Web demos allow interest without commitment

Technology companies make little use of technology to deliver their messages. Web demos may lack the personal touch of a face-to-face show, but you can reach many more people. They offer unparalleled opportunities to show off your products without the mutual commitment which a physical demo offers. The committed people will find you anyway – it is the others you need to reach.

The two web resources I talk about (from Anacomp/CaseLogistix here and Guidance Software in a separate article) are two I fell over (and the fact that I did so is perhaps interesting in its own right, since being found by people who are not looking is an obvious plus). I am sure they are not the only ones – let me know if you own, or have found, a web demonstration which is interesting as an informational medium.

I wrote recently about software demonstrations which I organised for Lord Justice Jackson (Jackson Litigation Costs Review consultation ends). Epiq Systems, Autonomy,  and FTI Technology each sent along their best demonstrators and compressed their shows into 30 minutes each. The result was one of the most illuminating sessions I have ever seen.

You probably need to be a Lord Justice of Appeal with a report to write to command such a luxury. It is difficult for lawyers to organise multiple demonstrations and for suppliers to send their best men to every firm or company which expresses mild interest in their product. Not the least of the problems is that lawyers are fairly wary of expressing even mild interest. Merely putting their head above the parapet will, they fear, lead to a constant barrage of calls from an eager salesman keen to convert that mild interest into a sale, preferably a big one and during the current quarter. That dreadful question “so how soon will you be making a decision?” is the biggest deal-killer there is, and fear of it puts off those who simply know want what is out there or even just to understand the concepts. The supplier, for its part, has finite resources and an obvious wish to focus on the key targets. The salesmen himself (and it usually is a him) has an obvious personal interest in spending his time with those most likely to reach a quick decision.

The first sight of one of these big litigation applications can be daunting. There is a mass of complexity and a host of functions. They all look the same — sorry, suppliers, and I know that yours is different, but to lawyers unfamiliar with the concepts, still less the detail, they all look broadly similar. That is in fact not surprising — they are all performing the same basic function with the same kinds of data, and there is limited scope to make an application look very different from the others at a surface level, however different they may be inside. In addition, the audience members absorb information at different rates, and a demonstrator has to try and accommodate these varying capacities and a wide range of functions within a limited time slot. It is also fair to say that some demonstrators are better than others.

The result is that the potential buyers of these applications wait until they have an undeniable need to, as I put it above, put their head above the parapet. The ideal is the opposite – that they can browse around the products and the companies, get to understand the basics, and only then commit to a full demo.

In this new world, the lawyer can sit in his or her room and choose a convenient time to see the demonstration. If an urgent matter arises at the time originally fixed, well they can simply defer the demo. If they get interrupted in the middle of it, they can switch it off and come back to it. If it gets too boring they can stop listening. If they miss a point, they can click back a little and re-run the section they did not understand. If the demonstrator starts down a track with which they are familiar, they can skip it. There are downsides, of course. The salesmen will not take you out for an expenses-paid lunch, but the upside is that he will not telephone you as soon as you get back to your office to find out when you are going to make that decision.

What I have just described is, of course, well within the capability of the web. Web demos of key functions seem to me an obvious way of getting the attention of possible buyers (and they need only be possible buyers, not near-certainties). Furthermore, the supplier can devote his best demonstrator to the demo, refine it in the light of critical reaction and spread the value to every market in the world. The downside is the perceived lack of human contact but, if the demo is sufficiently eye-catching, that might follow.

CaseLogistix first came to my attention in its pre-Anacomp days through a series of short web-based demonstrations of discrete functions. There were perhaps 20 of them, each devoted to a subset of the functionality, and it was these which grabbed my interest. They disappeared when the then version was replaced – they are a non-trivial task and demonstrations  go quickly out of date. Part of my aim in writing this is to encourage marketing departments to give them a higher priority.

I was reminded of the old CaseLogistix Web demos when I recently bought a copy of Microsoft’s web design application, Microsoft Expression. As with any new application – web design tool or a litigation review application – the first sight of it can be rather daunting, and I wanted a leg up. I found on the Microsoft site a set of videos covering different topics and at varying length. Every time I got stuck, I picked an appropriately named video and, in a few minutes, I was ready to go.

