documents on the market. We have to demonstrate that iManage Cloud is now a very mature and proven application. Not only is it an upgrade on the user experience and getting rid of computer rooms and servers but there is immediate new functionality and tools that they may not have had with the on-premise application. For example, easier deployment for mobile device support, more granular security, and more importantly enhanced threat detection capability.
- Migration to the Cloud is not an upgrade for the sake of an upgrade - there are very strong business benefits of upgrading. Firstly, it just makes financial common sense. There are surveys that prove that the returns on investment are real. Additionally, the efficiencies and seamless collaboration will benefit users of the system in the current hybrid work environment and help firms provide a better all-around customer experience.
And what are the risks of not moving to the cloud?
iManage is starting to sunset many of the legacy core components of their on-premise solution. Development for old versions of this system is being ended. To ensure that these systems will work on new versions of operating systems, databases, Microsoft Office, web browsers, etc. and that security threats can be addressed they will have no choice but to upgrade. The question then becomes, is it still viable to run those systems and avoid the migration to the iManage Cloud?
Our team at Ascertus have had this conversation with many of our clients and helped them to appreciate the risk versus the return. We are happy to have a no obligation meeting with any iManage customer to talk through these points and educate and help them understand that moving to the cloud isn’t something to be feared and can be done in one step, or baby steps. And the cost of doing this can be written off in the first couple of years.
2. How do you see the DMS market evolve over the next five years and what do you think will be the next big thing?
Being in the technology market for many years, the fascination and excitement with the latest technology never cease to amaze me. You only have to look at the hype around blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) - but when it comes down to it you need to ask yourself whether they have been turned into good practical business applications that are available to everyone other than just those with big wallets and lots of resources.
We shouldn’t be talking about the technology, we should be talking about the business benefits. Whether or not an application has AI, or not, doesn’t matter. What does matter is whether it’s solving a business problem and helping a client be more profitable and competitive.
I do see a wave of pragmatism across the market though, with clients understanding that any technology needs to have substance behind it that meets their business objectives.
I recommend that before jumping onto the next big thing, our clients fully understand and leverage the systems they currently own. It is amazing how many people don’t realise the functionality that they have at their fingertips that would give them further time and cost savings. We are more than happy to show them the full potential of the product and often run free training courses explaining how our solutions work.
Generally, we all work with applications on a need to know basis, but if we take the time and become aware of the full functionality, it can give us further time savings. A prime example is the use of Word and Excel. A little additional training, specific to your own requirements, can cut the time to produce and edit documents in half the time!
For me, it is all about educating our clients to ensure that they receive the full capability of the solution rather than thinking that they have to invest in something new. I would recommend that when looking for a partnership it’s not about the pressure to buy the latest thing, it's about looking at what you’ve got and how it can be made to work better for you.
3. And lastly, how should businesses help customers to adapt to the future and these changes?
- A strong partnership is key - Businesses should provide a solution to their client's business needs whilst ensuring they are aware of all the options available to them, both in terms of their main applications, as well as configurations and value add-ons to those applications that can provide cost effective point solutions, e.g extending a document management system to be a highly effective records management and/or contract management system.
- Addressing the long held misconceptions about products like iManage being too expensive, complicated and requiring too much administration - these views are now very out of date and it is our role to re-educate the market and demonstrate that this is no longer the case. Even a small law firm can benefit hugely from implementing a best of breed system rather than make do with some very poor add on modules from a case management or practice management system. (One of Roy’s previous blogs talks about how smaller law firms can benefit from the same tech as a magic circle firm).
- Providing an honest and balanced view - software vendors are very much tied to the products they develop and can be blinkered in their approach to the whole requirement. They need to look at the required outcomes rather than selling you something that is not fit for purpose. At Ascertus, we pride ourselves that if a client requires solutions from different or multiple vendors then we can put that solution together, implement and fully support it.
- Representing clients to ensure any issues are solved - businesses need to fully understand where problems originate from and escalate their clients' issues to relevant vendors to provide support, as necessary. This is especially true when clients are using multiple solutions from different vendors. As we move to the cloud this becomes even more critical as there are more integrations and more products that have to work together.
- Ensuring that clients get the best value from their solution businesses should help clients to make the system more intuitive and keep them updated with add-ons that improve functionality, such as remote or on the go access that adds value to the core fundamental solution. They should also invest in helping their clients understand how to best leverage their iManage system, not just in terms of their return on investment (ROI) but also in business requirements such as GDPR compliance, and mitigating against cyber threats using tools such as threat manager and security policy manager. Ascertus has recently launched their Newsletter ‘In the Know’ aimed at helping iManage users with regular updates on iManage news, product updates, industry events, free training and top tips that will help readers get the most out of iManage. To register and for further details click here
- Ensuring that clients understand that paper is one of the least secure formats of holding data - The work involved in transferring paper to electronic form is often put on the back burner, however, clients need to be aware of the risk of damaging or losing this data. Unless that data is digitised no AI will be able to pull that paper out and scan it for you in a timely manner! Clients, therefore, need a ‘paper to digital’ plan in place so that their documents can be stored in a repository such as iManage. To understand how you can work smarter and more securely with a Document Management System you can clickhere to download our free ebook to learn more.
Thank you Roy for your input - these blogs have given us a fantastic insight into not only your success but also into the DMS industry as a whole as well as the future. We look forward to hearing about your continued success as technology evolves in the future.