25th June 2020
25th June 2020
By Mark Langsbury at ContractPodAi
With lockdown restrictions continuing, it seems that companies are viewing flexible working as the way forward. At the Alternative Events' In-house Hangout, the discussion was focused on digital transformation, the part technology has played in the move to remote working - and how to maximize its potential.
Across the board, it seems that companies have adjusted well to the move from office-based working to home working. A few organizations had been accustomed to working remotely. Others already had elements of flexible working in place. But even where there was an office-based policy, robust business contingency plans and the availability of technology has facilitated a relatively smooth transition to home working.
Technology has become all-important during the COVID-19 crisis and a focal point for business contingency. Of course, we have experienced pandemics in the past. But a critical difference in today’s working world is the wide availability of technology - and the ability of people to operate effectively from home. All sorts of solutions are now available for collaboration, engagement, process efficiency, workflow enablement, and analytics. However, the challenge has been in changing the mindset of businesses. This is around the value, use, and adoption of technology to drive the best results.
Perhaps the biggest challenge when procuring legal tech is getting business buy-in and securing budget.
Fifty-two percent of the In-House Hangout audience agreed with this view when polled. And 24 percent cited internal change management as a barrier. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a strong case for increased tech adoption and usage - at all levels of business. It's also driving change at a pace never before seen.
A second poll of the Hangout audience highlighted the importance of technology to in-house legal teams, in particular. Thirty-five percent said that completing their digital transformation is the most significant opportunity in this crisis. Interestingly, 30 percent said that this period offers a chance to make fundamental changes to current working practices. Either way, technology has proven to be an enabler in this crisis, allowing teams to continue functioning. And, clearly, the poll demonstrates the desire of legal teams to push ahead with digital transformation. That's to make changes to processes and practices, and strengthen their ability to operate.
So, with the new environment thrust upon employees, they have adapted well to the demands and worked as productively as possible from home. Across the speaker panel, there was agreement that technology has enabled a new way of working. It has allowed teams to remain online and operate effectively in a short space of time. For instance, the flexibility of today’s cloud-based technologies means that they can easily be configured. This is to support working from different locations and establish new workflows.
Although technology is essential, it’s also imperative to show trust in employees to get the job done, according to a Lead Counsel and Managing Director from a Fortune 500 company. As long as expectations are quite clear, people have a strong sense of responsibility. And they are self-motivated to do the best work possible, regardless of location.
Jerry Levine, General Counsel for IPSoft, backs this up. He has been impressed by the level of ownership that his legal team has demonstrated in recent months.
For another General Counsel from a transportation company, digital transformation is about changing behaviour and culture, as mentioned above. he spoke in detail about the need to upskill legal teams, and change individual behaviour and company culture. All of this helps to make technology work in the best way and ensure the success of digital transformation.
Finally, the audience was asked which areas of digital transformation are a key priority for the business over the next six months. Topping the list - with 44 percent of the vote - was process transformation by incorporating data, APIs, data analytics, and machine learning.
Ultimately, automation is a game-changer for many companies. That is especially true at this time, when the bottom-line profit is vital for long-term survival.
In the future, the office is more likely to be a hub, bringing people together to collaborate and socialize. But one of the challenges, mentioned by a General Counsel from a sports franchise, is how to support the creative process moving forward. The In-House Hangout audience was also asked about the biggest challenge for in-house teams at the moment. Thirty percent placed the stimulation of creativity and innovation at the top of the list.
With these processes being more effective in a face-to-face environment, the office could become the place to create and innovate. This is rather than just delivering work.
Certainly, this time of crisis has shown the value of technology and adaptation. Whether or not remote working remains, technology will be at the heart of every business. So, it’s imperative that companies use tools and technologies to their maximum potential. It will only benefit both the employees and the wider organization, perhaps no more so than in the legal industry.
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