This week's International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference drew little interest from anyone but legal professionals.

But as the conference concludes, it is worth noting two new releases that underscore ongoing competition between OpenText and Microsoft in the document management and collaboration space. Both companies released new law-focused collaboration tools that focus on the secure transfer, syncing and sharing of documents.

  • OpenText announced the release of eDOCS10, its specialized document management application for the legal profession
  • Microsoft announced a preview of Office 365 Matter Center that enables file sharing and organization from the comfort of familiar productivity tools

Both solutions tackle the ongoing problem of document chaos in the enterprise.

Document Management Problems

There is no shortage of solutions for dealing with document management problems in the enterprise, including ones targeted at legal professionals. But none of them have stopped the ongoing problem of document chaos.

In recent research from Docurated, we saw that the two biggest problems at the moment are the proliferation of silos and the resulting inability to find the right content at the right time. Breaking this down even further, Docurated identified seven pain points for document management, including content spread across disparate repositories, five or more storage repositories, poor mobility and ‘lost’ documents, file and folder sprawl, antiquated technology and widespread use of file servers, inability to locate content and under use of less expensive cloud storage.

Both OpenText and Microsoft aim to solve these problems by making content easier to find as well as securely share documents across the enterprise.

eDOCS 10 claims it eliminates inefficiencies when dealing with large volumes of electronic content by creating a single, highly scalable library for all work products and information. With eDOCS DM, data such as documents, email, graphics, PDF's, scanned paper and electronic records are consolidated in a unified enterprise knowledge base for retrieval and collaboration.

In fact with eDOCS 10, OpenText offers enterprises a full range of document management capabilities that range from capture to governance, collaboration and security from both desktops and mobile devices.

Security is a Priority

Security is a core requirement for the legal profession. With this in mind, OpenText provides eDOCS users a collaborative workspace that can be accessed by all authorized users, including those outside the enterprise.

These also tie in with OpenText’s other solutions for the legal profession including records management and information governance solutions as part of OpenText’s Red Oxygen strategy that unites all the different elements of an information management strategy under a single umbrella.

For its part, Microsoft has given legal professionals a look at a preview version of Matter Center for Microsoft Office 365, a document management and collaboration solution specifically geared to law firms and enterprise law departments.

This new solution builds on the existing functionality of Office 365 and deals with the seven pain points identified by Docurated by enabling users locate and collaborate on legal documents from just about anywhere and any device.

2014-8-21 Microsoft's Matter Center.jpg

According to Tejas Mehta, group product manager for Matter Center for Office 365, the preview is the result of months of work with both the Microsoft legal team and legal firms outside of Microsoft.

The result is a solution that enables users to access document management, search and collaboration features from inside their productivity apps like Word and Outlook. It has also integrated OneDrive or Business into the mix to enable external sharing and collaboration tasks.

Building a legal solution that adapts Office 365 to the needs of legal professionals has all kinds of things going for it. One of those things is that it offers users the possibility of easy document management and collaboration functions from interfaces that all office workers will be familiar with by now.

This means that the learning curve for users is relatively small for those that haven’t used legal systems before. It also means that because its tied into Office 365, it will probably be available on a similar pricing scheme to the plans that exist already, and which will probably work out cheaper than many of the current, on-premises systems that are on the market at the moment.

Whether the development of Master Center is a response to direct consumer demand for a legal version of Office n 365 or the beginnings of a strategy to develop Office 365 versions for particular verticals — leaving aside the education plans — remains to be seen.

Microsoft has not given a definite date for the full release of Matters Center. OpenText noted that eDOCS DM 10 is scheduled to be available worldwide in English and French in September. Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish translations are scheduled to be available shortly.