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Takeaways from ILTACON 2015: ECM Edition

Brian Podolsky

4 min read

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Viva Las ILTACON! Last week was the ILTA organization’s annual conference in sunny (and hot) Las Vegas. It was a great week of meeting new friends with old problems, and catching up with old friends with new problems. I was one of fourteen Kraft Kennedy representatives who took the trip to Caesar’s Palace. Many of our practice groups were represented, including our Project Management, Enterprise Client Systems, Information & Security Governance and  Infrastructure & Enterprise Systems practices. I was the sole representative of our Enterprise Content Management practice, so I focused in on the DMS and related legal technology announcements and session tracks.  Here is a quick list of some key takeaways from the vendor announcements made and several of the sessions I attended.

Matter Center is not dead

At last year’s ILTA conference, Microsoft made waves in the Legal IT world when it announced a preview version of Matter Center.  I was optimistic, and wrote an article with my initial thoughts, titled What Does Microsoft’s Matter Center for Office 365 Really Mean for Legal? Many of the questions remain to this day. Since the original announcement was made, Kraft Kennedy and other select partners and firms have been part of two beta waves. But there didn’t seem to be much development progress — at least to our eyes and fingertips. Over the summer, Legal IT Professionals published a piece titled Microsoft Matter Center? It doesn’t matter anymore…. In it, Rob Ameerun noticed some language changes on the Matter Center webpage, and speculated that perhaps the dream had died.  Quite the contrary, it seems!  In a series of announcements and covered in a Thursday session, Microsoft is making Matter Center available to partners and is looking to expand its pilot program with the legal community. In addition, NetDocuments announced to great fanfare that they will be fully integrating the NetDocuments services with Microsoft cloud technologies. The NetDocuments blog reveals:

NetDocuments is working with the Matter Center for Office 365 team to integrate additional Office 365 design patterns to provide an end-to-end robust document and email management solution on the Azure cloud platform. Matter Center development, a SharePoint-based collaboration system, will continue for use by Microsoft and will be externally available through select partners.

I’m not 100% sure what this integration will look like in the end, but it appears that you could have a NetDocuments front-end connect to your documents and email saved as part of Matter Center in Office 365.  The front-end integration from Outlook and Word has always been the large feature gap in Matter Center so far, and it looks like Microsoft is looking to fill that gap with not only NetDocuments, but also Epona.  From Epona’s website:

Epona DMSforLegal adds additional capabilities to Microsoft Matter Center which provides law firms and corporate legal departments additional flexibility to their DMS configuration in SharePoint Online (Office365).  By combining both products full DMS capability plus mobile integration, additional E-Mail management capabilities and more make choosing Epona with Microsoft an excellent decision.

Look for a deeper dive into my thoughts on the future of Matter Center in the near future.

The Cloud DMS WarsNDlogo

NetDocuments had a busy week! In between its announcements of the Microsoft cloud integration and three new AM Law customers, they also took the time to bash their competition at an ILTA session on Tuesday. It was a four-member session panel titled “Considerations and Consequences: Moving to Cloud Document Management”, and it featured representatives from two law firms have made the decision to go to the cloud (one with iManage, and the other with NetDocuments), as well as a representative from each NetDocuments and iManage.  It started innocently enough with each law firm representative explaining what led them to choose the cloud, and how they went about it. But once the conch got in the hands of NetDocuments and iManage, the gloves started coming off.  As I recall, NetDocuments started it by knocking iManage’s security infrastructure in the cloud. They then went after iManage’s enterprise search product IUS (now called “Insight”) for it’s complexity. They traded barbs for a while, but it seems iManage was blindsided by the assault. NetDocuments also managed to squeeze in another mention of their Microsoft integration announcement for good measure. There was definitely a silent awkwardness that set in among the standing-room-only crowd.  Afterwards, there were questions buzzing around the Exhibit Hall about who had been in this session and what exactly happened.

Besides good theater, what this session showed me is how there is definitely a rivalry between these two major players in the market, and that can only lead to further development of new features and technologies as these vendors try to best each other and expand their market shares. This leads me nicely to my last key takeaway.

The New iManage

Back in July when iManage announced its split from HP, I wrote an article listing reasons for my optimism about the big news. After attending the iManage breakfast on Monday, the “WorkSite 9, Office 2016 and Office 365: Which Way to Go?” session led by Shawn Misquitta on Tuesday, I am more convinced than ever about the positive direction iManage will be going now that it is released from the HP bureaucracy. The preview/demo of the “White Rabbit” project showed a forward-thinking vision about how lawyers and legal professionals can interact with their documents and cases in a streamlined away across their desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Beyond that, iManage is first out of the gate with support for Office 2016 when it is released on September 22nd.  We know iManage is the market leader for the Am Law 200. So how does it continue to grow?  How does it avoid losing customers to NetDocuments? It needs to innovate, and now iManage has the freedom to do just that.