Dave Wilson, Managing Director and Founder of Tiger Eye Consulting has worked in the professional services IT field for most of his career, with his involvement with Document Management Systems starting early on in his profession. Tiger Eye – leading iManage Partner for Knowledge and Technical Expertise – have been iManage Partners since the company’s inception in 2005, when Dave left a senior role at iManage to start his own customer-centric IT organisation, offering ‘expertise, from the team that listens’ with a signature partnership approach to IT.
Dave continues to drive the growth of Tiger Eye, who are trusted by clients across the globe including leading law firms for solutions, services and consultancy. Tiger Eye’s uniquely comprehensive range of solutions and services for iManage includes managed implementations, migrations and customisations, as well as training, consultancy, technical support, custom development services and out-of-the-box bolt-on iManage tools. In addition to overseeing operations, Dave continues to steer Tiger Eye’s product development, working closely with the users of Tiger Eye Blueprint (Tiger Eye’s Knowledge Management system for the iManage DMS) within The Blueprint User Community to continuously innovate the platform.
Dave, take us back to the start – how did your career begin?
Initially, I worked as an electronic engineering apprentice for an organisation that formed a part of the Ministry of Defence. During this time, I worked with great mentors and colleagues, learning a lot about people and business. During the apprenticeship I got some experience of working with computers, and something just clicked. From there, I moved into computing and for most of my career I have worked in the technology space.
My first role after my apprenticeship was with a technology company that focused on document filming and imaging. The company introduced a standalone scanned DMS, but it wasn’t networked, and I had the idea that if it was networked, it would be more effective. Although networking itself was in its infancy they gave me the go-ahead and we managed to get it working and had some success with it. So, my involvement with the Document management System really did start early on in my career.
The project sparked my interest, and before long I was exploring the market and interviewed for a role as a reseller of a product called Netright. So, I made the move from scanned to digital-first documents. Three of us later left the reseller following their acquisition and became iManage UK and focused on the Netright product which was then renamed to iManage. My role focused on the professional technical services side of the business.
I had always wanted to start my own company. After the iManage UK team merged with Interwoven in 2003, I decided to go out on my own and test my theory that the iManage DMS could be just as effective for other non-legal markets, such as governments, construction companies etc.
Although we have supported a broad range of organisations to adopt iManage (including finance, property and media organisations), what became clear was that the iManage DMS was extremely popular in the legal space, as it grew to become what it is today – the leading DMS for the legal market. So, given the product’s synergy with legal, we expanded the organisation and built on our capabilities as a centre of legal technology excellence. From there, together with my wife as Admin Services Director, we organically grow the business and create opportunities for local people, investing the profits back into the business. We continue to operate in this way today.
Can you tell us some more about Tiger Eye and what you do?
At Tiger Eye, we support professional services organisations with their document, email and knowledge needs. Our in-house team is uniquely structured to support businesses through the entire DMS adoption cycle, from system selection through to DMS customisation, implementation, launch, management and optimisation. As well as services, we also offer a comprehensive range of out-of-the-box bolt-on tools for iManage, including solutions for improved efficiency, security and mobility such as iManage template management, eSigning, archiving, decryption and much more.
Although we are UK-based and headquartered in Norwich, we’re known globally for our in-depth understanding of the iManage solution, our technical expertise and our customer service. Tiger Eye began as a consultancy business, and whilst our range of services has expanded a lot over the years, our entire team of yahoo staff still operate with a consultative approach in all areas of the business. This means that we start with a client need or pain point and work with them to find the right solution for their organisation, following the people, process, technology model for sustained client and vendor relationships – rather than short-term sales.
We are passionate about enabling organisations to build on their DMS infrastructure for collaboration and innovation. With this, we are also well known in the legal technology market for Tiger Eye Blueprint: our iManage Knowledge Management solution designed with law firms, for KM success. Seamlessly integrated with iManage Work, our solution enables firms to effectively store, curate and classify legal know-how and specialist content within a trusted iManage repository.
