Legal IT Insider Interview: CTS and Tiger Eye talk strategy as they focus on becoming a global DX partner for law firms
Interview | As featured in Legal IT Insider | 3rd July 2023
Legal IT Insider asks CTS’ CEO and founder Nigel Wright, and Tiger Eye’s managing director and founder Dave Wilson, about the combined company’s strategic change of direction, as they leverage both platform and applications capability to become a DX partner globally. CTS, a UK legal sector cloud and managed services provider, acquired Tiger Eye, a leading UK iManage partner, in 2022.
Tell us how your strategy is changing or has changed since CTS and Tiger Eye became part of one company?
Nigel: At CTS we’ve been delivering private and public cloud services to maintain our firms since 2006. It’s been a while and that strategy and methodology was wonderful because it enabled us to grow substantially. We’re heading towards £30m turnover this year and it also enabled us to focus on one area and be good at what we do, which enabled growth and sector specialisation. It also built a really good base of knowledge internally.
However, the market has changed, and the market is changing on our clients. The market wants different stuff from us, and they want different stuff from us for a variety of reasons, partly because every medium and large law firm is focused on transition and transitioning their digital strategy and that means lots of different things to lots of different folk.
In essence, for us and for our clients, what that means is that they want a trusted partner to deliver more products and services, and why do they want to do that or a partner to do that? That’s because they’re trying to simplify their increasingly complex IT environment. They’re trying to mitigate some of those big hurdles in the road such as why do application vendors not understand platforms, and why do platform vendors not understand applications, but I think it’s a bit more than that. I think what they want is a trusted partner to help them design the DX journey, to simplify the IT environment through application rationalisation and platform rationalisation, but ultimately optimizing performance so that they can do what they are supposed to be doing, which is drive fee earner productivity.
So we have we’ve been looking at this for a while and what we’ve done is redesigned or we’re in the process of redesigning our business. We’ve fundamentally redesigned our purpose and mission and our mission is really to change from being a specialist MSP, serving mid-tier legal in the UK to becoming a DX partner for law firms globally over the next five years.
What does that mean in practice and how does Tiger Eye fit in?
Nigel: We’re going to grow both organically and inorganically. Dave and Tiger Eye were our first foray into non-MSP and the reason we thought that that would be a good idea would be for lots of reasons. Firstly, when we met Dave, we liked him, which is always a good start. But fundamentally, one of the two big growth pillars is product expansion.
Within product expansion one of the big areas for growth is what we very creatively call ‘core solutions.’ Solutions has quite a broad remit but basically it means application services focused on our core platform offering.
The really easy way to step into that is to look at who has got monopoly in the business in the market. Obviously, if you look at applications in the legal market, it’s iManage and then once you break that down, you look at who the iManage partners in the UK are. One of them has been acquired by a company called Morae and we had a look at some of the others. As soon as we met Dave and his team, we realised they were by far the most technical and they had by far the best NPS. They’re uber focused on delivering quality, probably not quite so focused on scaling and sales and we thought we could maybe help with that, and fundamentally, Dave’s belief and our belief co-exist in relation to over here we have our application vendors and over here our platform vendors, and in the middle is the client. The client feels the pain because they aren’t conjoined, and that was an opportunity for us to come together.
What is your joint go-to-market strategy?
Nigel: Our first step in the market which we’ve got our product team working on at the minute is to deliver a joined up iManage integration support and consultancy service, as a core part of our platform offering, which we will be releasing later this year and we’re doing some market research into that at the minute. We’re talking to the market and clients, but that’s the first foray into our solutions space to enable us to begin and kick off with that and the DX journey.
We have around 300 law firms and barristers chambers in the market ranging from 50 to 2000 seats. We really want to drill down on getting our product strategy right in the UK before we take the big step and go on an international journey.
That’s currently what Dave and I and our team are working on with the Tiger Eye and CTS integration at the moment. I don’t understand why no one’s done it because this doesn’t exist globally right now. We’ve been talking to people in the US, Australia and Asia who are specialists in quasi-managed services to the legal marketplace, and nobody does this right now. Nobody delivers full integrated applications and application services, legal applications on platform together. It seems like a no brainer.
How will this approach benefit clients?
Nigel: If you think of a client, say a Top 200 law firm, they’re all on a stage of a DX journey. Some of them are right at the very, very beginning, and some of them are quite a long way down the line. The DX journey means different things to different people, but in essence it’s simplifying, it’s digitising your IT landscape. One of the really, really big obvious things is to rationalize the number of applications you use.
What the DX means to us is that we will, over the next few years, put a front-end DX consultancy on our business. That means we will help firms understand how, from a planning perspective, to deliver the DX journey over three years.
When you talk to firms they might have 60 applications, 20 of which are legacy, and there’s no path for those legacy applications to move to the DX journey that you need. So therefore, you’re going to have to make some hard choices about swapping those out for something else that’s going to work. That’s a three-year project. These are big long-term projects for law firms. They’re not five minutes. So, what we want to help is with the journey, first of all.
Our core offering today is platform. It’s what we do. However, the platform journey that law firms are on and the services that are delivered today, neither of those two are fit for purpose for tomorrow. So, what we want to deliver is a much more involved platform offering. Most law firms of any reasonable size have a messy infrastructure, so they’re going have some SaaS products like iManage. They are going to have a number of legacy products which might be Thomson Reuters or something on-site or something else. And then they might have beta on various applications in various parts of the public or private cloud. What we want to do is tie those all together. What the client really wants to achieve is put all of that in simplified cloud access model with a really intuitive front end, and that’s the next stage for us.
Dave: What we can do is offer customers and prospective customers a bigger set of tools. Maybe you want to move from iManage on premises to the cloud. But what happens to your PMS? Well, we can now use a CTS wrapper around that to take the whole lot to the cloud, or private cloud, wherever that PMS can sit we can take the whole lot.
We’re also seeing a massive uptake in people interested in finding out what they need to do about ‘knowledge.’ How do they do that, especially in this post COVID world where we’re all working in a hybrid way and trying to get to that knowledge quickly and using tools, maybe like ChatGPT, maybe like Henchman or various other bits that we can plug into our knowledge solution which really is taking that to another level.
Nigel: It’s the start of a big journey and we need to get the first bit right, but the market is ready for something different. They’ve been crying out for these services we just need to make sure that we deliver effectively first time and we’re putting a lot of time, money and energy into the business at the moment to make sure we deliver that.
Read the interview via the Legal IT Insider website: https://legaltechnology.com/2023/07/03/interview-cts-and-tiger-eye-talk-strategy-as-they-focus-on-becoming-a-global-dx-partner-for-law-firms/