The consumerisation of IT is a trend many organisations find increasingly difficult to manage, a topic covered here by the The Law Society Gazette and by industry analysts such as Freeform Dynamics here.
The blurring of the line between technology used for business and personal use means law firm IT departments have to make a decision about what they can manage and, crucially, have a much better understanding of the role IT plays in issues such as marketing, lead generation, customer engagement or social media.
Traditionally, law firms have tightly controlled the messages given to the outside world, what employees could do or say, who employees could engage with and and the channels they were allowed to use to communicate with the outside world.
With more smartphones, tablets and iPads in the hands of employees, and the increasing use of these to find information, use social media and participate in conversations, law firms can’t ignore the need to embrace the consumerisation of IT.
The problems many law firms face include:
- Developing the right policies for the use of various devices at work and for personal use so that productivity is not sacrificed;
- Understanding how prospects or clients use technology to help educate themselves about the legal services they need, and resultant benefits;
- Coming up with the right content appropriate to all the devices being used;
- Finding out how to use the technology better for social media marketing and engagement; and
- Finally, and perhaps the most difficult, making sure everyone knows how to use permited devices to move prospects through the sales funnel until they become clients.
To be honest, many law firms have enough on their plates now before they want to think about getting the above problems fixed. Getting noticed is hard enough given the competitive landscape and amount of online noise being created by firms fighting each other for business. It is easier to try and simplify policies and try to ignore the consumerisation of IT by refusing employees from using certain devices in the first place.
This might work for a while and for a few law firms. However, it is a trend that can’t be ignored especially given the explosion of social media and the use of the latest devices to engage with others.
If your clients and prospects are using iPads or Tablets for mail, research, Skype calls, Twitter and Facebook as examples, you need to understand how this impacts the way they like to communicate and be engaged with.
If you primarily rely on networking meetings and referrals for new business (which can be good), you will potentially lose out to lawyers that understand how others use technology in their lives and how to develop their sales funnels to take advantage of this.
And those lawyers that want to develop effective social media marketing plans simply can’t ignore the consumerisation of IT, even if their own internal policies prohibit them from embracing new devices for their work.
Think about the updates made on Twitter using smartphones, the presentations viewed via YouTube on tablet devices, or the podcasts that can be downloaded using iTunes. All these signal a shift in the way information is consumed and shared.
The difficulty many people face is finding the information they need via the various devices they use so that they make the right decisions. There is so much content out there – finding out what is important is getting harder over time.
Law firm social media marketing should aim to make it easy for prospects and clients to find what they are looking for and engage with lawyers. Directing people to relevant content, providing feedback on forums and participating in two-way conversations will soon be basic requirements for effective law firm service.
If IT departments know the value employee consumer devices can bring to lead generation and client engagements strategies, it would be easier for them to come up with policies that are workable and make it easier for lawyers to build positions of authority within specific niches.
In the future, we might not talk about the consumerisation of IT. The way employees and consumers use devices will mean the current methods used to manage IT estates will change – especially with the increasing use of cloud computing technology.
So lawyers have the opportunity NOW to think about embracing the consumerisation trend and make sure it works for both the internal management of employees and the development of effective sales funnels using social media or traditional maketing methods.