How and why did you decide to found Tiger Eye?
I had always wanted to start my own business. But, with no investment, and two young children, there were certainly a lot of blockers in my mind about starting my own company. I took a course in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) which helped me understand how to set goals, understand my values and remove limitations in my own thinking. Around 6 months after finishing that course, I was ready to move forward and start Tiger Eye. Quite simply, I used my savings to start the business, then reinvested funds from early consulting engagements to build a reasonable amount of capital in the first year. Then the profits were cyclically reinvested back into the business and used to grow the company.
After the first few years of operations, I realised I needed to be able to offer clients more services. So, I brought in another consultant, a support engineer and a trainer, building a small but comprehensive team to cover most of the types of services that I wanted to deliver. I knew from my time at iManage that customer service is crucial to business success and that it would be essential to Tiger Eye’s operations, so I worked hard to ensure my team had the technical skills and customer service capabilities needed to support the system and our customers.
But, hiring technical talent can be difficult. With this, you’re often competing with much larger organisations who can offer ‘more’. We applied for a business loan through funding circle a few years ago for new hires in order to bring new skillsets into the business, and this did help us to expand significantly. However, when it comes to hiring technical talent, we sometimes have to focus on the individual rather than their specific skillset, as skills can be taught, but personalities and traits can not. We’re passionate about investing in people, and this has helped us to secure the right kind of talent throughout our journey.
As Tiger Eye grew larger, we were able to hire more legal-specific staff, using their experience from the legal environment to understand client needs and organisational thinking.
Relationships are all about mutual respect, whether working with partners, vendors or clients. We’ve always tried to show respect for time constraints, priorities and personal goals, and I hope that our clients can see the enthusiasm and energy that the team invests into our working relationships.
How did you scale Tiger Eye?
When making the move from an individual consultant to a team, the primary focus was on culture. It was critical to ensure that newly onboarded staff understood the mission, and that they were engaged with the strategy. This then filters down to the rest of the organisation as you grow, so the culture is organically maintained. We then found that when our team expanded into departments and subsets, it was necessary to truly invest in staff and their workplace wellbeing. This was when we brought in our PAWS for Wellbeing scheme, for which we were pleased to be awarded a Silver Investors in People award.
In terms of processes, it has always been essential for us to manage, review and update workflows as we have grown. Processes need to be effective, but they also need to be flexible to allow teams to change and grow as new staff and skillsets are brought into departments.
I would have to say that referrals and word of mouth marketing were crucial for scaling our business. As a customer-centric business, we have grown through a trusted advisor approach and are not a sales-focused organisation. This non-traditional approach to development has a snowball effect, enabling us to stay true to our mission and consultative attitude, whilst maintaining momentum.
How do you choose which vendors to partner with?
With most actions at Tiger Eye, client needs drive our decision-making process. Since 2005, we have been designing solutions utilising input from our clients, designing bespoke solutions not just for them, but with them. Using their own pain-points, process difficulties and work product headaches as catalysts, we develop out-of-the-box tools that clearly meet market need – because they were imagined by our clients themselves.
So, a customer will speak to us about a particular issue, pain point or idea they have, and if we can’t solve it in house – or if we feel the need might already be effectively met elsewhere – we will begin searching the market for solutions. From there, we will work to find the right vendor, which means finding the right team, with the right attitude to business. For example, with the pandemic, our clients needed to be able to digitally sign documents, so we partnered with DocuSign. From there, it became clear that clients also wanted to be able to electronically sign documents from within their familiar iManage Workspaces, so we built our iManage/DocuSign integration. So, the partnership and our level of involvement with the partner vendor is all driven by our customers.
We have a range of different industry relationships and vendor partnerships, such as implementation partnerships, integration partnerships, development partnerships and more. But with all of these engagements, trust is critical, and the relationship has to be a win, win, win scenario that benefits Tiger Eye, the partner and the client. This means all parties have to be on board with aligned approaches, aspirations, and values, but with the same customer-centric vision.
