By Chris Crowe – Editor, TheKnowList
At the HighQ Forum on 23 April, special attention was given to its “biggest ever release” HighQ Collaborate 3.0. At The Swan at The Globe, next to the River Thames, genuine excitement resulted from a look at Collaborate’s complete redesign and optimisation for mobile and tablet devices. 70 people from 40 organisations attended the exclusive event.
The core themes for the event were very much around mobility and social collaboration, the two central pillars of the latest version of Collaborate. HighQ clients Barclays, Linklaters and Osborne Clarke were there to demonstrate how HighQ tools had made significant contributions to their businesses and how they were looking to leverage the new collaboration and productivity elements of the product.
Mobile and tablet optimisation
During the forum much attention was paid to the new “responsive” design used across the application. Collaborate has been completely rebuilt from the ground up and is now fully optimised for mobile and tablet devices.
The application automatically responds to the device being used and its screen size. The same web-based application runs on all devices, yet it still has the feel of a native app.
HighQ COO Stuart Barr explained that HighQ has paid significant attention to the consumer world and brought many of the best elements into its own enterprise product. He referred to Gartner’s Nexus of Forces, which identifies four interdependent IT trends that are key to innovation in enterprise technology, these being social interaction, mobility, cloud and information. The need for change in response to the Nexus of Forces was raised in a recent blog post by TheKnowList CEO Daniel Brown.
Forum guests certainly recognised these trends and were clearly impressed with HighQ’s initiative to embrace them. Justin North of Janders Dean tweeted during the event: “New version of @highqsolutions Collaborate – the best use of responsive design we’ve seen in #legalIT development yet #HighQforum”.
Margaret Merrick, Knowledge Manager at Irish law firm A&L Goodbody remarked after the forum: “Collaborate 3.0 has the potential to be a powerful, flexible product that could deliver real benefits to our firm and our clients. Significant work has been done to make the viewing experience work on many different mobile devices.”
Sticking with the Nexus of Forces theme Barr talked about how enterprises can use social tools to connect the workforce and to make the most of their key asset, their people. He explained that social integration breaks down organisational boundaries, information and data silos and increases workforce productivity by sharing knowledge.
This mantra was clearly in evidence in Collaborate 3.0 with its radically overhauled activity stream, which now aggregates activities and allows users to add comments, ‘like’ activity and access favourites. Users can also follow people and use the private messaging function to reach one or multiple other users. This is all built on HighQ’s secure, enterprise-grade technology platform. Forum guest John Lord of Neota Logic, an expert systems software company, said: “It is a really hard intellectual and computing problem to conceptualize and create software that provides a platform on which businesses and their client organisations can collaborate meaningfully. HighQ have done an amazing job in addressing collaboration, permissioned data sharing, mobile access and social networking. Collaborate 3.0 is a great platform for legal organisations but there are large adjacent sectors outside of legal where this product will now be a compelling solution.”
Unifying internal and external collaboration
Three talks and presentations by HighQ clients Barclays, Linklaters and Osborne Clarke illustrated the effect of Collaborate on the business environment and the extent to which 3.0 could be further exploited.
Andrew Dey, Director of Legal Operations at Barclays, analysed the use of HighQ Collaborate as an internal and external collaborative platform. He stressed that internal collaboration is given greater impetus by the participation of senior figures in the department. He also suggested that participation in the collaborative platform might drop when the membership of a group becomes too large, in Barclays case, extending the group from 200 to 1,100. Dey also pointed to how Barclays had extended the use of HighQ Collaborate from being an internal platform to one that additionally enables collaboration with external lawyers.
Linklaters has also run a number of social interaction and collaboration initiatives within the law firm. It has used HighQ Collaborate for nearly three years, but wanted to leverage it further as an internal collaboration tool. A report by McKinsey & Company recently indicated that 70% of companies are using social technologies, and that 90% of these report some business benefit from using them.
Ian Rodwell, Head of Client Knowhow Services at Linklaters said that user-friendliness was key to getting people to interact through an internal collaboration platform and that his research indicated that groups should not be much larger than 150 members. Rodwell also suggested that the younger generation of lawyers are simply too accustomed to using these social platforms, to the extent that email is viewed as a rather archaic medium of communication and working together.
Paul Taylor, who co-ordinates Osborne Clarke’s legal process outsourcing (LPO) activities also reflected on the “happy and profitable” experience that his firm had gained from using Collaborate for data room and deal room purposes.
He stressed the attractiveness of the pay-as-you-go approach, having no upfront software cost, and no necessity for software installation or a hardware upgrade. He said the firm liked the software as a service (SaaS) model and that it was intuitive and easy-to-use.
Osborne Clarke business analyst Charlie Rutherford also pointed to the value of the iSheets module within Collaborate. The firm uses it to deal with high-volume real estate matters and is extending to a series of other practice areas. Rutherford said that case review times have been reduced from an average of one hour to just 12 minutes.
Forum guest Elliot White, IT Project and Relationship Manager at Taylor Wessing also stressed how he was leveraging the iSheets module: “I can envisage using iSheets for my relationship management role to track meetings with my practice areas and to capture progress from them. I could use the function to link to a SQL DB and use that to publish financial information to our clients in a secure way. I will also be seriously exploring using iSheets to store property information for our clients.”
Stuart Barr completed the forum by referring to HighQ’s own growth. It has a workforce of 97 people worldwide and has opened new offices in Amsterdam and Chicago. Since April 2012, it has welcomed 35 new enterprise clients. It now has clients throughout the world and is constantly moving into new jurisdictions and new industry sectors. Consultancy packages have been launched to help firms and enterprises to create new systems based on HighQ’s own product portfolio.
HighQ Dataroom has completed a successful first year of service and now includes new features such as site visit duration reports, bulk printing and drag and drop uploads.
HighQ Publisher, a product that is used widely amongst the big international law firms, has also gone through a series of major enhancements, including microsite improvements and integration with LexisNexis InterAction.
However, it was HighQ’s “biggest ever release” Collaborate 3.0 that stole the limelight and was the source of real enthusiasm at the end of the event. David Boulds, Head of Development at Berwin Leighton Paisner was one of the impressed guests and commented: “The updates to HighQ Collaborate in version 3 provide a powerful tool for us to provide information to our clients. It’s refreshing to see HighQ really focusing on the development from a client’s perspective.”
As is customary for HighQ forums, the sun was blazing outside on the River Thames. We’ll just have to wait until next year to see whether HighQ’s next releases can shine as brightly.