To the uninitiated, “Digital Transformation” might seem like just another technology industry buzz-phrase – but it refers to an actual phenomenon, namely, how technology changes the conditions under which people conduct business. Artificial intelligence, natural language processing, machine learning, content analytics, predictive analytics, and blockchain form the basis for Digital Transformation, but digital transformation is not about technology. Technology is the catalyst for digital transformation.

For law organizations – law departments, law firms, and law companies – Digital Transformation holds out the possibility of eliminating costs, reducing risks, and generating revenue. Digital Transformation also presents challenges. Foremost among them is how to leverage data to obtain actionable insights and how to apply technology to your organization’s specific circumstances and your unique data, culture, business goals, and organizational capabilities.

Most legal data (e.g., contracts, pleadings, briefs, court opinions, etc.) exist in formats that facilitate processing and comprehension by humans, not software. Until recently, software was incapable of understanding language in context; today, we are at a turning point. Software is increasingly able to process natural language and identify patterns, trends, and opportunities for action that would be impossible for humans to identify at scale. This transforms your organization’s data into a business asset.

It also leads to the second challenge: how to adapt (to “personalize”) technology to your organization’s distinctive data, goals, and risks. The more you provide technology with information about your organization, the more consequential the technology’s insights – up to a point. With software now able to read and analyze vast sets of data, new questions arise. What data matters? What technology should you use and how?

The most important factor in digital success is identifying the right problem to solve. You must be clear about what you want to achieve with technology and your data. What is your most pressing problem? What new insights, enhanced processes, and improved capabilities would have the greatest impact on your business goals, the risks you face, or the efficiency of your operations?

Once you have answers to those questions, you can begin to develop a digital strategy that lays out the plan of action for getting from where you are to where you want to be.  Getting your digital strategy right is crucial. A successful strategy is at once financially viable, technically feasible, and targeted at what users want. Defining your strategy requires prioritizing ideas based on criteria such as the cost of achieving them, their value to users, their impact on your priorities, the ease of building a solution and deploying it, and the degree to which the idea in question addresses users’ needs, wants, and motivations.

An example is a law organization with extensive work-product on a known set of repeatable legal issues, siloed across several internal data repositories. Having humans track down work-product to re-use is time-consuming. It can also miss relevant material – resulting in the inefficiency (i.e., time, resources) of having someone research, analyze, and write about something that someone else already addressed.

Depending on an organization’s needs and objectives, this may be a problem suitable for a digital strategy. As detailed above, before charging ahead to solve this problem, the law department must clarify various issues. What end-state does it seek to achieve? To what extent will that end-state advance business or operational goals? What is the cost of and ROI for solving the problem? Will solving it address what users want and need?

Only once you know the problem you intend to solve and your strategy for doing so will you have a sound basis for selecting, configuring, and deploying technology to achieve your business case. In a market flooded with technology options, law organizations often need help defining the best starting point. Three common pitfalls are limited access to the latest technology (and the know-how to configure and deploy it), limited access to best practices (matched to your unique circumstances), and limited ability to test ideas at speed, digitize discrete processes, or rapidly scale.

From Elevate’s work with law departments and law firms developing and implementing digital strategies, we have seen first-hand that companies and firms are often intrigued at the opportunities Digital Transformation can provide but unsure how to begin exploring what is possible. To assist these organizations, Elevate offers no-cost half-day remote workshops on Digital Transformation.

The workshops center on identifying and validating a few low-hanging fruit opportunities for you to derive insights from your data using analytics, AI, and automation. We do this by first sharing information about some of the successful use case patterns we see to give you get a sense of the possibilities around Digital Transformation. The next step is discussing and clarifying your goals (business or otherwise) for a digital strategy. We then work with you to identify the needs of your users based on their current experience. From there, we can together begin to outline a suitable digital strategy and zero in on possibilities for quick but impactful projects.

There is no substitute for working with an organization with an array of technology, the knowledge in how best to adapt technology to specific goals and needs, and a proven ability to stand up, iterate on, and scale solutions. Elevate offers all three of these, and we are eager to share our expertise with you.