Industry interview

Industry interview

Growing ahead

Andy Baldin, new vice president of international sales at NetDocuments, gives his early take on where the business is today, plans for significant expansion, and the many possibilities of legal process transformation

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May 2021 was a month of new arrivals for cloud-based content and productivity platform NetDocuments, specialist in supporting both leading law firms and large corporate legal departments to progress multiple aspects of their work more efficiently wherever they are.

The business welcomed Warburg Pincus as a new growth investor to join Cove Hill Partners – and Andy Baldin arrived from the multi-sector IT security and service automation platform Ivanti (focused on ‘everywhere’ access) as new vice president of international sales.

“Warburg Pincus represents a great new partner as we focus growth on UK, EMEA and APAC,” says Baldin – which are his own territories of key focus. “The investment will accelerate us both organically and through M&A, providing tremendous potential not only to strengthen existing customer relationships, but also to tap into new opportunities and markets to become the foundational software for legal professionals.”

He mentions Germany, the Benelux, Nordics, New Zealand and Singapore – as well as the UK of course – as receiving particular attention within his strategy and set for additional business development resource; however, sets no limit on what could be achieved in terms of building on today’s solid base of 3,150 customers – half of whom, he says, have switched from competitor solutions.

“For me this is all about capitalising on our reputation and momentum in the market, helping law firms to move to a true SaaS document management solution, which delivers a secure, efficient way of storing and accessing their documents. We can extend these services across the whole legal market – the solutions apply to any law firm or legal department, irrespective of size.”

Products of the time

Baldin also joins the team at a time when NetDocuments is seeking to help its customers to manage and anticipate more challenges than ever. The year 2020 saw its ‘Work Inspired’ strategy, grouping complementary solutions – from email to legal task management – under the umbrella operational-efficiency imperatives of Organise, Protect, Plan, Deliver and Learn.

“We are continually working to match the evolving work habits of modern professionals, with a focus on collaboration, efficiency and risk management,” says Baldin. Most recent additions to the collection include the Microsoft Teams integration ChatLink – connecting conversation channels with NetDocuments workspaces for better governance and productivity simultaneously – and a collaboration with BA Insight, NetKnowledge, to streamline enterprise search across a firm’s many repositories.

My initial impression is that decisions are made carefully when it comes to investment, and change doesn’t come easily to some. A technology change involves a lot more than just implementing it – there’s the whole area of change management that needs to be addressed, which many organisations don’t do in its entirety. You need to prepare people for what will happen and make clear why it’s a change for good

There’s also a significant investment in extracting analytics from the system. “We can now deliver ‘at a glance’ insights into how users interact with their content, in order to better analyse and understand user activity and behaviour and enhance adoption,” he explains.

“I believe NetDocuments is truly built with the lawyer in mind. The evolving needs of clients, including data jurisdiction requirements, mean lawyers need to be able to access information quickly, easily and safely at any time, from any device – and with the rise of digitalisation and working practices changing dramatically in response to Covid-19, this flexibility has become even more prevalent.

“So now more than ever there’s a need for a modern, cloud-based DMS. Our customers can’t be wrong about that – NetDocuments added more than two new customers per day in 2020. There are so many advocates of the solution in the customer base that it has reinforced my impression of its quality, and also of the people delivering it.”

Indeed, Baldin has been pleasantly surprised, he says, at just how willing senior stakeholders at customers have been to meet with him early on, as well as publicly discuss the difference the technology is making to working life.

“New and existing customers alike are realising the major advantage of moving to a true, single-instance cloud solution, which does not require migrating, upgrading from older software versions, or relying on vulnerable and underperforming VPNs; something that can translate to an IT nightmare, especially in the midst of a changed work environment and shift to working from home. New functionality will simply appear for them, and users don’t need to worry about learning something new.”

The context of the pandemic has clearly changed some firms’ collective views of the merits of a technology investment – but what does a relative newcomer to the market see? “I do think many are realising that what has got them this far won’t necessarily get them to where they really want to be,” Baldin says. “However, there are some nuances to this market. My initial impression is that decisions are made carefully when it comes to investment, and change doesn’t come easily to some.” But he admits this is understandable. “A technology change involves a lot more than just implementing it – there’s the whole area of change management that needs to be addressed, which many organisations don’t do in its entirety. You need to prepare people for what will happen and make clear why it’s a change for good.

“Corporate legal departments with shareholders appear able to move quicker in general, whereas at law firms the disruption of a change is potentially significant for delivery. The progressive firms have CIOs that can create the business case to invest in new technology quickly to increase their competitiveness in the market, but there has to be real value in the solutions they invest in.”

He continues: “The challenges are similar, in many ways, to those at other businesses at a high level – namely, security of information, ability to work from anywhere and efficiency of the workforce. The difference lies in the types of technologies required to deliver that. For law firms, it’s all about providing an environment where employees are able to work on information, individually or in groups, for specific matters, and ensure all information associated with those matters is securely stored, in the right places, with access only to those authorised to see it, whether internal to the organisation or external consultants hired for specific matters.”

The people prized

But Baldin adds that people matter as much as products, and this factor also attracted him to the NetDocuments mission. After 13 years building up Ivanti’s success – to an eventual sales team of 150 – both the culture and contact points here remind him of his early days.

“There is a sense of everyone being in it together and sharing responsibility and success. Many of our team have also come from a legal background, some being qualified lawyers – including our chief product officer – which provides real-life insights into the needs of law firms and legal teams.”

And as well as fresh perspective, he believes one of his own key strengths will be bringing in more new faces and forging teams that are just as strong in the next chapter of the NetDocuments story.

“I’m a great believer in working with partners as well – resellers, managed services providers and independent software vendors. Our partners are an integral part of our ability to grow the business, and we continue to recruit in the countries mentioned.” They can also play a pivotal role in steering successful change management for clients, he says.

“My intention is not to have hundreds of partners everywhere, but work with those that see the value NetDocuments can add to their portfolios of solutions and who want to work closely with us to deliver that to customers and prospects.

“As a result, we’re continuing to evolve our partner programme by launching a new portal for a complete partner experience – adding more sales and technical enablement tools for them; enhancing co-marketing efforts; and offering higher commission models for growing partnerships. In addition, the partner team is working feverishly on forging additional strategic partnerships and strategic integrations into the NetDocuments cloud platform.”

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