Digitalization and how we look at the world through it
julkaistu ELSA News Special Issue 2/2017
When representatives of ELSA Turku approached us and requested an article for their magazine, the choice of topic was quite easy. Agens Oy, (hereafter also Agens) as a young, still much in research & development stage company, could not lecture very highly and mightly about how legal service industry should be or where it must be going. However, what we can do and are proud to do, is tell how we have decided to approach the big D of our times – Digitalization.
A word about the name of the company – Agens Oy is built on the idea of providing a service for the need of our clients, in the sense that once a task is assigned to Agens, it is, or will be, taken care of, done. Name is, as enlightened reader may have gathered, derived from the concept of agency, acting as an agent, on behalf of principal. That is the idea and driving motivation behind our company and we implement that to our best capability in our service portfolio.
In order to understand, or even reasonably discuss, digitalization one must define it to an extent. Gartner defines it as” the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a digital business.” What is” the use of digital technologies”? When has one’s business model changed? How does one move, and when is the transfer complete, to digital business? Computers and software have been around already for a while and certainly are in use at almost all walks of life. Same goes for smartphones, tablets, social medias and such. Is a legal office in” digital business” if it has a website with contact email on it? Some would say it is. Others would say that maybe it should not even try to be. Digitalization, however, is not about the size of data rooms or number of computers or flashiness of one’s website. Digital equals data. Data equals new revenue and value producing opportunities, as these are born out of understanding the needs and wishes of your clients better in quality, quantity and time.
Digital equals also metering of everything. Digital systems gather data of latencies, response times, uptimes, downtimes, server loads – list goes on and on. Digital tools make it possible to follow one’s processes more accurately than before. Through the data of the processual facts of one’s own business operations or transactions it is possible to analyse these and try to understand where is room for improvement.
Digitalization makes it possible to understand the facts of your clients better and the realities of your own operation better. What does this mean in the terms of actual business, and how do we at Agens Oy see this?
Well, what is obvious for anyone visiting our website, is that we are building strongly on digital tools and their efficiencies. These tools make it possible for us to gain different advantages on repetitive operations and maintain a service that learns as we help our clients. As we produce more and more of certain documents, our process improves as we can better identify bottlenecks and variations and thus reduce these.
As our understanding of our clients’ needs and wishes grows, we can improve our service portfolio based on real needs. Our current model employs specialists – senior lawyers and business rainmakers – in the service development phase in order to take different issues and likely needs into account.
Here it is good to note that the world of legal tech is not a complete one. There are a lot of different initiatives going on and different markets are in different stages of maturity when it comes to buying technology and taking it into use – and constantly improving on the ways of using it, in order to get the best out of it.
Agens’ solution, Agens Platform, that we are developing is a platform of contracting, which makes it possible for parties to reach agreement and then document it in a solid, proper way, independent of time or place. This will be made possible through our interface where agreements and contracts can be drafted quickly and efficiently, tailored for the need of individual circumstances, signed digitally and transferred to parties’ cloud archives.
Our solution will also be available as a tool for professionals to enhance the efficiency of drafting by bringing different contractual clauses as nuanced versions easily selectable and comparable in the interface. Agens Platform is built in a way that makes it possible for professionals to use their own clauses and materials – and we will not be jealous of that. Our tool will be available cloud-based with very little overhead in introducing the tool into use. available in same, user-friendly, intuitive interface as our own client interface. Digitalization is frightening for some, maybe for many, surprisingly many, which in turn means that technology must be easy to use, easy to approach in order to be useful.
What is easy? For us, it means a lot of things, not just the opposite of ‘hard’. Time and place-independence is easiness in terms of availability. Clear, readable, simple text is also easiness. As screens scale down and more and more browsing and online acting is done with smartphones, screen estate is in critical supply – and the space you have must be used reasonably.
Affordability, due to smart use of resources and digital tools, is also a part of easiness. Making questions easy to answer is easiness. Easy is intelligent and smart choices made to serve. This is one of the key things with digitalization – the amount of digital services doing about the same thing, fulfilling the same need, is potentially limitless, and the experience clients have is crucial for success. How do you know when you have a good customer experience? Analyse the data you have. Leading a business in digital era must be done through data, through facts. There simply are no excuses for going by gut feeling or hunch.
Digitalization makes it possible to connect things never before connected and create new opportunities through sharing. Platforms tend to create business within themselves – members finding unforeseen cooperation schemes, buying services, selling services within the platform, while getting advantage of the data and connectivity the platform has. This all facilitates better, more focused encountering of problems and solutions, needs and resources. One of the ideas Agens is also running with is making these encounters more focused, more informed, better matching and thus becoming a middleman that is actually added value for both counterparties.
However cool the machines are, however nice the possibilities platforms bring, it is always dependent on the individual human beings who come up with the hoops the machine is then made to jump through, it is innovation that drives all these wonderful things we have. Understanding what digital tools and connectivity can bring about is critical, as are the special skills to use these, but human spirit of innovation is still required almost every step of the way. Data is great, but who decides what to do with the results it yields? Artificial intelligence is awesome, once you have taught it to do the things you need it doing, but simply plugging a machine in and on does not generate revenue – innovation does. Agens believes in strong cooperation with our networks – companies, legal professionals, different partner schemes we are a member of, and most importantly, our customers. Following the path of our customers, and identifying new paths through different outlets, keeps us honest with what actually matters – identifying the true nature of the problem and crafting a solid, implementable and accurate solution.