If you are familiar with this blog, you are aware that at Bellefield we are passionate about innovation in legal technology. As the first company to design and bring to market timekeeping for the Apple Watch, we understand the impact of wearables and mobile technologies have on an attorney’s productivity.
Whether at home, meeting with clients, or on vacation, attorneys are always working. However, as the practice of True Mobility becomes increasingly more important for attorneys and their firms, a new device has entered the picture and has placed mobility center stage. Meet the wearable, the device changing attorney mobility as we know it.
What Wearables Mean to Attorneys
In case you are not familiar with the term wearable technology, here’s a great definition from Webopedia:
“Wearable technology (also called wearable gadgets) is a category of technology devices that can be worn by a consumer and often include tracking information related to health and fitness. Other wearable tech gadgets include devices that have small motion sensors to take photos and sync with your mobile devices.”
Examples on the market that you might be familiar with include the FitBit, JawBone, Pebble Watch and, most recently, the Apple Watch. The introduction of smart watches, like the Apple Watch, means that for the first time the apps that we use on our smartphones or tablets are always available within our line of site (shouldn’t it be sight???). For attorneys, this creates a compelling opportunity to leverage mobility for productivity and efficiency.
While attorneys aren’t typically known as early adopters of technology (and the smartwatch is definitely in the early stages of adoption), the smartwatch is appealing to attorneys because it presents a comfortable and convenient way to stay connected to the activities that take place on their mobile device at all times (even those where glancing at a mobile device is inappropriate). With a smartwatch, attorneys are able to keep up with important communications, calendar alerts and other notifications that would otherwise require the use of their mobile phone. For attorneys, the ability to do something better, faster and smarter is a priority. Wearables enhance productivity in this regard. Furthermore, the introduction of enterprise mobile apps for the legal industry, such as mobile timekeeping, now allows attorneys to work the way that they work - from their wrist.
Additionally, the trend in smartphones (or phablets, as they are often referred) is a larger screen size to accommodate the wide span of activities carried out through mobile apps. Even for attorneys, a recent report demonstrated that smartphones are replacing personal computers, which means that the smartphone needs to comfortably and reliably carry out the functions formerly performed on the PC. The issue is that smartphone usage can be a bit unwieldy - to use it, you need to take it out of your pocket, where it sits alongside your wallet, keys, and whatever else you may have—or worse yet, dig for it in your purse or handbag. A smartwatch, on the other hand, is always on your wrist.
Why the Smartwatch is Here to Stay
One thing that we have learned over the years working in the legal technology field is that there is a gross misunderstanding about why attorney tech adoption lags. Contrary to popular believe, attorneys are not tech dinosaurs that are incapable of learning new technology. The reason that many attorneys may resist new technology changes, however, is that they’ve been burned in the past. A busy attorney simply doesn’t want to spend time learning new technology that requires a massive effort to understand and get started on - especially if there is a lack of perceived value.
You might remember our discussions around activation energy: the amount of output required for a person to get started using a new technology. Smart watches, such as the Apple Watch and its apps have a very low activation energy, which means that attorneys are able to immediately begin using the devices productively, with minimal (or no) training. The point here is that the smartwatch is easy for attorneys to adopt in order to unlock the value. The value proposition includes increases in efficiency and productivity across the blurry lines of work and life.
How long will it take for smartwatches to become standard among the general public? That remains to be seen. But for attorneys, smartwatches are quickly becoming a staple, and will only become more so as time goes on.
The Future of Timekeeping
One key function that will drive attorney adoption and engagement of the smartwatch is the ability to keep time contemporaneously through a mobile timekeeping app on the device. This is the ultimate practice of contemporaneous time entry.
Timekeeping is moving away from the desktop computer and even the need to rely on the attorney’s assistant, to being possible on a mobile device, to now be a function that will be carried out exclusively on mobile devices. The smartwatch allows attorneys to keep time effortlessly, as they carry out their work and personal lives (and let’s face it, there isn’t much of a separation between the two, these days). Many of us only check Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via our mobile devices. Timekeeping is similar and as a function is increasingly more mobile.
What do you think? Do the attorneys at your firm use a smart watch to record their time? Share your comments below.