In 2021, law firms, consulting agencies, real estate agencies, and other professional services firms are working fast to digitally transform and enable remote collaboration in a highly regulated work environment. Take these situations for example:
- Law firms must be seamlessly connected while ensuring the confidentiality of all records and communications (i.e. intellectual property, case files, business records). With customers spread across the globe, cybersecurity is more important than ever.
- Consulting agencies must work around travel limitations by embracing creative new methods of client engagement and advisory.
- Applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) like Natural Language Processing (NPL), Machine Learning (ML), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Speech Recognition are crucial for delivering more efficient, cost-effective client services and identifying new value-added activities.
- Firms need to move fast to solve root causes of data inefficiencies and create actionable insights that improve client services. Remote/at-home employees must also have secure access to data to collaborate around these key insights.
- As firms seek efficiencies and look for complementary businesses to acquire, the ability to quickly integrate operations has become a major competitive advantage.
The professional services industry is reimagining the role of technology in how business now gets done. Investment in digital transformation and remote collaboration will only continue as firms adapt to a new norm of business and client relations.
The future of work in professional services
Proven to survive and even thrive in a world of social distancing, professional services firms are facing an irrevocable new future of work. Employees in real estate, for example, agree they would prefer to work from home at least 3-4 days a week on a permanent basis. Leading law firms like U.S.-based Husch Blackwell and Australia-based Slater and Gordon have decided to permanently enact their remote work policies. Unified Communications – specifically, Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) – is crucial in this retooling.
Work-from-home business models have only further accelerated the adoption of UCaaS in professional services, with consulting agencies experiencing some of the highest growth rates. UCaaS enables firms to collaborate more seamlessly and efficiently to continue delivering what’s needed:
- Live video and audio enable law firms to hold client meetings, complete depositions, and perform other critical tasks without ever having to gather in-person.
- Real-time communications gives real estate agents a reliable way of interacting with buyers, developing leads, and keeping client relationships strong. Video conferencing has become the new norm for virtual open houses and showings.
- Agency execs can keep in constant contact with teams and colleagues – anytime, anywhere, using any device.
- File sharing and annotations enable lawyers, real estate agents and others to keep track of important notes and documents as they handle multiple cases and clients.
- Call recording enables lawyers, agencies, and consultants to keep track of administrative needs like billable hours and revisit calls for transcribing, with the ability to store recordings in specific client or business folders.
A disruptive new norm requires a supercharged network
Organizations have no choice but to transform their network as they navigate the new normal – least of all professional services firms. Law firms and consulting agencies with a historically small number of remote employees must now support their entire workforce needing to connect to applications remotely 24×7. Bandwidth-intensive UCaaS applications like video conferencing have skyrocketed and will only continue to, straining the network and creating unprecedented security threats. The year 2020 has become a real-life case study for a high-performing, security-first network – a.k.a. a Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN).
SD-WAN strengthens UCaaS application performance and delivers the level of agility, flexibility, security, and AI-powered automation that professional services firms need moving forward. Over 90% of companies are bundling UCaaS with network security services for this reason.
The business case for bundling UCaaS with SD-WAN for professional services is clear:
- Make connectivity quick and easy for remote employees with SD-WAN while delivering crystal-clear communications with embedded UCaaS.
- Support high-quality video conferencing with a broad range of collaboration functionality as video meetings and virtual client sessions become the new norm.
- Manage communications and the network on your terms using one portal for visibility across all locations and links.
- Use AI to analyze network performance and optimize bandwidth utilization.
- Get deep network visibility with built-in AIOps (an intelligent virtual network assistant), Shadow IT Discovery (comprehensive cloud application assessment), and per-user WAN analytics.
- Built-in firewalls and 24×7 threat monitoring and response services detect security events in your network the moment they arise anywhere in the world.
- Unite longstanding legacy systems in a way that accelerates time-to-value.
Protect your remote workers’ data (and your firm’s reputation) with continued high-quality service
Communications are indispensable, but so are network performance and security. Over 60% of organizations that are satisfied with their UCaaS deployment are also using SD-WAN. Bundling the two provides high performance, global availability, and the simplicity of built-in security features in one cloud service with one management portal for both UC and the network.
Learn more about Masergy UCaaS with SD-WAN for professional services.