The Legal sector has faced considerable disruption over recent years, with an increasingly digital client base and client demands for better value for money and greater price certainty. Greater competition from new entrants moving into the market has also led to many looking to digital solutions to help them innovate and remain competitive.
More and more law firms are recognising that digital services allow organisations accessibility to a broader client base and increased operational efficiencies. Many are also investing in new technology initiatives such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and automation.
This improves productivity and billable hours without putting extra strain on the existing workforce. Machines do not get tired or need to take lunch breaks.
In what is perceived as a traditional sector, this changing landscape requires leadership, a change of culture, and flexibility. One of the main reasons digital transformation in businesses fail is a lack of clear objectives and strategy. Once committed to a digital transformation undertaking, legal firms require a laser-like focus to implement and transition.
Achieving crystal clear vision to digital transformation
Of course, digital transformation does not happen overnight. It’s a journey that needs careful planning and visibility. Legal firms successfully undertaking digital transformation, have clear focus on:
- Recruitment: Digital environments require IT transformation at some level. For example, many in-house IT teams are turning to Infrastructure and cloud specialists to lay the foundations for a digital ramp up. Employees with new skills like machine learning and data science will be needed to navigate the changing legal landscape.
- Commitment: Digital transformation initiatives require a lot of focus and buy-in from across the business – financially, strategically and operationally. It shouldn’t simply be a side project.
- Agility: Adopt a design thinking approach to design your new digital business model that meets the needs of today’s digitally savvy customer.
Transitioning from traditional operating models to a digitally led business is mean feat. According to Forbes, 84% of all digital transformation projects fail. Evidently there are pitfalls involved in a digital transformation initiative, but foreseeing them gives an organisation a better chance of success.
The issue is, many problems associated with digital transformation projects are not addressed in the initial planning. Problems are either addressed too late (after the initiative is already underway) or simply not at all.
It is important to build a digital technology initiative around known risks and pitfalls, not leaving them to develop into a problem later on.
- Skills gap – Finding staff with sufficient knowledge of your organisation’s products, strategy and future vision as well as the relevant technological know-how is not easy. IT departments can no longer be expected to be experts in the sheer range of technologies and concepts required in today’s complex infrastructures and keep up to date with the latest innovations and best practise. With such a wide breadth of skills required for digital transformation programmes, organisations struggle to recruit or develop the range of skills in house. Having the right partner could be the key to a successful digital transformation initiative.
- Perception – There is a perception that the security measures needed to sustain a successful digital transformation initiative are all about rules and regulations. This is seen to slow an initiative down. Because of this, proper security measures are not observed, or the digital transformation project is stalled because it seems too hard to achieve. However, if security is included from the outset – instead of just being seen as an add-on – the digital transformation project will be much more likely to succeed. By ensuring that you are security compliant from the outset, you can reap the rewards of digital transformation and minimise the risks.
- Changing culture – It is important to have the right culture when undertaking a digital transformation project. There’s no way around it; a culture of innovation leads to digital transformation success. This culture starts with management – they must give their support and resources to a digital transformation project, and embrace the flexibility, agility, and innovation required. This culture is then embraced across the organisation.
Laser-like focus for digital success in legal
The entirety of the legal sector will not be replaced by robots overnight – or, in fact, ever. Digital transformation simply increases your efficiency and capability in dealing with the client. Technology is there to support and enhance, not replace.
Initially, the legal industry was slow to adopt the digital changes that come from digital transformation due to security worries. Now, with recent advances in virtualisation and cloud security, most law firms are embracing digital business trends – with the most innovative leading the way notably, in the use of artificial intelligence.
There is a clear place for digital technology because it allows organisations to remain competitive and improve operational efficiency in an increasingly changing landscape. However, the success of transformation in the sector requires a 20/20 vision and strategy and there are a number of leaders in the legal sector showing the way.
We work extensively with the legal sector. Want to learn more about digital in legal? Download our Digital Capabilities in Legal ebook.