Legal-Technology-Surge.jpgIn many cases, the rush to implement Legal technologies at life sciences corporations has followed a process of ‘run, stumble, crawl.’  To ensure success, companies need to ‘walk before they can run.’ 

As MIT’s Andrew McAfee discussed in his LegalTech 2017 seminar “The Second Machine Age,” a technology surge in Legal (and everywhere else) is among us.  The democratization of knowledge, digital power and innovation is driving this surge as we know, and at first read, the idea of ‘democratization’ —knowledge and innovative technology being put in the hands of those who did not have access to it not too long ago—sounds like an amazingly positive thing.  We have tools and systems to help us move quicker, automate, and spend less time on menial tasks.  We have more knowledge, but are we smarter?  We have access to more knowledge and more data, as we know, from the Big Data explosion.  But are we ready for it?  Can we be actionable upon it and make it work for us?

The Technology Gap

I won’t be the first to address the ‘gap’ witnessed not only during LegalTech, but seen every day in working with both Legal IT and Legal business professionals (Legal Operations, General Counsel, etc.).  Legal technology is exploding.  Every next article is ‘the death of the billable hour,’ ‘robot lawyers,’ pushing the conversation far from the manual, paper-filled day-to-day and off into the world of machine learning, block chain and artificial intelligence.  For a technologist (or a geek at the very least) like me, this is really exciting stuff.  But as a Legal Operations professional or GC sitting in the audience, some are left to wonder, how will this high-tech world work for me day-to-day? and, how can I even imagine how I would get there?

Read the blog:  7 Enterprise Legal Management Questions to Challenge Your Team

What we’re hearing from many Corporate Legal Departments at Life Sciences organizations is that current maturity of Legal Operations processes and information management is low.  That might not sound like such an important thing, except for the fact that these new, advanced technologies are intended to put organizations at a very high maturity.  The question is, how will you close that huge gap?  Will it be with a one-time, big-bang implementation of new flashy software?  More importantly, do you know if your business and IT organization and landscape are ready for such a leap?  And how will you manage the change and ensure user adoption of a new environment that may be so drastically different from the current one?

Some companies courageously try for it, and some of them stumble for a multitude of reasons:

  • No current, standardized process exists, resulting in lots of configuration, time and cost. 
  • Time and cost was not budgeted for, so these projects are running dry, requiring a mid-way re-approach. 
  • No strategy exists; therefore, there is no understanding of ‘what we want,’ ‘what is good’ and ‘what aligns to where we want our business to go.’ 
  • Or, if you’re lucky, you get to hit the ‘content and data’ bump midway through your implementation, either at the time of migration or testing.  The old ‘garbage in, garbage out’ kicks in.

So, what can you do? 

You can plan, not just for the potential, pending technology play, but really plan.  Get your business in order including everything from business process, to information and content discovery and mapping to early implementation of a business change management plan.  The bad news: this takes time and a good amount of effort early on and will require business resources.  The great news: you will save effort, time and money on any implementation efforts as a result.  For example, the rationalization and harmonization of business processes early on will save on configuration later, which translates to  less development costs and a more efficient, easy-to-use workflow which is well-adopted by the business that helped build it.

To learn more about how a leading Life Sciences organization defined its Legal Business and Technology Strategy when preparing for an upcoming technology implementation check out this case study Enterprise Legal Management Strategy and Roadmap

Download the Case Study

How is your organization addressing legal technology? 
Let us know in the comments below.