How data drives innovation at Litera
Two Litera insiders, Matt Miller, VP Product Management Drafting, and Matt James, VP Go-to-Market Drafting, discuss how they use insights from analytics and data to drive innovation and the end-user experience at Litera. Data enables them to respond to firms when they want to know how users are using the products and how they can get a better return on their investment. Read transcript
Vice President, Drafting Go-To-Market
Matt James has been with Litera for 13 years and has been heavily focused on presales and customer advocacy.
Vice President, Drafting Product Management
Matt Miller has been with Litera for almost 15 years. His roles have included Customer Success, Solutions engineering, Director of Life Sciences, Senior Product Manager, and now VP of Product Management for Drafting.
Welcome to Legal Tech Matters Litera podcast dedicated to creating conversations about trends, technology, and innovation for modern law firms and companies big and small.
Welcome to today’s episode of Legal Tech Matters. My name is Matt James, and I am joined by Matt Miller. So, what do you say about our round of introductions to go first?
Yeah, sounds good, Matt. Happy to be here. Thanks to the marketing team for inviting us in. I am Matt Miller, currently the vice president of product management for our drafting business unit, have been with Litera in some form for close to 15 years now. I’m excited to be here today and talk about all things product.
Wonderful, and my name is Matt James. I am currently the VP of Go to Market for the drafting business unit. I have been with the organization for 13 years, heavily focused on the presales side. So, working with our customers who are giving us the most candid view of our technology and I thought today would be a great opportunity to bring in Matt and eventually we will get to the results of much of the innovation that we do.
But I thought really getting into the weeds as to how we drive forward our products, where we get those insights. Many of it is from our customers, as we kind of alluded to, but also the data behind that.
So, I thought maybe before we get into where we are, it might make sense to start in the back of the house on where we gather data and some of the things that we do around analytics. So, I thought we can maybe start with the topic of the applications Insight’s environment through Microsoft and maybe Matt you could go into a little bit of detail and how you use that. And you know, I’d be happy to add my value to that, as well as the way that we have worked with our customers to consume that data.
Yeah, sure, absolutely. So, you know, as we’ve continued to invest in the applications, what we are hearing from our customers, they want to know how are their users using it? What is my return on investment for using that application? Those types of things.
One of the ways we can help gather that information and report back on that is through Microsoft’s application Insight’s technology. So, at current, all of our latest application releases do have usage tracking data inside. So just a couple of points of clarification for our customers who are listening to this and might be a little more data sensitive. There are a couple things I’ll call out initially on that.
One is if you don’t want us to track usage, that’s totally fine.
We can give you license keys for the applications that don’t track usage data, but pretty much what we’re tracking there is very basic stuff – clicks from the ribbon. We can’t really understand who your users are, or we can’t see specific content within the documents.
We realize the nature of the customers and the types of documents they’re working, working on. If you do want your data captured and you but you don’t want us to retain that data for long periods of time. We have data retention policies that can be enforced per firm.
So, getting that kind of public service announcement out of the way, we are using application Insights within the application. So Azure users are using those applications as either standalone or within Microsoft Word, as they click on things that’s transmitting some data back to us to our application Insights server. We post process that through a system called Tableau, which helps us kind of aggregate the data longer term, also create pretty reports for our customers to help them better understand who’s using it at what frequency they’re using it, how many documents they might be using that that data for and data seems to be a we can get into this more in the podcast today, but data seems to be a key driving factor, not only within the application to better understand how people are using it, but can be kind of a central point of how we see, you know, other applications within Litera coming together.
Yeah, it absolutely can be used as a benchmark, and I know many of the conversations that I’ve had with our customer base. It is that exactly help us understand how our users are using it. But is there an opportunity to understand if there’s a better way to deploy this technology, a better way to introduce it, a better way to get our return on investment? As you talked about some of the stuff from a tableau perspective, you know, that is obviously so that we can get to a point where it can be consumed from our customer base.
But I’ve constantly found that everyone is struggling to some extent to consume the data in the way that they want. Gartner actually came out with something I believe that at the middle of last year to say that everyone’s living in these dashboards, but it’s really data sources that that matter, right?
