Guest post: Getting your data right – unlocking the value

In this post on data & legal engineering, Wavelength Law’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Ben Gardner, continues on the theme of utilising new data structures to deliver legal engineering solutions within law firms and legal departments.
The previous post assessed the fragmented information landscape of many law firms and legal departments and introduced a smarter approach to managing data using Enterprise Knowledge Maps. In this post, Ben delves deeper into Enterprise Knowledge Maps and the power of data in innovation.
Unlocking the value in your data
What is an Enterprise Knowledge Map and what can you do with it?
An Enterprise Knowledge Map is a new type of data warehouse that enables iterative exploration of data, eliminating the need to predefine the questions that will be asked, as with traditional data warehouses. This creates a highly flexible and agile data source that can be used to power multiple applications, as illustrated in the figure below [click to enlarge].

Here are three of the many benefits that can be derived from the application of Enterprise Knowledge Maps:
– Improving search experience – Contextualisation and aggregation of the data based on the matters, clients, people, etc., in a linked network delivers improved accuracy in terms of returned hits from a search, but also the capacity to create 3600 views showing what is known about an entity. For example, a 3600 view of a matter could show metadata that describes the matter pulled from the new matter opening portal, a list of fee earners who have recorded time including how much time and their position in the organisation, a table of key documents and a summary of the financials associated with the matter. Further 3600 degree views for other entities could also be constructed and, as the data is connected in the network that makes up the Enterprise Knowledge Map, it is possible to follow these connections just as you would a hyperlink on the internet. This means a user could surf from one entity to the next exploring the data in a very natural fashion.
– Developing solutions rapidly – A large part of application development involves getting at and combining the data needed for the solution being built. By investing in an Enterprise Knowledge Map this aspect of application development is eliminated/minimised as an information source only needs to be added once and then can be reused. One of the big advantages of the new data structures that are used to build Enterprise Knowledge Maps is that they can grow organically. The flexibility and agility of the Enterprise Knowledge Map means that developers can add new sources without having to redesign the whole data warehouse. Instead, new data is added and the model underlying the map is extended.
– Building recommendation engines – A recommendation engine matches what you are doing with information or products that are likely to be of interest to you. One of the big challenges around this in an organisation is being able to capture enough accurate metadata on which to perform matching. Documents in a DMS are generally inconsistently tagged and so the challenge is often getting users to capture accurate metadata. In all likelihood, the most accurate piece of metadata data associated with a document is the matter it was produced for or from which the precedent was derived. With an Enterprise Knowledge Map, it is possible to start with this piece of information and expand outwards across the network to discover additional metadata that has been enter elsewhere in other systems, this gives context. Equally if a lawyer is signed into her laptop, working on a matter and drafting using a specific template then it is possible to use the same approach to discover information about the lawyer u and what she is currently doing. Armed with these two sets of metadata it is possible to start to match the lawyer based on rich contextual profiles, rather than a few disparate pieces of metadata that might be traditionally captured.
Data is key to innovation
So, if data is the fuel that drives the innovation process, then an Enterprise Knowledge Map is a framework that allows you to combine your data in a flexible and agile way that will transform the way you can reuse data. This is a new generation of data warehouse that can be grown organically and avoids much of the need for up front design. This approach reduces cost significantly and improves speed of development. If you can remove the barriers to accessing and reusing information within your organisation you will super charge your innovation capacity.
This is why we argue that while innovation technologies like artificial intelligence, expert systems, document automation and data visualisation get all the attention, it is the innovation in the way we can structure data that can be more transformational than any of these technologies alone.
Get your data structure right and you will breakdown your silos, simplify access and enhance decision making.