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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Will SaaS Ligitation Support Tools Change the Litigation Vendor Landscape?

In a recent article about SaaS Litigiation Support Tools on, Brett Burney writes that the new generation of online tools such as Lexbe and ImageDepot that are delivered under the new architecture called Software-as-a-Service are an appealing alternative to the standard more expensive and combursome solutions such as Summation and Concordance that have been on the market for years. real equalizer for small to medium sized law firms. In the same artilce, Cliff Shnier, an e-discovery expert and consultant who has written on this topic in the past, states, "SaaS litigation databases to be something of an equalizer for small and big litigation firms. He muses that while smaller firms may not enjoy the resources of their larger counterparts, using a SaaS litigation database could level the playing field and make the smaller firm more attractive to a big corporate client."

If you read this blog on a regulary basis, you will know that I am a big fan of SaaS technology and therefore agree with Brett's conclusions. However, I would take it a step further by pointing out that SaaS tools will quickly outpace the older competitors in the market with their inherent ability to quickly and easily add very sophistiacted features and functions and to also support very customized look and feels for every single user. This capability, referred to as extensibility is a standard feature of a true multi-teannet and self provisioning SaaS application and is literally impossible for older competitors build on client server applications and serverd up under a Citrix or similiar technology to support. There is no doubt that they can mimic these capabilities with cumbersome code fixes and write arounds. We have already seen several vendors come out with online solutions of their client server tools.

However, the very nature of their older code base is such that over time they will just flat not be able to keep up unless they undergo an expensive and client disrupting rewrite. And, once a software vendor does down this path, they open up their customer base to seek newer technologies. It's a model that has repeated itself time after time in the software industry and has spelled doom for many a software company that couldn't keep with the inevitable cycle of new technology.

As such, in the months to come, you will begin to see the new Litigation Support SaaS vendors quickly gaining marketshare and overshadow the older software players in the industry. I predictd that it will completely change the landscape of ligitaiton software vendors.

In the weeks to come, I will post a more detailed discussion of this topic along with some predictions of who will survive, who will not survive and what it will mean for Litigation Support software users.

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