Keynote: Scott Klososky – Technology, Trends and the Catalytic Impacts on Law Firms

ILTA13Scott Klososky is Principal at Future Point of View, an Enterprise Social Technology Expert and a Startup Pioneer. In this keynote address he will discuss how to achieve technology mastery at an enterprise level and how to connect more closely with clients. Future Point of View is a technology strategy firm that focuses on teaching technology to non-tech leaders. (Scott also has a video collection of his talks on YouTube.)

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2013 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • Digital Darwinisn or Technology Darwinism. If the pace of change is faster than your ability to keep up, your firm will fail. You have to INNOVATE or ABDICATE. If the pace of change of the organization is slower than the general pace of change, you create a “risk gap” that affects service relevancy, client connections, brand reputation and talent acquisition.
  • Technology Inflection Points. In every industry, technology hits an inflection point where the technology changes so rapidly that it forces participants into being winners or losers. The winners achieve their status through Technology Mastery. The losers cut back on their technology investment as their revenues decline (which moves them further from technology mastery). They then end up in a death spiral.
  • Case Studies. Retail bookstores like Borders sold books, music and coffee. When two of the three went digital and Border could not master that technology, it went bankrupt. Similarly, Kodak had patents on digital inventions, but could not get off of the “film crack” that had provided such robust revenues for so many years.
  • Dead Leaders Walking. Like the Kodak leadership, they are reluctant to change how they do business because they are making money. The problem is that lots of companies made money up until the moment that they failed to make a successful transition to the internet. They say: (1) “we’re already successful so we don’t need to apply new technologies”; (2) “I can just outsource strategy to technology people”; (3) “we already have a big investment in the way we do things now.” The problem is that the get stuck in the things in which they have already invested and can’t think about new or different investments. Klososky says that business leaders have a responsibility to their organizations to understand the true value of technology. They need to understand that business intelligence is not just technology or just data mining. According to Klososky, it’s a philosophy that says that more data is better.
  • Technology Mastery. Technology mastery is the development of a personal (or collective) ability to use technology to become world class. When you have technology mastery in your organization, every member of staff understands how world-class technology affects their business. He has a technology mastery model: His clients often start with digital marketing or digital plumbing tasks, because this is the place they first experience pain. However, this isn’t necessarily the best starting point. To achieve Technology Mastery every firm needs to 3–5 technology guideposts and the following attributes: (1) You also need an adaptive culture. If your organization is to be world-class, you need the necessary cultural alchemy that helps you people move with technological change with minimal friction. If the organization fights you on new technology, you’ll always fall behind your world-class competitors. (2) You need a world-class technology team. (3) You need comprehensive key technology processes. Process makes success repeatable. If you are missing a key one, you will be in pain. (4) You need measurements & analytics. These tell you where you are and point to ways in which you can close the gap between how well your firm does with technology and how your competitors score. (5) Finally, you need leadership that has necessary knowledge and “high-beam vision.” If you can’t see 3-5 years out for your industry and your organization, you won’t be able to get the necessary resources in place to survive and thrive. Taken together, these elements create Technology Mastery.
  • High-Beam versus Low-Beam Leadership. Low-beam focus is for management. They have a short-term (12 month) strategy that they execute. They focus on monthly results, they ignore trends in favor of work ing towards explicit results. This is necessary but not sufficient. High-beam leadership have a 5-10 year focus. Understanding where technology is headed (e.g., Google Glass or brain computer interfaces, etc.) is critical for strategic success. There is a standard pattern for technology innovation: it is introduced, it is banned, and then it is required. Remember how we first handled calculators and laptop computers in school? High-beam leaders move beyond the initial resistance to new ideas and see, instead, the great potential for their business.
  • You don’t need to be on the Bleeding Edge, but on the Leading Edge. There is no safety in the middle of the pack. Being in the middle of pack means that you don’t act until your competitors have. This means that you will always be 2-3 years behind them. You actually need to be 2-3 years ahead of them if you want to retain your competitive edge. That said, you will most likely have to bleed a little to get to the leading edge. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
  • Humalogy is the Perfect Blend of Humanity and Technology. Humalogy means assigning tasks to humans where appropriate and to technology where appropriate. There is a range from extreme reliance on humans and their actions to an extreme reliance on machines and technology. If processes or firms go too far towards full automation, they may lose empathy. If they go too far towards the human side of the scale, they will not have processes that are repeatable. Repeatable processes are key for success.  You need the right amount of technology to provide efficiency, coupled with the right amount of human to make the interactions engaging and humane.
  • How does this affect our clients? According to Scott Klososky, clients say that law firms treat them as if they are “meat with wallets.” When the clients are writing the checks, the firm is engaged. However, at other times, the firm is absent or remote. This poses a real challenge for law firms: how to create a humane level of engagement that helps your clients feel the love.
  • Lean. Organizational Lean is about understanding people, processes and technology. [Sounds like knowledge management.] For example, onboarding a client is a process. What are you doing in that process that goes beyond simply gathering the information needed to issue bills and avoid ethical conflicts? What are you doing in that process to help those clients feel the love?
  • Leaders should focus on their Legacy. They need to help their firm transition from a paper-based world to a technology-based way of working. They need to give their firms a 2-3 year lead. When you retire, will your colleagues say that you were critical to the firm’s ability to survive and thrive. Or, will your colleagues say at your retirement that they are so relieved that you have finally left because you stifled the firm’s success?
  • Closing Thoughts. How do you apply the concept of Humalogy to amplify profits while applying organizational lean to drop the bottom line? How can you apply high-beam thinking to better utilize technolgy?  (If they are not listening to you, examine how you are “painting the picture.”) What else do you need to learn to be world-class?
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