Archives for Practice Management category
Recently Manzama was published in Marketing The Law Firm, an ALM Publication. For those that subscribe to the newsletter, you can get the story in its entirety, but the genesis of the article was the “personalization of business intelligence.” If I had to talk about the evolution of the consumption of business intelligence I would say the progression has evolved as follows:
- 1990s: Internet content usage creates new venues for companies and organizations to “message” what it is they care about — enter blogs, news sites, etc. At this stage, information overload is not really an issue;
- 1995+: Content proliferation reaches critical point of “too much.” Many industries (including the legal profession) begin to rely on third party providers/curators of information to get better intelligence on clients, practices, industries, etc. For example, a firm might subscribe to a renewable energy newsletter to stay abreast of developments within that industry;
- 2000 – 2006/7: Consumers of intelligence want to see more specifics, less interest in seeing what everyone else is getting via newsletter or alert. Law firms begin to invest in “high-touch” organizations that curate content to various practice, client or industry teams.
- 2008+ : Outsourcing curation gets expensive, especially in light of the fact that markets have become more “micro” in nature, users (including lawyers) expect to see intelligence that hits their inbox be relevant to their needs. Typical alerts are too broad and it’s costly to get granular. Technology starts to enter into the equation in late 2008. The result is “personalized business intelligence.” More and more this is what we hear from lawyers –help me understand the issues that are emerging, risk points and trending concepts within an industry, client, practice or theme in general. Oh, and make it easy. Tall order, but that’s the game we are in and it’s really a lot of fun.
All the best,
I often wonder how statistics like that from Harvard Business Review in April 2012: “Fewer than 44% of employees know where to find information they need for their day-to-day activities.” At first glance, I say “so what?” We seem to be a fairly productive society, or, so we believe. However, the more time I spend analyzing issue and understanding the importance of data (and I am not talking just metrics on a company’s or firm’s performance — a lagging indicator), the more convinced I am that a deeper understanding of data across many perspectives = greater probability of success. This said, it’s pretty clear to me that the range of investment and interest in leveraging data varies, sometimes this is evidenced by a firm’s commitment to understanding. I’d like to share some data points on a summary I recently read on “Big Data, Why it matters — prove it,” from the Economist Intelligence Unit. I actually added the “prove it” part of this statement, but the articles describes the various levels of commitment an organization will devote to data and how that translates to success (or lack thereof):
- Data Wasters = “30% of data wasters don’t prioritize data collection. Yet 70% collect data, and still severely underuse them. These companies under-perform financially, and can be found in any industry.”
Quick facts: (a) suffer from poor alignment between business and IT; (b) far more focused on improving internal operations and far more focused on internal reporting in particular; (c) put mid-level managers in charge of their data strategies; (d) struggle with data management skills.
- Data Collectors = recognize the importance of data collection, but lack resources.
Quick facts; (a0) submerged in data; (b) most likely to put senior IT person in charge of data; (c) suffer from poor IT/Business Alignment; (d) struggle most with data quality, accuracy and reconciliation; (e) do not invest in “skills” to manage data.
- Aspiring Data Managers = Fully embrace importance of data for future.
Quick facts: (a) They allow data to inform strategic decisions; (b) companies in communication and retail space are most likely to be found in this category; (c) slightly less likely to put CEO in charge of this strategy; (d) currently leverage internal data, but hoping to put more data to consumer/client facing issues; (e) unlike strategic data managers, still struggle to clean and reconcile data; (f) 66% put only half of valuable data to use; (g) they are most likely to complain they have too much data and not enough resources.
- Strategic Data Managers = Most advanced. Most often found among manufacturing, financial services and technology companies. Strategic managers first identify strategy and then get data that helps them better understand how to get there.
Quick Facts: (a) Use a high percentage of data they collect; (b) A C-Level exec runs their data operation; (c) invest heavily in all aspects of data management; (d) explore emerging data sets for value.
I suppose only a couple of question remains — where are you today? And, if need to, how are you going to change your scenario?
All the best,
Tim does an excellent job of laying out the challenges law firms are facing today, especially as it pertains to the need for “data” to impact business development relationships. On a related point, Tim talks about understanding which markets make sense to pursue — said another way it’s about “micro markets,” see post on this blog in 2011. His comments on the need to better analyze internal and external data as it pertains to a firm’s growth efforts underscore the need for new process, thinking and systems. Most firms I work with acknowledge this to be true, but it’s really about execution and use of the information to drive the business (a practice I am not sure many firms are accustomed to). Internal (helps you with profitability), external (social media, news, industries) helps you with skating to where the puck will be. In either case, Tim suggests decisions should be “data driven.”
In any event, I encourage folks to see the full video here.
