If you run an internet search on the definition of the digital workplace, be prepared to walk away without answers. The digital workplace is defined in lots of different ways by lots of different organizations. The one thing they all have in common is their ambiguity. Definitions are intentionally vague because no one wants to commit to anything.
One particular organization defines the digital workplace as a change of mindset. Another organization defines the digital workplace as the sum total of all the technologies in a workplace. Still another defines it as creating a consumer-like computing environment that makes it easier to innovate and deliver solutions.
The goal of this post is to simplify the definition to something that is concise and meaningful. Then we are going to apply it to the legal sector. For our purposes, the digital workplace is simply a workplace in which digital technology works to the benefit of those using it. It is that simple.
Digital Technology in Law
Our definition of the digital workplace makes clear what we are talking about in the typical law office. Technology that would facilitate a productive working environment would include case management software, other software systems, computers, mobile devices, and so forth. It would also include internet access and local network availability.
All of these technologies already exist to some degree in the modern law office. It’s not as though attorneys are still working with rotary dial telephones and paper accounting ledgers. Everything from record-keeping to discovery has been digitized in the modern era. That gives us a good starting point.
Improving the Digital Workplace
It’s one thing to apply a digital workplace definition to the legal sector; it is an entirely different matter to improve the workplace with technology. Recognizing a need for improvements puts law offices in an interesting position. How do they best use technology to create a better practice without that technology interfering with the ability to work?
The first thing that comes to mind here is legacy software. Think of a case management software package that was brand-new 10 years ago. It was a fine package in its day. Today however, it is considered legacy software because it is old technology. As such, it may not be as efficient as newer systems.
Any IT manager looking at that software would understand that the solution is to upgrade. But wait just a minute. Is it wise to upgrade case management software without upgrading the rest of the applications the office uses? Moreover, is it wise to upgrade them all yet still keep each one separate from the other?
A Single Software Solution
The makers of the NuLaw legal case management application say that applying the digital workplace concept to a law firm would dictate upgrading software in a very specific way. Rather than replacing six legacy systems with six new pieces of software, improvement would mean replacing all legacy software with a single solution.
A single, cloud-based application that brings everything together in one place streamlines the entire software environment. It gives everyone in the office an integrated tool that makes work more efficient, more productive, and less labor intense.
With a single application that includes full integration, everything from discovery to calendaring suddenly becomes easier. The office becomes more productive because mundane tasks are done automatically. Staff members communicate more freely with each other, and with clients on the outside.
The digital workplace may mean different things to different people, but it is all about efficiency in the legal sector. Case management software is the foundation of that efficiency.