If the reports we’re reading are true, 2014 will be a year where we continue to march toward mobility and “smarter” smart devices, the cloud will be everywhere in our professional and personal lives, and the PC will truly become passé. Of course, technologies rarely materialize out of nowhere, so most of the major trends to watch right now have origins that go back years. But new offerings will bring these technologies to the tipping point, where they will impact your personal and business technology in more ways than you might have guessed.

A few weeks ago, we sent out a survey to thought leaders and influencers in the legal technology space, to get their opinions on when, where and how they plan on adopting new technologies throughout the rest of the year and beyond. We received a 20 percent response rate and compiled the results below.

What current technology helps you do your job better?
Almost everyone surveyed responded with a mobile solution, and the iPad in particular scored high points. Other responses included Keynote, Omnigraffle, Evernote, and other cloud-based solutions.

What do you see as the biggest driver influencing change in technology?
The majority of people responded that the cloud was the biggest driver. Other answers included the ease in which new companies can pop up overnight with very little startup costs , pressure from law firm clients, increased competition amongst law firms, entrepreneurial innovation, data analytics, mobility (“the desire to be able to use technology from virtually any location on virtually any device and operating system.”), turnover of technology every three months, and making things smaller, simpler and more mobile (“I see consumer tech creating business tech expectations – we want things to be as simple, mobile, and small as our personal tech and apps.”)

What technology do you wish you had that doesn’t exist now?
More wearable technology was popular. Other answers included fully anticipatory computing, high-speed secure internet access everywhere, gesture-based interaction design built into tools (i.e., technology that disables cars from driving when the driver is holding a cell phone), better collaborative applications that might include visual, audio and text, an iPad that truly does everything a work PC does (MS Office, file storage), multiple videoconferencing (like Google hangouts) that easily connects to work collaborators,  and something that networks across all the social networks (i.e., a Facebook account can connect with someone’s WhatsApp account, etc.)

Similarly, what technology do you wish you could stuff back in the bottle?
Surprisingly, most respondents said they wouldn’t get rid of any technologies if they could. A majority of people also stated that email, while a necessary evil, can be too overwhelming and controlling. Other answers included fax, spam software and other scammer gear, personalized ads that display on websites based on previous pages you’ve visited, and text messages in favor of an app like WhatsApp.

Which app could you not live without?
While most people said they could live without any app, the camera was given an overwhelming shout out. Other answers included Zite, WhatsApp, iPhoto, Accuweather, Google Search (“It makes my iPhone an extension of my brain (or vice versa)”), LinkedIn, and Waze.

What technology trend do you see going away in 2015?
Most people agreed that mobile apps that are not cross-platform will be going away next year and beyond. Others said old school “dumb” phones, fear of the cloud, Google Glass (“unless they can figure out a way for people to not stare at it and bump into people”), and nothing at all (“several things that have been around for a while will be less significant, such as laptop computers).

Have you had a serious conversation with your family or a colleague about a digital-free vacation this year?
85 percent of the respondents said no to this question.

Thanks to technology, the average worker needs to work a mere 11 hours per week to produce as much as someone who worked 40 hours per week in 1950, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Do you think most people would be happier if they had less technology and a lower standard of living, but more time? Why?
The majority of respondents answered “no” to this question, stating that technology improves family and work time because of how easy and reliable it is. Other answers included:

  • “Probably – but then again, I love what I do, so I don’t mind being hyper-connected.”
  • “Not now. The economy is still struggling.”
  • “No, because we rely on technology not just as workers, but as consumers. We may need to work fewer hours to produce more, but although technology has made some tasks easier, it has added complexity to others and created a whole set of brand new tasks and roles. And people are expected to work more hours thanks to the technology-enabled work-life blur. We also use technology to communicate, to find information and entertainment and to buy products and services. Having more technology doesn’t give you less time; it gives you more options and I don’t think anyone would want fewer options.”
  • “As much as I love technology, it is a double-edged sword. It has definitely robbed us of time to reflect, to contemplate and to disappear for a day or even an hour.”
  • “Absolutely. As a former law firm attorney, the expectations are so high to respond quickly and accurately. While delivery of work product was slower, I think that attorneys have tools to work faster, but commit more mistakes and are less thoughtful about work.”
  • “I think a lot depends on whether the people who are around you (who matter most to you) have a similar standard of living and a similar amount of time available. But yes, I think the average stress level for “normal life” is higher because of the speed expectations that are so prevalent now.”

Finally, what part of your life is better for being technology enabled (respondents could pick more than one)?
Work – 85%
Leisure – 70%
Home/Family – 62%

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