A few other data points that we believe are driving the need for more aggressive and sophisticated business development tactics/strategies:
•Prior to 2009, demand for legal services exceeded supply. Since that time, revenue generation in many of these core disciplines is flat or in decline.
•Law firms are placing greater emphasis on business development and increasing their investments in resources accordingly.
•IBM CIO Study – BI and Analytics (Big Data) are # 1 Priority for CIO’s in 2012 in terms of new technology investment.
•Harvard Business Review, fewer than 44% of employees indicate they know where to find information when they need it.
•Forrester Report – Social Intelligence (information in the public domain) & Business Intelligence are not possible without a technology platform.
All the best,
For the past several years Manzama has been focused on bringing a business intelligence/social intelligence platform into law firms –in many ways, leveraging tools like ours in the past have been considered the responsibility of administrative departments, but I’d like to argue that the time of relying on staff only to support the needs of the lawyers, whether in the context of business intelligence or otherwise, is a culture of the past and I am not suggesting this for reasons that we have heard before – lawyer/staff ratios, cost cutting, process improvements. Rather, I think it’s an issue of necessity. Having talked to countless CMOs in the past several years, I see and feel the sense of urgency to change and bring lawyer’s into the fold. Many CMOs are responding to the call with action. The necessity, in my humble opinion, is based on the fact that everyone needs to see themselves as a producer – few are entitled to a free ride, bright or otherwise. Yes, there are a handful of firms that are immune to whatever factors occur on a macro or micro level, but that percentage is fast becoming a minority, recession or otherwise. And frankly, I believe it’s a good thing. More than ever, systems, tools, advice and information exist to assist any lawyer (savvy or otherwise) with their business development practices. As a vendor, it’s actually great to be operating in this economy of heightened competitiveness, in that the ability to add value is not only appreciated, but sought after. This said, the bulk of the action will reside in the hands of the lawyers and teams to bring any process, technology or system to ensure that future goals and objectives are met. Because the other benefit to this heightened competitive state for law firms is that the great firms will become even greater.
All the best,
Given that the negative connotations associated with “sales” of legal services continues to erode, it’s time law firms start considering how they can more effectively “sell.” While effectively selling implies many disciplines (opportunity management, appropriate skills sets, tools, etc.), I’d like to focus this post on how data can drive sales growth. Most recently, I read an article in Harvard Business Review that discussed how corporations are evolving their sales approaches to focus on micromarkets. Interestingly enough, some law firms (and likely not enough) are already prospecting and evaluating which micromarkets they have the best opportunity to develop business. For example, a little over a year ago if I had been paying attention I might have noticed that there was an emerging opportunity to advise my clients around a specific area of law or topic, such as the Foreign Corruption Practices Act (which has been used by the Justice Department as a vehicle to penalize companies for bribing gov’t or company officials as well as in the context of SEC violations). While the FCPA was enacted in 1977, it’s seen a variety of increased application in the last year to eighteen months. Law firms that noticed the trend a year ago and subsequently ramped up their outreach and messaging early in the process may have been able to take a lead role in advising their clients as to the risks as well as to the appropriate corporate practices that would need to be in place to avoid an inquiry. Long of the short, it’s a micromarket strategy.
The key attribute to a successful Micromarket Strategy is using “Data”to drive sales. It’s not good enough to look at information after the fact and then draw a conclusion that your clients may benefit. The primary differences as outlined by a recent Harvard Business Review article as applied to Tradition Selling/Business Development vs. a Micromarket strategy can be summarized as follows:
|Sales collects customer data from internal sources (CRM, billing, customer service databases, experience management systems)
Data are updated and analyzed quarterly or semi-annually
Outside analysts provide tools, advice and statistical services
|Sales combines very large databases of internal and external data such as demographics, social media chatter, and competitive intensity
Data are updated and analyzed monthly, weekly and daily
Data collection and analytics are done by in-house experts
|Sales coverage is defined by large regions and territories
Sales resources are allocated according to a region’s historical performance
|Sales coverage is segmented into dozens or hundreds of micromarkets
Resources are deployed at the micromarket level accordingly to expected future opportunity
|Rep (and channel partner) performance is assessed relative to other reps (and other channel partners)
||Performance is assessed relative to t opportunity within the micromarkets
|Sales, marketing, and other departments are siloed
||Sales, marketing, strategy, customer service, and other functions are collaborative.
So, in terms of marketing/business development, what’s the expected roll? According to the article (which I happen to agree with) marketing often takes on an expanded role, particularly in providing sales (your partners) with data analytics and supporting the development and testing of sales plays for a specific micromarket or customer peer group. One question left — how’s your micromarket strategy coming along?
All the best,
Hello folks –
Recently read a very insightful article from Harvard Business Review on data management and how organizations (not just law firms) are falling behind (appeared in April 2012 issue). Paraphrasing the articles main points:
• Fewer than 44% of employees say they know where to find information they need for their day-to-day.
