Fringe Legal #69: why is adoption a problem with legal tech?
Adoption is the holy grail problem to solve when it comes to technology. Think about the tools you have open right now for work, are your colleagues using them too? Are they even aware of it?
Even applications that you might consider to have high adoption took some time to get there. Microsoft Office 365 is the most widely used enterprise cloud service by user count. One out of every five corporate employees uses an Office 365 cloud service. More than 90% of the companies with at least 100 users are using Office 365.
But it took 8 years for it to get there - and that’s when Office was already a known entity!
How can firms improve the adoption of technology?
Here’s the short version:
- adoption is not a new problem to solve, and there is no magic bullet
- get the right tools to the people
- make sure they know how to use it
- create a clear link between using the tool and its impact on the person/work they do
A recent survey of 558 attorneys suggested that only 37% of lawyers are happy with the firm’s technology. What’s more important is that these attorneys feel strongly about the potential of technology.
That signals that there is a disconnect. So what’s missing?
Do you have the right tools (and yes, I purposefully use that word because technology should augment the workflow)? Are the tools being used in the right way?
If you are in a position to evaluate technology, do you consider yourself a digital plumber or a visionary? (credit to my friend Chris K).
One isn’t better than the other, but it’s important to ensure alignment with the business goals. The timing and action matter a lot.
If you need another way to think about this, this quote - from The West Wing TV Show - comes to mind:
I have difficulty sometimes talking to people who don't race sailboats. When I was a teenager, I crewed Larchmont to Nassau on a 58-foot sloop called Cantice. There was a little piece of kelp that was stuck to the hull, and even though it was little, you don't want anything stuck to the hull. So, I take a boat hook on a pole and I stick it in the water and I try to get the kelp off, when seven guys start screaming at me, right? 'Cause now the pole is causing more drag than the kelp was.
Focusing only on plumbing when you are aiming for exponential growth will only lead to more drag. Likewise, trying to win the race when your boat’s leaking isn’t a strategy for success either.
What’s clear from my many conversations is that it’s difficult to be both. If you are a “big picture” thinker, then build a team of master operators, and understand what is working today and what needs to change.
Give the operators their marching orders and get out of the way.
If you are the operator, then have faith in the vision and solve the problem in front of you.
If you are a visionary then be imaginative, and allow yourself to drift beyond your comfort zone:
Who controls the technology rollout?
Can you evangelize the use of technology? There are no magic bullets, but what I’ve seen work is when you:
- lean into the uncomfortable - ask questions, and listen (especially hard to do when you are the expert).
- make things simple - true masters have the uncanny ability to break down even the most complex topics into the simplest terms. Get rid of acronyms, feature lists, and the fluff.
- Make it about your audience - why should I care? Connect what you’ve learned and make the outcome for your audience what matters. Restate the problem, explain how the tool helps, and what the expected measurable outcome is as a result.
I’m curious to hear what you’ve tried that’s worked (or not)?
Want to keep going? Here are some other items that might be of interest (some mine, some from the web):
- Revenue is a strong motivator for adoption - you may want to read my notes on whether firms should charge their clients for technology?
- How Dechert unlocks the value for clients using Legal Tech
- make no small plans
- Bundling and unbundling - phases of bundling
Lastly, Mónica Rodríguez shared this awesome State of Web3 report. It’s a loooong read but well worth it. The quote that Monica highlights should captivate:
“In the ‘90s, many thought the idea that all companies would one day become internet companies was crazy. We see similar naysaying with cryptocurrency today — or, as many in our industry call it, “FUD,” meaning Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. So, FUDders be damned, allow us to make a bold prediction:
One day in the near future, all companies will become crypto companies, complete with a “Connect wallet” button on their homepages. And web3 is how they’ll get there.”
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