It’s really understanding that it’s not about necessarily frequency of use, but the quality of use, how someone used it when someone used it, and they know that while it may not be something that we’d have been or demonstrate in some of the deliverables that we give to our customers, I know that you have done a bunch of work around really understanding the interaction between our products or maybe the flow in which our products are being used from a workflow perspective. Could you maybe speak to some of those? And I know there’s no visual aid to show right here, but some of those and how you consume them and how that that really pay plays into some of the decisions we make.
Yeah, I guess imagine, if you will, to have application insights or a couple of things on the data. one interesting point there that Matt brought up is, you know, we shouldn’t look at usage data to say how many, you know, the number of clicks equals value to my users because many times we look at when we look at usage data with an application insights, we see people clicking too much and we’re going to what that means to me and product is we need to reduce the friction within the application.
So, the next time we do release and the next time you get that report, the user might have clicked less. But that’s in the benefit to that user and their usage and adoption of the application. I’ve reduced the friction that we might have created for some workflow that we had originally built in.
So, you know, when looking at data, I think that’s an interesting point Matt brings up. It’s like, really understand what you’re trying to you’re trying to get out of the data. And I think at the end of it, for our legal community, it’s largely an efficiency play. And we also see it helping with from a training aspect, and we can kind of dive into that a bit more. But for how we look at it, we do look at an aggregate of the customers to understand what are those ten to 15 features people are using 80% of the time. And you know, we always, before we build something, will go into the market, understand what the problem we’re trying to solve is. We’ll build some mock-ups and then based on that, we’ll get feedback from our customer base, and we’ll build an application, right?
That was our best educated guess on what the application should look like and what the workflows should be. Now we build something, we release it to the market. Are the people actually flowing through the application the way we built it or are they are the friction points within the application.
So, application Insights as a feature called Flow, which allows you to see the, you know, the percentage of time someone’s moving from one feature to the other. And if we see that someone’s, you know, flowing in a particular direction through the application that we wouldn’t have thought of or it one of the core workflows that we built for, you know, we’ll go back out and talk to the customer base and make adjustments accordingly. And that’s largely all part of being an agile development shop here at.
Yeah, it’s funny that you say that because there was an article that an individual, an innovation lawyer for one of the larger global law firms, wrote about the top ten ways that a comparison product was utilized right. And I think it was eye opening to us that, yeah, of course, the top three or four use cases we were solving for were top of the list, but that there were, you know, five, six or seven other ways that people are leveraging that technology in their day to day to support what they were looking to accomplish. So, this is a comparison application. We actually saw they were using it to proofread, and we happen to have a proofreading application, right? So, when you start to understand how people are using it, not only does that allow us to make changes to our products, it allows us to educate the market. But as you said, the amount of conversations I have around something being too clicky is it seems very elementary, but it’s constantly happening. So, if we know those insights, we can absolutely improve the product so that it’s not clicking.
So, I’ll add one more thing to that like DocXtools Companion as an example, very popular application for us, kind of more lawyer focused. But when we built it originally, we’re like, all right, we’re going to solve the three most challenging problems and documents numbering, table of contents, and cross-referencing.
So, and we built that those are the three primary buttons on that little itty-bitty ribbon. But if you if we look at the usage data, the predominant features that are being used, there are part of the tools menu and it’s things like convert straight quotes to curly quotes and or make, yeah, yeah, conforming font or spacing consistency in the application, those little itty-bitty ones that we wouldn’t have even thought of, we kind of just threw them in. But they’re really popular feature sets. They’re really, you know, when you talk to users about them, that kind of making sure that stuff is consistent is, you know, to a lawyer’s customer.
They’re not going to pick up on the legal jargon mishap as quickly as they will a, you know, spacing and consistency or quote inconsistency. So, to them that that’s a really high priority. And, you know, with knowing that knowing that that’s, you know, very high valuable features or high value features for the lawyers and their teams, you know, we’ve gone back out and marketed that. Educated ourselves, engineering and solutions engineering teams accordingly, so that people are more aware of those features and functions. Well, I think that’s the beauty to it. Right. We’re not we’re not trying to go out to the market and correct the way that they’re working.
We’re trying to learn from it. And in fact, what you find out is yes, to your point. Those seem like very rudimentary capabilities that are going to just, you know, conform a couple of quotation marks or editing any mistakes, if you will.
