2017 Predictions: How 5 Technology Trends Can Evolve Today’s SMB

Gartner recently announced its top technology trends for 2017 – and for business leaders who are looking ahead, these trends provide a lens through which to view how the right technology tools and services can support growth. Some of the major trends for businesses include increased digital scope, efficiency through artificial intelligence, and a diminishing line separating the digital and physical world.¹ 

Mid-sized businesses, particularly those within the legal field, are finding opportunities in technology to expand their offerings and increase revenue. Here’s how they’re doing it:

Intelligent Apps

Gartner emphasizes the importance of intelligent apps, which are helping workers across fields find the right data faster, become more efficient and increase productivity. An intelligent application is a software platform that uses artificial intelligence or machine learning to increase the productivity of its user. Because of this, intelligent apps are quickly becoming part of the mid-size toolkit. Individuals in the legal field are using dictation software to cut costs by speeding up the process of creating legal briefs and transcripts. Other applications include voice-driven search functions that can help lawyers quickly find document templates or conduct research on relevant case law. By saving time during these essential steps, efficiency is increased – saving money and increasing the opportunity for revenue by allowing businesses to take on more projects.

Expanded Mobility

Globally, workers are on the move – whether they’re working from home or traveling to support clients. Companies are continuing to embrace mobility and collaboration software, keeping their workers connected even when they’re out of the office. This can increase their capacity to do work and in turn, drive higher billable hours. Investing in mobility tools ranging from cloud document storage to a communications platform that makes it easier to stay connected on the go can have a dramatic impact on the workflow. Companies are embracing technology tools like Hosted VoIP to forward office phones or simultaneously ring to mobile devices, home phones and even your laptop or tablet. Project management systems like Basecamp or Podio, which can be accessed on any device with an Internet connection.

Digital Technology Platforms

As Gartner notes, “Every organization will have some mix of five digital technology platforms: Information systems, customer experience, analytics and intelligence, the Internet of Things, and business ecosystems.”¹ Within the legal field, digital technology platforms are changing everything from how attorneys create and share files with clients to how documents are filed with the courts. While intelligent apps help improve productivity, digital technology platforms enable better customer service through faster access to documents, better insights into the legal process, and make information more readily available to customers.

VR and Augmented Reality

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are being used across industries in a number of innovative ways. Lawyers are finding creative ways to incorporate virtual reality; helping train clients to face cross-examination, getting used to speaking in front of a jury, and more. In one headline case in Canada, lawyers brought virtual reality into the courtroom in order to help jurors more effectively envision the situation that occurred as part of the alleged crime. Lawyers who find innovative ways to use virtual reality in both their training and case work will have a differentiating factor – and may be able to expand their service offerings as a result.

Adaptive Security Intelligence

Security is an increasing concern for all businesses. Increases in security events such as data breaches and whaling schemes, where hackers impersonate legitimate personnel, have raised the bar on security. Adaptive security intelligence makes it easier for organizations to protect client data. With adaptive security intelligence, a multi-layered approach to security continuously learns potential threats, and then upgrades its defenses. More clients will trust legal firms with the best security infrastructure.

For mid-sized businesses, 2017 offers a wide variety of different technology trends that can help grow their business. It’s important to think beyond the basics of new social media channels or advertising techniques. New technology innovations are empowering streamlined workflows, enhancing mobile communication, and offering a new level of security protection. Companies in every vertical segment – including legal – are finding innovative ways to apply these advances to their own field for expanded offerings, lower costs, and increased productivity.