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ILTA 2011 with N00b Eyes…A First-Timer’s Account of the Grand Ole Experience

August 30, 2011

“You’ve never been to ILTA before? Really?” I shook my head, answering the question for the hundredth time. “What do you think?”

I keep quiet as I mentally work through possible answers. My previous experience has been limited to a few comic book conventions and the massive, annual geek fest that is GenCon. A few potential responses come to mind. “I see more iPads at ILTA and fewer costumes” “2,400 legal professionals and vendors make nearly the same amount of noise as 40,000 gamers.” I settle with, “I think I should have started coming here several years ago.”

I found speaking at ILTA both an honor and a pleasure. However, I appreciated attending various sessions and listening to the words of firms and other vendors; equally. The value of the ILTA conference stems from the opportunity to interact and share experiences with colleagues, people who have been there, done that, or are heading there and doing it now.

As a first-timer, I came away with a number of thoughts…in no particular order:

  • Open source solutions have moved into law firms in unexpected ways. I heard IT Directors describe installing open source firewalls, document management systems and search indexers. Their low cost and ease of implementation make certain OS solutions very appealing for special projects or purposes. The recent purchase of Autonomy by HP sparked interest in Alfresco, an open source DMS.
  • Firm culture continues to define Best Practice. I found all of the lessons learned sessions regarding the move to Office 2010 and Windows 7 just fascinating. Firms seem to look to this migration as the opportunity to respond to long-standing issues and pain points they’ve suffered through for some time. For some firms, this might lead to locking down a desktop. Others have decided to loosen control. Turning off Windows 7 Desktop Search works at a few places, but not everywhere. There might be one correct way to apply numbering in a Word document. There are many “correct” Office 2010 configuration settings.
  • Microsoft plans to take over the World, but in a good way. I am intrigued by the thought of the same version of Windows 8 running on my desktop, my smart phone and my X-Box 360. As much as I love my iDevices, managing them at an enterprise-level takes a good deal of effort. A totally unified platform, with the same group of management tools, could certainly simplify things for administrators and provide a consistent interface for users.
  • Social media takes a lot of effort to maintain. Listening to Teresa Burnett from Deer & Company opened my eyes to the new challenges companies face in maintaining a positive image in the rapidly shifting environment of modern social media. It’s not a press release to a daily or monthly news cycle anymore. It’s constant monitoring, learning when to respond and when to hold off.

I greatly appreciated my time at ILTA this year, and I hope to make it an annual trip from now on. Thank you to all the ILTA staff, officers and volunteers for making it a valuable and fun experience for all.

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