But what you recognize is that are in that scenario because they are constructing work product from a variety of different sources, right? And you start to get to the root of how they’re copying and pasting work product or how they’re spending a significant amount of time going out and logistically finding a document that lives inside of the document management system, right? I’ve had I’ve had individuals tell me it is not uncommon to expect this to take an hour up to 50 hours a transaction. And I think, well, you know, we were speaking about DocXtools Companion and these little tool features that are helping out what we’ve actually done is uncovered the fact that there is a challenge in finding work product that is available to them and that happens to be one of our other technologies – Content Companion, which is all about helping someone quickly get to that language and then having it for future use.
And as we start to learn these, you know, these different workflows, it not only evolves one product, but it actually helps support the entirety of what we’re trying to do in the space. And for anyone who’s listened to us, kind of go to market with, you know, our conceptual product offering not to think of us as a point solution that solves one individual problem, but somebody or someone who is constantly thinking about progressing that document to its end state, which is truly how the lawyer thinks about it on a daily basis.
Yeah, I think, you know, as we talk more about data here, we’re kind of initially came in talking about usage data and how understanding where people are clicking within an application can benefit future of our future development of the application, as well as help you, our customers understand who’s using it, is training on the application sticking in those types of things.
But the other piece of how Litera looks at data is around that content within the document management system or within those client matters or within the different data repositories that you’ve gotten. How can we best bring that data to your users at the appropriate time across the different disciplines that you’ve got within your organization?
Yeah. So, I think, you know, empowering people while they work, where technology is, is the empowering piece to it. You know, I’m not sure when this is actually going to air, but we are absolutely having a virtual summit that we did in years prior to base off The Changing Lawyer, which is the publication that we put together yearly, really as a sounding board to the industry. But I’ll be running a session that is all about successful adoption stories. And one of the individuals that I’m having on there speaks to the fact that technology’s not actually going to drive your business forward into all of the successful goals that you need.
There’s going to have to be layered in with people and processing and a variety of different strategy and business intelligence and so forth. But it can hinder your ability to do that right. If technology is disruptive to people, they won’t be using it.
And there’s a variety of different studies that we have seen on how disruptive distractions can be. You actually spend more time getting back to the tasks that you are working on or how if there’s multiple ways to accomplish something, someone will take a different route and actually find a third way of doing things.
So, I think as we start thinking about technology clicks, data behind it, it really is all about complementing the way that someone is working. And, you know, to kind of bring this full circle. It really does go beyond just the amount of event because you can’t tell anything from that.
It’s not constructive insight someone could be lost versus someone could actually be incredibly proficient and going through all of the results. So, you know, it’s exciting when customers are recognizing that they can share this data with us that it’s securely transferred.
It is not, you know, sharing anything that that is concerning. I had it’s probably not a great plug for this, but I did have someone say so. Facebook knows far more about my users than you do. Oh, yeah, absolutely.
But now might not be the time to make that a great analogy. But you know, that’s I think, why we encourage our customers to opt into this program and take advantage of it.
Yeah. And I’ll piggyback on what Matt was saying.
They’re kind of going towards adoption a bit too because I do think data lends itself nicely into adoption. But you know, as we look at the data, another piece we’re always looking at is kind of where we’re centralizing our applications is where do our users spend most of their time?
If you’re an attorney at your tip again, here’s I live in Outlook where I live. In Microsoft Word, those are from our perspective. Those are the two biggest things now. We don’t necessarily so we can assume some of the uses tracking we have can’t say what kind of device or what office version they might be located.
That’s important to us because what we also hear from our customer base is, you know, I’ve got 400 applications at my disposal. I don’t know what all these things do. I just like to live in Outlook and Word to get my job done.
I don’t want to leave this ecosystem. So, a lot of our design and thought process not only is data driven from usage data, but around that idea that we shouldn’t change a particular person’s workflow or make them leave that ecosystem that they’re very comfortable with, which is why you’ll see the predominant amount of our applications will plug in to Outlook. Or we’ll plug in to Word. And you know, we it will largely be an augmentation of a current workflow and enhancements to workflow, not a change and workflow.
Yeah. You know, it’s actually a great segue into kind of where I envisioned this, this podcast going, but it gives me an opportunity to speak some of the historical aspects of things. But Microsystems, one of the products that makes up Litera today, one of its originating products is called DocXtools, was still on the market today. It absolutely provides value, but almost at a surgical level, right?
