Cloud computing icon

Cloud computing icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently read an article about the benefits that cloud computing can bring to law firms and their KM systems.  This wasn’t something that I had come across before but, after having more of a look, it’s become apparent to me just what a hot topic it is.

There is a whole load of hype about cloud computing at the moment.  Just to be clear – it basically describes a situation where a law firm (or other organisation) connects to someone else’s servers and rents access to that hardware, as opposed to the more traditional model of on-site IT facilities.  The cloud can be public (shared by lots of law firms/organisations) or private (restricted to just a few or even one law firm/organisation).  

On a general level, it makes a lot of sense for law firms to consider cloud computing because it can bring IT costs down whilst at the same time making everything easier, faster and more powerful.  When it comes to KM (where services might include collaboration, document management, search, e-discovery and social media), one of the major benefits is that users can access content and collaborate wherever they are and using any device – this is fantastic for promoting a culture of on-the-spot knowledge sharing, which is fundamental to the success of any KM initiative.

Experts seem to be predicting that all KM services will be in the cloud within the next ten years.  Given that it is only just starting, this signals a massive change in the delivery of KM and a steep learning curve for law firms.  I shouldn’t have to remind lawyers but…any law firm considering purchasing KM technology in the cloud should read the supplier’s terms and conditions so that it knows where the know-how is, how it is being maintained and what rights both the law firm and the supplier have.  Most importantly, who does the know-how belong to whilst it is in the cloud?  Knowledge is arguably a law firm’s greatest asset and there can be no substitute for making sure that it remains secure.