However, we do also try to act as a platform for innovation in the legal technology marketplace, giving new players the opportunity to get their foot in the door. With this, our integration partnerships are important, as they enable our partners to combine their state-of-the-art technologies with existing platforms such as iManage, to provide familiarity and security to clients with the added benefit of new capabilities.
How do you stay on top of the various vendor products and how best to implement them?
There is certainly a lot of change in the legal technology space, but this isn’t anything new, and it is always something we have worked with.
Depending on the software vendor and the level of change they’re driving, it can be difficult at times to keep track of the latest developments. So, what we’ve tried to do at Tiger Eye is dedicate resource to every partner and solution stack, allocating time for in-house knowledge exchange around these developments, so that our staff can feed back technical and visionary changes to the team.
Just recently, we’ve also implemented a new rigorous training strategy for staff, with every team member offered their own, curated personal learning plan. With our team given control of their own skills journey, we hope to give our team autonomy over their development.
You also recently launched a Knowledge Management product of your own. Can you tell us about that, and in particular the process of designing and developing your own product?
From the ground up, Blueprint was designed by users, with users in mind.
The Blueprint story began way back in 2015, when our team started working alongside lawyers from a range of firms to learn how they perceived knowledge, how it played a role in their businesses – and how technology could make the collection and sharing of know-how easier.
Carrying out investigative interviews, workshops, focus groups, surveys, and in-depth research on the practice of Knowledge Management, we found that firms needed a tool which would enable them to work smarter with key best practice documents (with security measures maintained) whilst engaging every member of staff with knowledge strategies. In enabling all individuals within the firm to contribute documents to their respective knowledge library, the responsibility – and the benefits – of KM would be shared. And so, in 2016 Blueprint for iManage was born to give law firm iManage users a simple, intuitive and affordable way to work to either build on a structured knowledge strategy or to build one from scratch.
With Blueprint, document nominations are sent directly into Blueprint from iManage Work with all associated metadata and security maintained. Documents can be nominated by all staff, who can then add insight regarding how the documents they used and nominated helped them. These documents are then approved by the firm’s knowledge ‘gatekeepers’, who use the document and the context around it to categorise documents and store them within a curated database, which is then easily searchable by all staff.
With such a forward-thinking practice as Knowledge Management, we at Tiger Eye benefit from community engagement to ensure that Blueprint continues to meet the ever-changing needs of its users.
In 2019, we formally launched Tiger Eye’s Blueprint User Community: our community engagement group focused on driving the future of our KM solution. Welcoming all our clients who use the Blueprint system, we first brought together the User Community in April 2019, where we met at the London-based offices of a Blueprint client firm. We were blown away by the way our users took ownership of the platform and passionately steered its future.
Since then, the Blueprint User Community has grown from strength to strength, with a number of other organisations onboard and more looking to implement the solution in the near future. We continue to meet twice a year to analyse Blueprint, take deep-dives into updates, and most importantly design the product’s future – not just for those within the community as it stands, but for firms who will adopt Blueprint hereafter. With this, our Blueprint User Community are helping to evolve the product they use every day, engaging with the technology that underpins their collaborative success.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing legaltech right now?
The changing workforce, and the ever-evolving nature of work. This means where we work, how we work and who we work with in our roles, with the acceleration of mobility due to the pandemic. However, in this environment and the post-Covid world my advice would be the same as it always has been: empathise with customers and listen to their needs. It’s a conscious practice and a real skill, but it’s got Tiger Eye to where we are today and will drive us to where we want to be.
The changing world of work is also a key challenge for legaltech consultancies, but within this lies a huge opportunity for consultants to help firms drive real, sustainable change within their working practices. However, the pandemic has driven a lot of flux within the vendor marketplace, with new vendors emerging and a number of mergers taking place where smaller providers are being bought out by market leaders. This kind of market ownership reduces the options available to customers, here legaltech consultancies need to make sure they’re actively researching the market and reevaluating what’s out there to best serve their clients.