•Executives don’t manage information as well as they manage talent, capital and brand. – Provide business development teams and lawyers with an information advantage as it pertains to their client and practice development strategies.
•Managers need to wake up to the fact their data investments are providing limited returns – their organizations are under-invested in understanding the information.
•Half of all employees find that information from corporate sources is in unusable format – The best companies avoid this problem by deploying improved information filtering and visualization, for example, they might provide charts instead of raw data.
These data points, as well as the recent and continued press on “Big Data,” likely implies the challenges to uncover intelligence are hear to stay. All the best,
This past week my company, Manzama, had the pleasure of hosting a Chief Marketing Officer Dinner in New York City. The group was an intimate one, approximately 15-18 CMOs from some of the largest law firms in New York. And, while I am not at liberty to discuss specific firms or comments, I would like to share some of the big ideas I heard at the table as various questions were posed to the group as a whole:
(a) Profitability – The expectation is that it’s not just the accounting team’s responsibility to understand matter and client profitability metrics. The responsibility is a collective one, especially in light of the fact that marketing/business development are the first line of defense when it comes to interfacing with client teams and concerns;
(b) Business Intelligence – some firms have re-organized to fold library and other traditionally IT functions into the marketing departments – do we see a trend here as more of these folks are asked to perform business intelligence functions that need to closely align with the firm’s marketing strategies;
(c ) Contract lawyers – growing percentage of firms are using contract lawyers in a number of different contexts.
It’s a rare event to get a group like this together to share thoughts over dinner. In the event this blog entry finds them, I wanted to personally thank each and everyone for their time and interest.
This past week I gathered with a group of colleagues in San Francisco, represented were a number of CKOs from some of the largest law firms on the west coast. The group has been meeting and expanding for years. The fundamental drivers for the group are to discuss a range of issues and challenges that large law firms are facing. Overall, here’s what I say were the main takeaways from our get together:
(a) Automation — although a lot of discourse tends to focus on AFA (alternative fee arrangements), to actually deliver on flat fee or fixed arrangements, firms need “automation,” that is to say they need to take the low hanging fruit and process and find ways to deliver to the client at lower price points. I can’t think of a firm in the group that had not begun some sort of an effort here. Related to this theme — the growing % of AFA arrangements, the group differed from 15 – 35% of work falling in this bucket. Initial reaction was that even 25% seemed high, but the reality is if we write-off good percentages of non-fixed fee arrangement, are we not in effect doing the same thing?
(b) Sharepoint as CRM — I was surprised to hear this, but it makes sense. The frustrations with the incumbents continues to fuel the need to consider other options;
(c) Next Big Thing — the group watched Mary Meeker’s presentation from Web 2.0 Oriely Conference, a must see. It generated a fair amount of conversation as to where the market is trending. As expected, opinions differed as to how these global trends would impact law firms from “not at all” to “wow” moments. My personal “Ah-ha” was related to the growth of mobile — as a business leader, I already feel like I am behind, but fortunately some of my colleagues did not share this perspective and suggested law firms (namely lawyers) are just not that interested in accessing applications via their mobile devices. This said, if I were still CKO at Paul Hastings, I think I’d be scrapping my plans for version 5.5 of the portal and thinking about how I can reach the lawyers with the right services/information via mobile apps, etc.
This past week was a great week for our company. Note, typically I’d like to refrain from using this forum to promote or business (at least directly:)). This being said, Friday, October 15th, Manzama was selected as the winner of the Bend Venture Conference, and with it the prize of $200,000 to be invested in our current Series A round. The good news is we had already achieved our financing goal for our Series A, and the $200,000 put us in an oversubscribed scenario.
However, I think the most important take away (at least for me professionally and personally) was the validation that came with being selected the winner among some very other strong business plans from all over the Northwest. The format was a ten minute presentation followed with a 10 minute Q & A. On a practical level, this means that we’ll be in a better position to deliver new features, request and services to our client base. Here’s a link to the original tweet:
I have the pleasure of participating in a CKO/CIO Roundtable dating back to my days at Paul Hastings (where I held the position of CTO/CKO). The group meets every few months and consists mostly of AMLAW 150 firms. Top on the group’s mind as of late have been: (a) KM lite — doing more with less; (b) AFAs — creating workflow systems to help manage and (c) Normalizing Data. It’s the last topic I want to spend a few moments on today — in that it’s so very critical to being able to effectively offer a client an alternative fee or fixed fee arrangement. I am not convinced firms have nailed normalizing their data to be able to justify and clearly defend to management profit margins in fixed fee or alternative fee arrangements, other than for the simplest of matters. If others out there have had success — would welcome your input.