It’s going into the markup language of the document and making those changes as you need them. And the robustness and the power of that application is absolutely through the roof. But you often find that someone who needed to use that application had to have a bit more of a Word expertise than this just content focus. And a perfect example behind that is you make a change to the document with DocXtools. You may not be able to undo those changes, right? It was done very surgically, and someone who is focused on the substance of the document may be fearful of saying, well, I didn’t like what was done, so I’m just going to close this down without saving it right. They’re fearful that they lost work, billable work in the time that they spent. And in hearing that DocXtools, a lot of the times that we had support cases that came in DocXtools had a clear way that it needed to be utilized right.
To some extent, we were dictating the way that you should be using the technology. We called ourselves Word experts at the time, and we found that it resulted in a very low usage from the attorney population. So, in hearing that and in in in parallel to a couple of other conversations that we’re having with our customers, we developed this DocXtools Companion product that you just mentioned there. And one of the key features behind that is that it supports the undo aspect, the undo buffer where we can make 150-200 changes to the document. But if someone does not like that, it’s very easy to wind it back.
In fact, it even supports things like track changes so that someone can get a visual representation of what’s changing in the content, right? And that that made it clear shift from dictating how people should use technology into complimenting the way that we know lawyers need to work and all of their, you know, the checkpoints that they need along the way. So, as we give that back story and we talked about some of the pieces, to DocXtools Companion, I start to think about how the success behind DocXtools Companion is less about correlating it to DocXtools use or providing it as like a lighter version of DocXtools.
But it’s actually provided an immense amount of value to our customers who are using our Contract Companion or our Litigation Companion tool where it is focused on surfacing inconsistencies or concerns and then DocXtools Companion as a successor in the workflow to that.
It’s all about making those corrections. So maybe, Matt, you could kind of go into some detail from a product perspective about what we’ve released that combine those two applications and how we kind of came to all of that. Sure. All that insight.
Yeah. So, I think Matt mentioned DocXtools that that is still a workhorse for us, absolutely still has a lot of value within legal. But what we also saw in from just from an industry market perspective is you had more and more millennial generation attorneys coming into the workforce.
These are folks that grew up with technology and want technology to assist them while they do their jobs. So, we created lighter weight versions more geared towards geared towards that group that would be Contract Companion, that would be the DocXtools Companion application.
So that’s why we built those applications. There was more and more of a need as we saw that shift really not just in legal but in the workforce in general. Again, that kind of tech focused individual coming into the market, and you’ll see more and more of that from our stuff coming out.
There’s a lot of is very lawyer focused, still sort of still have a ton of technology for the full legal teams. But a lot of lawyer focused products. Well, when we built those applications, we built them separately initially, right?
And that was our hypothesis then. You know, you live, and you learn in hindsight, you know, building them together and what we’re doing now is bringing them together is the right move. But historically it was. I just have a proofreading application.
And then when I’m done proofreading, I’ll move over to this, this review or this repair application or we’re seeing more and more is drafting doesn’t necessarily have a clear, concise start and end, really unique kind of a holistic drafting experience.
And kind of my statement on that is that’s directionally game where you’ll see Litera’s drafting products is really bringing everything together from a holistic drafting experience, not a proofreading experience, but a drafting experience. And you start to see that with Litera Check and so what Litera Check did was we listened to our customer base again and we built an application that brought together both proofreading and repairing capabilities into a single installation and integration that really helped a couple of different personas.
One the lawyer focused user. I have everything I need to proofread and repair a document regardless of where I might be in my drafting workflow. But from a law firm I.T. perspective, we hear from these folks a lot too. And, you know, they’re incredibly busy. As I mentioned, over 400 plus applications, they’re managing. So, if we can reduce the number of installers, installation keys and those types of things, that’s a huge benefit to them.
And Litera Check brought together Contract Companion, Litigation Companion, DocXtools Companion actually and Best Authority, which are all separate installers with separate installation keys merging into a single product, single installer, single user experience benefiting both the lawyer, the law firm support teams, as well as the I.T. folks who have to manage and deploy these applications.
You know, I think, you know, when we speak to the consolidation of our technology and we’re probably I don’t I guarantee it does not demonstrate that level of detail has gone into that. We are thinking about different personas.
We are about improving performance and making sure that overhead of it teams is easier and that the usage in the adoption is much more organic. And when using the technology and even say you’re a little bit harsh on the hindsight being that these products should have been deployed together.