For many law firms, they have overcome the challenge of remote working but are now looking to finalise their hybrid working models, as they look ahead to the post-Covid landscape. With this, firms will need to iron out what ‘hybrid’ means for them, before they put in place procedures and technologies to enable these new ways of working to be effective. However, effective hybrid working relies on effective knowledge sharing, collaboration and communication. Without effective knowledge sharing solutions, firms risk losing knowledge as it falls through the gaps created between fee-earners and their teams. Without ways to collaborate outside of videoconferencing, firms risk fatiguing their fee-earners with a reliance on synchronous communication and long Zoom calls. Without effective knowledge and information management solutions, organisations create inefficiencies between search and retrieval, in essence ‘blocking’ the informational flow around the business.
IT has been a major focus for firms and all businesses to ensure they can continue with work as usual. However, this has led to an overload on IT teams who can’t focus on the needs of specific departments or user types, as they must use all resources, energy and time on maintaining BAU. So, I have seen many in-house legal teams struggle to get their voices heard at this time, and their specific needs have not been catered for as effectively as they perhaps could have been. However, many firms are looking to adopt or fast-forward their implementation of the iManage Cloud, enabling these teams to use innovative technology without burdening IT, with managed updates and reduced infrastructure to oversee.
For anyone looking to get into legaltech, including building a consultancy business in this space, do you have any tips?
I would say that legaltech is a highly collaborative market, and that making connections is a vital first step in building any type of legaltech business. There are a growing number of communities and networks dedicated to all things legaltech, so I would recommend joining some of those first. The legaltech consultancy space is a busy, growing and innovative market, so building awareness is critical: it’s a noisy market and you have to cut through the noise with your message and mission.
There is an assumption that when starting a business, you will have loads of free time, but it never happens like that. As you grow the business, there are more and more demands on your time and needs for growing staff, teams and departments. I think my key piece of advice would be to just be prepared for this. Brace yourself for the amount of time it takes to grow an organisation. I would also advise that newcomers try to be cautious and realistic, understanding that the market is always changing, and firms are always adapting their approaches. You need to be resilient and flexible, but dedicated to your mission, your goals and your business.
What things do you know now that you wish you knew when first building your business?
I wish I had a more in-depth understanding of the financial side of innovation. Funding innovation was a real learning curve for me, and we have had our best years of growth during times when we were able to finance new technologies and developments faster through funding.
I also wish I had known how open the market was to collaborative innovation. We were hesitant when we launched initiatives such as The Blueprint User Community because we feared firms may be uncertain about collaborating with vendors and other firms. However, we’ve found that especially in recent years, firms are not just open to collaboration but passionate about partnering with vendors and peers alike to drive the future of legaltech, learning from each other and sharing experiences to support their end-users and organisational learning capabilities.
Finally, what books, blogs, podcasts or other media would you recommend to readers in terms of what we’ve discussed?
In terms of books, I would recommend:
- Mindset, by Dr Carol S Dweck. Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success, but whether we approach them with a fixed mindset (our abilities our static) or growth mindset (our abilities are plastic and can be improved).
- Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg, founder of the Behaviour Design Lab at Stanford, shares his experience coaching over 40,000 people on how to form and maintain better habits.
- The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton explores how our behaviour is shaped by psychological shortcuts, and how cognitive biases can be applied to novel business challenges.
Currently, I’m enjoying these podcasts:
- Feel Better, Live More by Dr Rangan Chatterjee pulls together engaging health experts on a variety of topics to promote healthier and happier living.
- Fringe Legal by Abhijat Saraswat discusses the future of the legal profession, and is aimed at law firm leaders and influencers, covering a diverse range of voices and ideas impacting the evolution of legal practice.
I also enjoy hosting our Tiger Eye KM Conversations series and speaking to a range of law firm knowledge leaders about their career journeys, strategies and key Knowledge Management themes. If your readers are interested in exploring KM careers within law firms, I would definitely recommend checking out the series via our website!
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