Digitalisation

Exciting new technologies take sustainable competitive advantage to entirely new levels 

For decades we have lived, worked and played in a digital world. Generative AI and other novel, emergent digital technologies are poised to take this to entirely new levels. This is accelerating, to velocities and intensities that are hard to manage.

On the one hand, digitalisation of fundamental work systems and processes promises to revolutionize productivity in our firms, enabling professionals to deliver value of a complexity and scale that was inconceivable before. On the other, it threatens with obsolescence our century-old law firm business models, hard wired to billable-hours.

Strategy is at the core of all we do. Our digitalisation advisory services are delivered in that context. We aim to guide your transition from traditional business models based on human inputs to ones in which humans leverage new, sophisticated tools to deliver more complex, high-value services to clients, more efficiently, while enhancing performance, work/life balance, and profitability.

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The digital landscape is evolving very, very rapidly:

Client expectations: According to the Gartner 2024 CIO and Technology Executive survey, roughly 90% of in-house counsel expect their legal advisors to adopt generative AI within the next three years, if they have not yet done so already.

Disruption of commoditised work: Many law firms are already digitising low-value, repetitive tasks – for instance through bots and other on-demand services. As innovations are proven at this level, though, they will tend to migrate up the value chain, disrupting higher margin work. Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation explains this.

Disruption of complex, high-value work: Few firms yet recognize the impending digital disruption of their most complex and valuable work. For firms that can successfully adapt their business models, the higher end of the value spectrum probably offers the greatest opportunity for sustainable competitive advantage and necessitates innovative business models for continued success.

In the future lies the possibility of general AI and quantum computing, either of which would likely disrupt our worlds in ways that we cannot even conceive. Whether or when these will emerge cannot be foretold. For now, firms need to be guided by how client needs are evolving in response to current disruptors, and how their value propositions and business models must evolve in response.

Digitalisation is not a linear journey with a clear beginning and end. There is no finish-line. Instead, it is a continuous process of evolution. Each advancement brings more challenges for those clinging to outdated practices, and opportunities for those who successfully adapt. Our aim is to help you ensure that your firm is amongst the latter.

Our digitalisation services

Strategy is at the core of all our advisory work. Our goal is to help you make the best strategic decisions about digitalisation, to derive the greatest value from it. Our approach is strongly people-led. Digitalisation is as much about behaviour as technology, so our aim includes to help you cultivate a digital mindset within your teams and leadership.

Preparing minds

Others have done an excellent job over the years of sensitising legal and other professionals to the disruption of technology in their businesses and the world. The next practical step involves equipping law firm leaders with the knowledge, strategic frameworks, and leadership skills necessary for effective digital transformation in their own firms, specifically.

We can help you:

  • Educate your partners and workforce on the aspects of professional service digitalisation, demystifying it and helping them understand its impact on their work.
  • Discover the vast possibilities promised by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), cloud, automation, big data, the internet of things (IoT), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, frequently in tandem with each other, to enhance the practice and business of law and other professions.
  • Build your vocabulary to accurately articulate plans and to communicate more effectively with technology specialists.
  • Understand how digitalisation enables an entirely new generation of law firm business model – the “6th Generation Law Firm” – to emerge. [link to 6th generation paper”]

Identifying and building early use cases

Demonstrating early successes is key to fostering mindsets accepting of change. To achieve these, we recommend that you harness the enthusiasm of those in your firm who are already excited by the prospect of digitalisation, using well-proven end-to-end innovation management methods, to build organisation-wide enthusiasm for it. 

We can help you:

  • Design an innovation management system for your firm that crowdsources ideas and uses the Agile methodology to build these incrementally through developing proofs of concept, developing the commercial business case, pitching to the firm’s leadership, and scaling up (each stage dependent on success in earlier stages.)
  • Brainstorming options, including for generating new revenue streams, addressing specific client “pain points”, building workforce engagement or other high-value opportunities that digital solutions can address.
  • Facilitate time bound, high-intensity creative sessions to focus diverse groups onto complex, challenging problems, and leveraging multidisciplinary perspectives to uncover solutions that would otherwise remain hidden.

Enhancing Your Client Value Proposition (CVP)

Create more compelling reasons for your clients to hire your firm instead of your rivals is one of the most valuable uses of digitalisation. It strikes to the very core of sustainable competitive advantage. Digitalisation can powerfully enhance all three core aspects of your firm’s CVP. Properly focused, it enhances: the quality of the substantive services that you sell to your clients; your client experience (CX) – how the client experiences your firm including their relationships with your people; your reputation by branding your firm as an innovative, forward thinking advisory business.

We can help you:

  • Evaluate how your CVP compares to that of your rivals, and what role relative digitalisation plays in that.
  • Critically evaluate the impact that digitalisation (and other) initiatives will likely have on your CVP.
  • Determine the resources necessary to enhance your CVP, creating sustainable competitive advantage in ways rivals find hard to copy.
  • Explore financial strategies for significant digitalisation investments.

    Recalibrating the Firm’s Business Model

    As digital tools generate more value, relative to the humans whose practice they enable, so traditional business models based on billable hours become less effective. Aligning your firm with new value drivers is crucial for superior performance and profitability. 

    We can help you: 

    • Design new measures of success to assess the firm’s strategic vitality and levels of sustainable competitive advantage, as it becomes more digitally enabled.
    • Develop innovative new pricing strategies that better align with the new forms of value being delivered to clients.
    • Align the different systems and structures that make up the firm’s business model, to minimise conflicts and tensions that erode performance.
    • Negotiate new performance measures for your partners and people, aligned with digitally-enabled value and the behaviours required to optimise that.

    Examples of our digitalisation advisory work

    Most of the digitalisation advisory work that we do is built into wider strategy engagements. Given that digitalisation cannot be separated from other strategic and organisational aspects of the firm, this is appropriate. Besides that, examples of our work where the focus has been entirely on digitalisation include:

    Digital strategy module for the LT&IC programme

    Since its inception, Rob has delivered a multi-session module on digital strategy for the well-regarded Legal Technology & Innovation Certificate (LT&IC). This module is designed to provide participants with the knowledge required to respond strategically to emergent technologies, whether in a law firm or an in-house legal department. It blends content from two streams: (a) best practice in approaching strategy, including the theory behind sustainable competitive advantage and strategising; and (b) how emergent technologies are disrupting markets and client legal needs, and how law firms can evolve their service portfolios to align with those new needs.

    London node of the Global Legal Hackathon (GLH)

    The GLH was held in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Cambridge Strategy Group was responsible for organising and hosting the GLH event in London in each of those three years.

    We were also instrumental in the genesis of the GLH. The idea was born at an event on the future of legal services that we hosted in London in 2017. Over the three years, >20,000 participants across 75 countries competed over a single weekend each year, to see who could develop the best proof of concept for a radically innovative idea. Teams came from many of the world’s leading law firms, in-house legal departments of major corporations and financial institutions, and legal technology service providers.