I also think there’s a part of the market which may pertain to your comment about millennials and those in the younger generation coming in. But when we had a product, the previous product to Contract Companion called Eagle Eye, and I would show that to individuals who are focused on legal substance.
They love the idea of it surfacing and showing concerns. But they said, do not let it touch my content, right? So, it did take it did take a period of time where people got to a point where they recognized technology can do this far quicker than I can. I don’t have to have that level of expertise. I can track what it’s doing. But now I can’t go and show our proofreading solution without someone asking, OK, well, how do I quickly fix that? Where’s the either, you know, the automatic fix or the automation that that comes to follow.
So, as you know, as we look at potentially getting to the time here and on and on the session, where do you see the applications going forward over the next couple of years, right? We’ve talked to data really driving where we are today.
We are still continuing to bring other products together in our in our portfolio and our line, very similar to what we did with Litera Check. But you also kind of touched on this whole drafting experience in this kind of concept. So, as we think about the user experience and the innovation in the drafting space, where do you see it going and where are your aspirations in regard to that?
Sure. So, I mean, long term, you know, the applications are bought and looked at as world class enterprise grade applications.
So, to back that, I think we have great applications today, but continue to innovate and keep up with the latest technologies will look to create more reusable technology from the application. So right now, a lot of things are more monolithic applications.
The interfaces and the processes that they run are tied together more closely. If you separate the application from the business logic and the interface that allows us to be more agnostic to where we can, those applications can be consumed, and we like that and our customers are asking us more and more for that.
And what I specifically mean by that is if we’re creating like a web service back end that allows us to create any front-end application, we want that could give your users access to something like DocXtools Companion at the desktop level, as well as on an iPad, allows us to create any front-end application we want. Will we still understand that legal wants the flexibility to install things on premise, have hosted options and will always have that flexibility because we have big and small customers that are in different stages of, you know, having security concerns and those types of issues.
So, a reusable, reusable architecture is an absolute core focus for us, which really unlocks the ability to give you access to these drafting applications from anywhere on any device. It also, if you know, most likely, most people listening are aware that we’re in multiple business units that are in the drafting business yet.
But those reusable architectures are also advantages to our other business units Firm Intelligence, as an example, could use our create capabilities or Transaction Management could use our comparison capabilities within their applications. So again, regardless of where you’re drafting experience may start, you’ll have access to some of your favourite features and functions and capabilities of drafting within those other platforms. The other piece is just bringing the drafting experience, unifying, and creating the optimal drafting user experience. You know, as we’ve continued to acquire companies, that’s all been under the umbrella to create the best drafting experience, you know, historically, as we were smaller and had more singular applications. You know, we would talk about things around proofreading and then moving to compare and now moving to repair. You’ll hear more and more. We’re just talking about the drafting experience than a particular proofreading experience as an example.
So, bringing the applications together to a unified drafting experience to best enhance, you know, things like adoption and usage of the applications is a core focus for us as we move forward.
Yeah, it’s really all about the path of least resistance, right? Rather than moving from product to product, it seems like one experience. And I think that’s whether you’re talking about extensibility to other areas of our, our technology or other devices or other ways that people are accomplishing those tasks.
If it’s just second nature to them and it belongs there, they don’t have to think about it. And the usage behind that is pretty high. In fact, I guess kind of circling back to the whole data point here.
The market has probably seen us talk about Litera Desktop for a period of time now. I mean, the data behind that shows that that is the consumption model, right when individuals do not need to think about logistically where they need to go because it just chronologically flows for them.
That is that path of least resistance, right? So, we see the amount of technology, the amount of products, the amount of time spent in our applications as they progress through, they’re beginning to grow and it’s five or six times the way it is when it’s consumed by a product individually.
So, I think we’re kind of at the mark here. I think that’s a great way to end with some data in regard to the direction that we’re going and how that’s still being validated. I feel like with two Matts in the room who are both dads and, on a podcast, called LegalTech Matters, there’s only one thing to do. But and with the dad joke on how we put the mat in matters, right?
You couldn’t have said it better Matt. All right. Well, we thank you all for listening and we hope to have a subsequent session.
But hopefully you found the database conversation and what we’ve done with products like Litera Check and the direction that we’re going off the drafting experience here at Litera useful and beneficial, and we’ll talk to you next time. Thank you all.
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