How to build successful, collaborative, digital relationships with your clients
With the Covid-19 pandemic having forced firms to embed digital technologies and accept a more flexible working model, new opportunities for closer collaboration both internally and with clients are just over the horizon.
But how can these opportunities be best realised? And what are the potential challenges to a digital collaboration nirvana?
All the key issues were discussed in Briefing’s 30 March 2021 webcast, with panellists: Tom Rayson, legal director at the London Stock Exchange Group, Caroline White-Robinson, head of knowledge management and learning & development at Shoosmiths, and Dan Hauck and Alvin Tedjamulia, chief product officer and chief technology officer respectively at NetDocuments.
Together, they identified the most pressing collaboration priorities facing law firms and their clients:
- Developing a consistent end–user experience for documents and information-sharing
- Building a single source of truth across common infrastructure, both for clients and internal law firm users
- Ensuring security measures are present to protect that infrastructure against malicious actors
- Avoiding an ‘always-on’ digital culture while finding ways to keep people connected and engaged with work
- Balancing increased automation with the need for emotional intelligence and human oversight.
As a result of the pandemic, a revolution in how we work is underway, said White-Robinson: with productivity on the increase – up as much as 20% during lockdown, according to NetDocuments’ research – remote working has shown up the flaws in a culture of ‘presenteeism,’ she said. However, new rules need to be laid down to protect people from an ‘always-on’ culture and to foster collaboration. “People don’t need to be present in the office – no more jackets on the backs of office chairs – but we do need to connect and engage people.”
There’s now no option but to collaborate digitally, said Rayon, who added that operating permanently on platforms makes well-defined processes fundamental to collaboration. Defining skills and processes in order to use that tech will also be a necessity, White-Robinson agreed, as will new, more deliberate methods of knowledge-sharing and improved emotional intelligence programmes.
Adopting cloud platforms
Collaboration with clients across the globe requires both a single source of truth and a consistent end-user experience, said Tedjamulia – needs which play into the increasing shift towards cloud-based solutions. Protecting firms’ and clients’ data from cybercriminals will be a major challenge to overcome in order to reap these rewards, however.
And effectively extracting useful data from those platforms is a top priority in-house, said Rayon – one which, again, requires clear processes as well as technology to achieve. And, if real value is to be extracted from these systems, Tedjamulia said, that will have to include a close look at change management processes, and an examination of how new systems are adopted and information is assimilated.
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