Two separate distinguished speakers at LegalTech discussed themes that converge on some central points that legal tech vendors, including us, can put to use in serving the legal profession:
- Professor Luke Williams, of New York University explored disruption and innovation in technology.
- Jason Thomas said “Life is about finding passion” and surveyed life-changing enablers, such as technology and the wisdom of crowds in solving problems.
Passion is an intense feeling…a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement. Can people get excited about technology? Yes, there are entire tradeshows dedicated to such enthusiasm.
Ask anyone that has an iPhone or an iPad how they feel about their mobile device. Typically they will respond quite positively. Just look at the line outside an Apple store during a product launch. Passion is how companies want their users to feel about their products; it is nirvana for company marketing departments. Companies spend millions of dollars striving for their customers to feel passionate about their products.
Mr. Thomas examined the growth of technology and how far we’ve come in 20 years – that mobile devices are so entrenched in our lives to the extent we almost can’t imagine life without them. If you leave work and forget your mobile device, he pointed out, it’s quite likely you turn around to go back to get it.
Disruptive innovation describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.- Clayton Christensen
Disruptive innovation, coined by Clay Christensen, refers to the creation of a new market or displacing or radically changing an existing one. In order to achieve disruptive innovation, companies need to find the right customers for their products as described in a Harvard Business Review article, Marketing Malpractice, The Cause and the Cure:
The structure of a market, as seen from customers’ point of view, is very simple. When people need to get a job done, they hire a product or service to do it for them. The marketer’s task is to understand what jobs periodically arise in customers’ lives for which they might hire products the company could make. - Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook, Taddy Hall
Netflix, as Ryan McClead presented, is a great example of disruptive innovation; replacing Blockbuster for the renting and viewing of movies at home. Apple products have been disrupters for years. I worked for Apple in the early years when the Macintosh was first launched, fighting tooth and nail with Compaq laptops, and look at where Macintosh computers are today.
Applications to Legal Technology
Both notions are neatly nested in the launch LexisNexis Firm Manager, our cloud-based practice management solution for small law firms. We set out to develop an easy to use tool for independent attorneys that has ‘less’ functionality than traditional premise-based practice management solutions, but is priced attractively, to a growing market that is comfortable with a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution.
For the past 18 months we developed a new vision for the application with the input of hundreds of attorneys – the crowd. We applied the latest innovation processes and developed hypotheses and tested these by getting out of the building and meeting with solo law firms around the country. We met face-to-face in their offices (some in basements), in hotels, at conferences, and of course bars, among other locations.
In the process we gathered lots of ideas and also got feedback as to what we absolutely had to change. We can say Lexis Nexis Firm Manager was truly designed outside-in. So instead of being a necessary tool to manage the practice, it’s been designed by lawyers for lawyers to be a passion enabler and delighter.
We’d invite you to take a 30-day free trial of LexisNexis Firm Manager and let us know whether or not you think our words match our innovation. I’d personally welcome the feedback of any legal professionals that try out our new product. You can reach me at susan(dot)harman(at)lexisnexis(dot)com.
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