by Eric Hunter*

The future of business driven collaboration is something that is taking place every day within consumer usage of social media, search and the resulting collaboration analytics run in the background. Examples of this range from using Google Search, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Hashtags, or the Bing integrated searches within the Windows 8 operating system on the Surface Pro and Google’s search integration within the Chrome Pixel. What’s driving these changes within these companies beyond competition between each other? The key lies within data analytics and their usage by these companies in generating targeted ad revenue based off our consumer behavior. For our purposes, what are some legal industry integrated workflow analytics that will be affected by these unfolding elements within consumer social media?

Integration & Collaboration

Social workflow integration examples are… the way communication takes place through the news feed in Facebook and Skype, or through Circles in G+, or through G+ streams recorded with interactive commentary, or through the hashtag mediums in Twitter and Instagram. These workflow innovations allow communication, collaboration, and marketing messaging to hit a broader audience, a more targeted audience, and relevant audience faster, better and more cohesive that at any time in recorded human history. In a way these are steps towards a more singular consciousness in collaboration, though still a far cry from Ray Kursweil’s singularity. This collaborative move towards a singular consciousness is only going to continue, and while this path forward has integrated within the legal community to an extent, it seems to be resonating the most through the knowledge management, marketing & competitive strategy groups.

This makes sense from the consumer search and social media standpoint. What innovations in Knowledge and Information Management are better led than by the aforementioned consumer giants that drive our consumer behavior forward while organizing the world’s information? How do we derive competitive strategy from consumer led social media and collaboration workflow integration as industry side vendors adapt, or the very same consumer led vendors integrate platforms and systems of their own into business systems and workflow?

Data Analytics & Data Mining

The answer lies in the data analytics these consumer systems use. How Facebook, Twitter, Bing, and Google successfully target their search/email and consumer knowledge management platforms for ad revenue. By targeted analytics geared to track consumer preferences and user behavior, this is an integration future that is developing rapidly, and will only continue to do so. With predictive coding and artificial intelligence gaining prominence, these trends continue to gain presence and focus which the legal industry is only starting to truly capitalize on.

By merging big data analytics into legal workflow through social media and search collaboration, legal is looking at a major shift in client service, client interaction, and workflow innovation. This leads towards the potential for workflow, alternative staffing, innovations in collaboration, client touch, and alternative business models.

Client Service, Workflow & Velocity Billing

In client service, we have the ability to generate new business models based off multiple collaboration points through real time data. There is an example brought out of the insurance industry I’ve heard coined Velocity Insurance. The concept lies within the ability for insurance companies to track us while we drive, and essentially build reports based off real time analytics while adjusting our insurance rates accordingly. Examples being; if we drive too fast, drive too slow, drive just right – our insurance billing rate based off projected risk could potentially deviate from hour to hour, day to day. Due to a relatively shocking invasion of privacy (but not so much by today’s standards), this may not be not be the immediate biggest hit with consumers at the moment.

However, when applied to legal, I prefer to coin the term Velocity Billing. In this instance we open a level of transparency for the client, where the client is able to run analytics based off previous case history, litigation, settlement, hours worked, success rate, etc… based off related attorney, practice specifics, practice areas, research applied, etc… to estimate project scope, estimated success rate, relative risk, and billable interaction at any time during the billable process.

Internally, the firm is able to run a broader scope of analytics on the resources applied, project teams and resources in place, with a much more detailed history per attorney and practice group relative to multiple client sets.

What emerges from the firm’s standpoint is a moving narrative of attorney strength, litigation history, and where project teams best fit within the organization relative to client. What emerges from the client perspective is a nuanced personalized touch best fit to their litigation & settlement needs, time invested in services, projected cost ratios, and projected payout expectations. What emerges for both client and law firm is a new business and profit model built off multiple collaboration points and resulting targeted analytics. This is applied the same way these targeted social systems deliver their services to generate maximum ad revenue based off our learned behavior, and tracked search and social preferences.

Moving Forward

As we move forward, the innovation potentials led by artificial intelligence, big data analytics and predictive coding continue to fuel innovations in social media and consumer search in learned behavior. These in turn will only continue to put us in closer touch and collaboration than we’ve experienced before; as consumers, clients, customers and business leaders. How we capitalize on these trends as an industry will take movement on the law firm side, the client side and the integrating vendors side. The driving business reasons behind social media and consumer search is leading the way. Our clients and integrating vendors are already adapting. The question the legal industry faces is just how quickly we will choose to adapt and integrate within our evolving business models as time moves forward.

* Eric Hunter is the Director of Knowledge, Innovation & Technology Strategies at Bradford & Barthel LLP and Executive Director of Spherical Models LLC. Over the past three years, Eric has integrated a social media, knowledge and collaboration environment within the firm and is constantly looking to leverage innovation solutions to enhance client service interaction while driving business optimization solutions internally. Eric leads the Spherical Models team focusing on spherical business models through innovations in big data, social and collaborative cloud solutions. Eric speaks and writes on competitive strategy, evolving business models, big data and collaborative cloud solutions globally and will be attending next week’s LawTech Futures event in London. Follow Eric on Twitter @thelihunter.