These are my notes for a presentation that I would have given to several law firm administrators on June 21st, 2006, had the talk not been canceled.


  • Current and future technology:
    • Open Source
    • Linux
    • Open Office
 Example: Mainframe -> IBM PC/DOS -> Apple -> IBM Windows -> Linux
 Example: Word Star -> Word Perfect -> MS Office -> Open Office


  • Yes, it is generally best to buy once rather than rent… when value stays the same.
  • Technology is changing very rapidly. The old model of buying a 3 to 5 year solution no longer works.
  • Renting/subscribing to services allows you to focus on the services you need, not the technology behind them.
  • Less investment in technology equals a more agile company.
    • If you are not needing to recoup an investment, you can keep your eyes on the goal, not where you’ve been.
  • Success comes from constant change, proper application of technology can make this less painful.
 Example: Spam and virus control is vital, but constantly changing
 * Dedicated service is able to keep more up to date
 * Centrally managed prevents problems when a workstation doesn't update and gets infected
 * Prevents spam and viruses from even coming into the network, keeps them outside.
 Example: Email used to just be email, now it is groupware with serious security complications
 * Lists
 * Calendaring
 * Tasks
 * Document sharing
 Example: Websites used to just display contact information
 * Online chat
 * Customer forums
 * ecommerce
 Example: Working remotely
 * VPN
 * Citrix
 * Novell Remote Office

Best Practice and Automation

  • Once you know your business practices, they can be automated.
  • Repetitive tasks can be automated. Don’t pay $7/hr for two years to do a task that can be automated for $500.
    • Magic number is two. If a task will take a person two man weeks over two years, it’s worth automating.
  • Do not fear automating away jobs. You’re not in business to pay people, you’re in business to make money.
    • If the workers are worth keeping, they will adapt. That’s to your advantage.
    • If they are not worth keeping, they will go to a less efficient company. That’s also to your advantage.
  • The best technology is systems-based, many small components working together for a greater whole.
    • It also works for organizations, give each person small, well-defined roles, and everyone becomes more efficient.
    • As technology improves, automate the roles that you can, and free people to focus on goals of business growth.
  • Update Update Update
    • Keep systems current and secure against threats
    • Keep machinery under contract, so it can be fixed or replaced when there is a problem
 Example: Novell Zenworks
 * Allows for highly automated support, inventory control, and system imaging.
 Example: Novell iPrint
 * Simplified printing, allowing for end users to service themselves.
 * Also provides centralized authentication to printing resources
 Example: Novell AppArmor
 * Wraps an application and prevents it from doing anything the admin says it can't do.
 * Even if app is hacked, the damage cannot spread.

Document and Don’t Duplicate Effort

  • Once you know exactly where you stack up against your competitors, you know your strengths and weaknesses.
    • Use tech to make your strengths scalable
    • Use tech to make supplement your weaknesses
  • Tech used for documentation reduces duplication of work within your organization
 Example: Revision Control
 Programmers use a technique called Revision Control to keep track of changes in code.
 Basically, the system receives files and stores older versions.  This way, if you ever need an
 earlier version of a file, or to know who changed something and why, you just ask the system.
 It's like a super backup system.
 Example: Wiki
 The concept behind a wiki is a web site where anyone can edit any page.  This is very useful
 when making encyclopedias and other knowledge repositories.  In business, however, you want a
 bit more control.  Using a controlled-wiki, however, allows all the people you designate to
 freely document process and suggest improvements.  This can leverage your organization and create
 a culture that embraces change, rather than resisting it.
 Example: Spelling
 Personally, I have never been able to spell very well.  As a child, I learned to use Apple Works,
 a word processor on the Apple IIc to write papers.  I got into the habit of always using a computer
 to spell check my work.  By supplementing my weakness this way, I built a career for myself.

Apply Technology Properly

  • Technology is also a huge contributor to corporate culture.
    • Tech can complicate work flow and create a class of “irreplaceable people”
      • This is often referred to as job security
    • However, tech can also be used to create an atmosphere of transparency, so all employees are accountable.
      • This keeps everyone honest and keeps quality high.
      • This also means that the company as a whole does not suffer when one employee is absent.
 Example: Messenger
 * Cost of interruptions is very high, often higher than the need to be instantly available.
 * Instant decisions are often wrong.
 * On the other hand, the ability to communicate real-time with disparate employees is very useful.
 * Treat IM like net meetings.
   * Schedule them in advance
   * Archive the discussions
 Example: Website
 * Your website is an employee, not a brochure.
 * Must be interactive
 * Must present the business
 * Must answer all questions
 Example: Social Software
 * Livejournal, myspace, amazon, ebay, forums
 * These techniques amplify marketing, positive and negative
 * Stay on the good side of the internet.  Best way is to be honest and forthright.
 * Unethical behaviour will get uncovered and stay with you forever.  Best to never start.