This and the demonstrations to Lord Justice Jackson revived my interest in sharper, more focused ways of delivering an introduction to software. As I said, I was not particularly looking for either of the ones I found. In Anacomp’s case, I was following up a series of press releases in order to make a story round them and link to them. That took me to a webinar given by Jeff Friedman, Senior Product Manager, Litigation Support at Anacomp and Rob Jensen, the Senior Director of Marketing. I know them both, particularly Jeff Friedman, with whom I have regular conversations about both development and marketing. The welcome screen promised a demo and I watched it.

English lawyers are a bit sniffy about webinars (web seminars to those who do not know). They take many forms. This one begins with some information about the company and the context, has a properly selective demonstration in the middle, and some questions at the end. Much of the terminology is American, and its differences may tempt you to overlook the similarities – we both have a lot of documents to handle, tight deadlines and cost constraints and the technology works across cultures (across languages, as well, in the case of CaseLogistix and some others). The diagrams are lucid and helpful, as is Jeff’s accompanying commentary. You can find it and other on-line resources on the CaseLogistix Overview page.

For those unfamiliar with this type of application, the screenshots in the demo give you an idea of what they can be used for, without ramming the detail down your throat. You could absorb a lot of useful information about electronic disclosure generally, quite apart from specific information about CaseLogistix, sitting at your desk with a sandwich in hand.

I suggested above that fear of the over eager-salesman discourages these first tentative steps towards finding out about these things (I am speaking of suppliers generally now, not Anacomp specifically). You have to give your name and e-mail address in order to access most webinars, white papers etc in this market, but I very much hope that you will not be the recipient of unwanted attention as a result of supplying this information. If you are, and if the first polite fending off does not work, perhaps you would let me know. If I hope to encourage marketing departments to put more visual information on the web so that people can inform themselves in their own time, I hope also to encourage sales departments to have faith in the quality of the resulting material. It should speak for itself and will presumably give contact details so that people can follow up if they choose to.  The sale will not turn on the speed and frequency with which the salesman follows up the lawyer’s presumed interest (well, it might, but not in a good way).

I have sidetracked myself, then you. My discovery of this webinar has diverted me from the press releases which I was looking for when I went to Anacomp’s website.

The large product liability firm Bowman and Brooke LLP selected CaseLogistix for its built-in process control features, that is, its ability to move the litigation team from first-pass review to production at the lawyers’ pace not that of the IT department. The customisation features and native file review were also a draw. Canadian law firm McCarthy Tétrault has standardised on CaseLogistix, not merely to speed up their litigation review processes and reduce costs, but to flip between English and French interfaces with a single click. Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg LLP, whose specialisations include litigation before the U.S. International Trade Commission, have bought CaseLogistix.

On the development side, the end of July brought a new version of CaseProduction, the production module of CaseLogistix, with improvements aimed at speeding up the (often overlooked) business of getting the end-product out of the system.  The other end of the process, getting data in, has also been given attention, with the announcement of an alliance with Digital Reef. The alliance brings advanced document connection, selection, reduction, and analysis, as well as early case assessment (ECA) services to law firms, corporate legal departments and government agencies. The key to this relationship will presumably be integration – the extent to which Digital Reef’s functionality will speed up the process of getting data in and sifting it.

As I said at the beginning of this, I am keen to track down good and interesting uses of web technology for  delivering e-disclosure information to lawyers, and particularly to those who may not know one end of an e-disclosure exercise from another. They are the ones who need to pick up the basics in the privacy of their own offices. They are also the ones who represent the broader market – there is a finite supply of Allen & Overys and Shearman & Sterlings who know all this. If the market is to grow, we need to attract new entrants. I am looking for more than talking heads droning on about defensibility, and more too than yards of product description with same-y recitals of features and benefits. Those are important, vital even, but the potential new converts to e-disclosure will not read that stuff until they understand what the context is. They don’t want to be patronised, they are not fools, and they don’t need spoon-feeding, but they do need clear illustrated explanations.

I will keep looking, but let me know if you find one.

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in CaseLogistix, Discovery, E-Discovery Suppliers, eDisclosure, eDiscovery, Electronic disclosure, Epiq Systems, FTI Technology, Litigation Support, Lord Justice Jackson. Bookmark the permalink.

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