Monday, August 26, 2013

ILTA's Special Ops Track: Making Sure IT Matters and IT: The Catalyst

The "Special Ops" set of sessions at ILTA this year was a set of really great ideas (I suspect Mary Abraham's push for alternative formats is behind it, though praise is due to team coordinators Betsy Parker, Chris Hunt, Jim McCue, and Sean Power.).  Essentially these sessions were organized around unusual formats, like alternative reality, TED talks, or roundtables, and addressed a broad range of topics of interest to legal technologists. 

I participated Monday morning in the session titled "Making Sure IT Matters," (#spec1),  which featured a crowd-sourced list of five topics, and facilitated discussion on a single topic at each of five tables, culminating in presentations to the whole group on each smaller group's discussion.  At my table of fourteen or so people, all but one or two contributed to the discussion, which focused on how to make sure IT "gets it," that is, understands the business of law and also lawyer's work and needs.  The small group that organized the discussion will be developing a mind map and probably also some additional publications (like blog posts or articles) on the results of that effort, so I won't attempt to do so here. Regardless of that additional effort, I feel that the most impact occurred in the room at the time, when so many people had the opportunity to think about and participate in their own education and development. 

A later Special Ops session was titled IT:  The Catalyst #spec5, featuring four very different speakers addressing a very broad range of topics in one hour.  The format imitated that of the TED talks. 

Hat tips to Angela Dowd , Tim Golden , and Ben Wightwick for tweets that supplemented my notes as I drafted this post.
Bill Caraher-- Disruption, Risk and Opportunity 

The business model of the law firm is going to have to change. If they want to stand out, law firms are going to have to buy technology, build it, or partner with someone who can supply it.

The top technology spend in law firms is still SharePoint.  Many users don't use SharePoint.  He doesn't think this should be our focus.  He is skeptical about the value of portals and the social features in SharePoint 2013.   His current investment priority is security.

Typically we are not rewarded for taking risk, in fact the contrary.  Clients have started to look more seriously at firm capabilities.

Bring Your Own Device ("BYOD") seems harmless but has serious risks.  The total cost of BYOD is quite high.  Big banks have also become worried about outside counsel who BYOD, because their regulators prohibit them from BYOD.

Phil Schneidermeyer --  Culture and Diversity as Catalysts for Continuous Improvement 

Every conversation with a client of his executive recruiting firm starts with culture.  They are trying to get the fit right between recruits and companies. One challenge is, do you try to acheive a fit with the current culture or the target culture?  Is there any mention of the people side of what we've accomplished on our resumes?

Culture is a sense of what the organization is, its history, attitudes, beliefs, and the like.

Corporations with shared values and that are driven by purpose and values tend to outperform ones that don't. 

Training, onboarding, and orientation are critical for culture.  Corporate culture has risen as a risk that corporations are considering. 

Phil recommends that leaders should be role models for the culture; reward those demonstrating good behavior [And punish those who violate cultural norms?] Peers should weigh culture heavily in considering their own roles and opportunities.

Diversity encompasses gender, race, and generations.  Generational diversity can cause tension around technology and work ethics. 

A really good reason for diversity is that diverse customers are best served by a diverse team.  Robust conversation and effective planning and execution amongst your team  is enhanced by working with people who don't think like you do. 

Ryan McClead-- The Internet of Things

There are more things on the "internet of things" than there are people on the planet.  These things communicate well on their own but don't talk amongst themselves.

Several competing technologies may lead to uniform standards for things on the internet of things.

What is the internet of things?  In quantum physics two particles can be "entangled." When you spin one of the particles, the other one is spun (observed?) as well.  With the increase of devices that are on the internet, we're starting to see the internet and the physical world become entangled.  The internet of things allows for "spooky action at a distance."

He thinks the "Twine" device is the coolest thing on the internet.  It senses temperature, vibration, and light.  He can tie it into the "If Then Then That" service.  He could have his device turn off light bulbs or warn him if his houseplants are too hot.

These sensors will get cheaper, more powerful, and smaller.  At a certain point the physical world can turn into the interface for the network.  It might feel like other technologies that have become invisible, like motors. Things like Twine and the internet of things have the potential to make computing background.
Scott Rechtschaffen--"I Had This Great Idea For A Presentation"

As I tweeted out at the time I saw it, Scott's presentation was brilliant, but essentially impossible to blog. 

His main point was, the legal industry needs to move online.  Why would clients work with law firms that aren't online when they wouldn't work with a bank, airline, concert venue, or other business that wasn't online?  [In similar vein, Kingsley Martin later in the week made the pungent observation that, if an airline's website was like law firms' websites, it would have pictures of the pilots, descriptions of how great its aircraft were, and the like, but no way to buy a ticket.]

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