In an interesting conversation today with Gil Yehuda and Livio Hughes on Enterprise 2.0, we discussed the rate at which companies are jumping on the Enterprise 2.0 bandwagon. Gil mentioned that recent figures indicated that anywhere from 25-40% of companies were either in the midst of or about to begin a deployment of social media tools behind the firewall. As for the rest, they probably had a significant number of employees using these tools outside the firewall and under the radar.
All of this prompted me to ask what the comparable figures for law firms were. As we heard, anecdotal evidence suggests that many law firms are lagging behind their clients. When asked why, Gil pointed out that relatively few law firms claim that their use of technology sets them apart from their competitors. Further, that law firms behaved in a “tribal manner” and tended not to adopt technology until their peers did.
So, if it isn’t technology that sets your firm apart from its competitors, what does? The people you hire and retain. If we take that as a given, I just have to ask: What are you doing to support the people you hire? Do you have technology and KM systems that simplify and rationalize work flow? Do you provide tools that permit easy communication and effective collaboration? Does your approach to knowledge management, technology and the practice of law have a net effect of making everything easier or harder for the user?
If you’re serious about the competitive advantage your people represent, you have to be serious about how you deploy KM systems and technology to support those people. And, you have to seriously consider how social media tools can provide that support in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
[Photo Credit: David Cavan]