At its international Vantage 2014 user conference last week in New York City, Thomson Reuters Elite showed off several new products. I attended a June 23 media day there, where members of the media met with Thomson Reuters executives and attended presentations on the new products.
(Full disclosure: Thomson Reuters paid my travel to New York and fed me better than I usually eat.)
Elite is a suite of “enterprise business management” products for law firms and other professional services firms that handle financial management, client and matter management, business development and risk management. Within the legal field, Elite’s customers are mid- to large-sized law firms and corporate legal departments. Numbers provided by the company indicate that 4,200 firms in 42 countries use Elite products.
At last week’s conference, several products were highlighted. As has been Thomson Reuters’ trend in recent years, the new products emphasize integration of multiple features into a single platform and use across multiple desktop and mobile devices.
Elite Conversion Engine
According to Elisabet Hardy, vice president of product management and marketing at Elite, Elite has a competition problem, and the competition is itself. Its lead product is Elite 3E, a web-based financial and matter management platform. Yet far more customers use Elite’s older, server-based product, Enterprise. 3E is in use at 128 firms, while 737 firms use Enterprise.
A major roadblock that keeps firms from converting from Enterprise to 3E is the time involved. For a large firm, the full conversion process can take 18 months to two years, Hardy said.
Aiming to expedite the conversion process, Elite last week unveiled three new components designed to reduce the overall conversion time by 50-70 percent and reduce to just weeks the time required to convert the data from Enterprise to 3E. With these new components, a firm should be fully up and running on 3E in 9-12 months, Hardy said:
- Productivity Blue Print. This provides a prescribed approach and set of templates for implementing 3E that should address at least 70 percent of what a firm would want to do with it.
- Services Library. A library of ready-made components that firms can use to implement 3E, including dashboards, workflows, reports and notifications.
- Conversion Engine. This automates the conversion of data from Enterprise to 3E and performs data quality checks, enabling the conversion to be completed within weeks.
Elite recommends that a firm use its Blue Print for a year or so and then, as it learns the system, customize it according to its own preferences.
At last year’s Vantage conference, Elite announced that it would launch Workspace with the next month. As I wrote then, “Workspace is Elite’s attempt to bring together distinct but related products within an environment where they share a common workflow and a common look and feel, across both web and mobile devices.” The official launch of Workspace came earlier this month, and Elite was showing it off at last week’s conference.
Workspace is designed to provide lawyers and others in a firm with a single interface to multiple products. For now, it integrates only with two Elite products, Elite 3E for financial management and MatterSphere, a Microsoft Office-based matter-management platform. Using something called the Elite Integration Framework, Workspace provides access to both front- and back-office applications through a single view.
Eventually, Workspace with integrate with other Elite products and even support integrations with third-party products such as PeopleSoft, Hardy said during our meeting last week. The eventual goal is to provide the end user with one-stop shopping for all front- and back-office functions.
Business Development Premier
This new business development platform could be described as a mash-up of client relationship management (CRM) with market and business intelligence, all with the goal of helping to identify prospective clients and providing insights into their business and industry. Here is how the company’s press release describes it:
Business Development Premier is more than a traditional client relationship management (CRM) system; it combines enterprise relationship management (ERM) technology, marketing automation, and experience management to drive more successful marketing and business development initiatives.
For CRM, it uses ContactNet, a tool that automatically extracts client data and identifies prospects from email, address books, calendars, email traffic patterns and other sources. It then augments that data with financial and market information drawn from sources within Thomson Reuters. The technology claims to uncover 3-5 times more contacts and to keep their information up to date automatically.
Search a company, and you will see both details about the company and an icon indicating the “strength” of your firm’s relationship to that company. You can drill down and see who in your firm knows who at the client or prospect. You can also see various corporate and financial details about the company. From there, you can look at who are the company’s competitors and see the strength of your firm’s relationships with those competitors.
Business Development Premier can also be used for email, list and campaign management.
Business Development Premier was initially launched in August 2013. Last week’s announcement brought the product out of beta testing and into general availability.
eBillingHub Intelligence was actually launched last December, but the media day presentation included an overview of this product. eBillingHub is a web-based system for standardizing and streamlining a law firm’s electronic billing. Intelligence is an enhancement to the system that shows how a firm’s billing processes compare against other firms.
Intelligence uses data from another Thomson Reuters product, Peer Monitor, which I recently reviewed for the ABA Journal. It lets firm administrators benchmark the performance of the firm and individual lawyers, letting them see where billing is being done efficiently and where it can be improved.
Besides benchmarking, Intelligence lets firm administrators see trends in e-billing, both geographically and by practice area, and analyze common e-billing errors within the firm.