Are Law Firms Ready for Mobile and Social?

An eminent Mary (Mary Meeker that is, not Mary Abraham!) has just presented her views on Internet Trends 2009 at the Web 2.0 Summit. Her key trend for 2009 was “Mobile Internet – Is and Will Be Bigger Than Most Think.” She goes on to list 8 key mobile internet themes, but here’s the one that caught my eye:

Next Generation Platforms (Social Networking + Mobile) Driving Unprecedented Change in Communications + Commerce.

I know we lawyers love our BlackBerries, but is this where the action is?  Maybe not so much.  According to one report, iPhone users account for 65% of the mobile data usage even though they constitute only 11% of the market share in the US.  What does this mean for the future of BlackBerries in the enterprise?  Meeker suggests that RIM’s installed base will give it a 1-2 year advantage, but after that all bets are off given the sky-high rate of iPhone purchases.

So if we don’t have passing grades when it comes to mobile, how are we doing with social networking?  Meeker’s data show that huge numbers of users are flocking to powerful new publishing/distribution platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Demand Media.  Yet every day we hear more and more alarming statistics about the number of companies that are blocking access to social networking platforms.  If this is true, does Mary Meeker’s prediction apply only to folks outside the corporate/legal world?  Or are we about to see a shift in acceptance and participation behind the corporate firewall?

And what about your law firm?  Is it ready for mobile + social?  Or are you hoping to try to sit this one out?

[Photo Credit: mattjb]


Confronting Your Favorite Canadian

Our firm has several great Canadian partners, counsel and associates. However, our firm’s favorite Canadian is more popular than all those wonderful folks combined. What’s the name of our favorite Canadian?  Blackberry.

In a few short years, the Blackberry has become a critical business tool for most law firms as well as businesses in other industries. Despite its ubiquity, can anyone tell me of an instance where the Blackberry was used to advance law firm knowledge management efforts? Does it allow users access to KM systems? Is its display of your RSS feeds so attractive that lawyers are happy to read those feeds on their Blackberries? Does it provide the ability to use your social media tools (e.g., your internal wikis, blogs, etc.) remotely? What about your enterprise search engine — can you run a search via your Blackberry?

In fairness, the Blackberry is not a portable computer and, therefore,  we should not expect to replicate the functionality of our office desktops on our Blackberries. However, this fact does leave a question for law firm knowledge managers: if the most popular tool in the firm provides 24/7 access to lawyers, but handles only e-mail well, do we need to tailor our KM systems to work via e-mail? Or is this a gross distortion of good business process? Alternatively, if your KM systems aren’t accessible via Blackberry, are you, your KM systems and your team a luxury only available in the office? Does that make sense when your lawyers have to work around the clock and around the world?

If the Blackberry is going to be a fixture in our enterprises (at least in the short term), doesn’t it make sense to confront our favorite Canadian and figure out how the Blackberry can be used to advance knowledge management?

Happy Canada Day!

[Photo Credit:  michael40001]