Key Takeaways: FLIP November Open House - Digitising a Traditional Business
For our November Open House, FLIP partnered up with Osome to discuss the challenges and experiences of digitisation in various sectors.
Meet Our Panel (From L-R)
1. Hedy Hiew (Community Manager, FLIP)
The Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP) is an industry-wide initiative to drive innovation and encourage the adoption and invention of new technology amongst law firms, legal departments and legal tech startups, to create a vibrant legal technology ecosystem in Singapore.
2. Vlad Sharuda (VP Partnerships, Osome)
Osome is a cloud-based Corporate Services provider leveraging on technology to bring more quality and affordability to a traditional industry.
3. Eunice Ooi (Co-Founder, Spacesense)
Spacesense gives businesses complete control over how they lease, furnish, design and maintain office space.
4. Nicholas Brocklebank ( Senior Associate, Global Legal Solutions Group) :
Integrated global group empowering the entire legal industry by delivering the highest quality of legal support at the lowest possible price point achievable via embracing total service delivery efficiency
Why do businesses need to digitise?
Nicholas: Digitisation for law firms may not be relevant if they operate like a traditional law firm. However it is incredibly important to clients. For instance, access of electronic records from the beginning to the end of a matter allows them to have visibility of the case progress, and aids communication between the lawyer and client.
What is meant by digitising / digitisation?
Eunice: ‘Digitising’ means changing from an analog form into a digital form. On the other hand, ‘digitisation’ is the utilisation of data to make informed decisions. Making informed and smart decisions timely without frustrations are important to those who are not well-versed in the specific field.
Vlad: Companies give power back to their clients to receive info and advice through digitisation. This allows for more precision and less risk in decision-making.
Where are your respective companies at in the digitising process, and what are some of the challenges you have faced so far?
Eunice: Most clients still use cheques in real estate transactions. The market culture, for the most part, has not shifted to digital. Behavioural shift is the most challenging in any transformation.
Vlad: Osome has gone digital from the very beginning. Benefits of setting up in Singapore include the fact that the government is very digital-friendly and encouraging of tech. In 2020 for example, ACRA will release APIs to enable auto-filling of forms, so companies prepared for digitising will be at an advantage. The challenge in Osome's business is to adapt the platform for different jurisdictions.
Nicholas: As firms such as GLS offers fixed-price solutions, to maximise gains we need to automate as much as possible.
Nicholas, where do you think the legal sector stands in digital transformation compared to other industries?
The short answer is - very far behind. In this regard, in-house teams have been more receptive of technology. Total, one of our clients, managed to shorten their timeline for a particular process from 3 months to 1 week. In my opinion, litigation-based firms should be at the forefront in embracing digitisation.
Eunice, how and when did you digitise your business?
spaceSense digitised as quickly as possible since the objective was always to become a seamless touch point for clients in sorting out their workplace needs. spaceSense empowers clients to use the online portal for accessing available office space and other offerings which are directly posted by landlords and service providers. Also the clients can track their office lease expiry and service enquiries.
Vlad, do you think digitisation is a need, or still a 'nice-to-have'?
Digitisation is moving towards 'need' as consumers are catching up and demanding more with less. My advice would be to make it a 'need' as early as possible.
Eunice, do you experience higher expectations from clients to go digital?
Corporate clients’ expectation to go digital in managing their office space is not growing as fast. We've experienced some market skepticism, which naturally comes with providing a free tool which promises to value-add in their office search and setup experience. Fortunately, having clients from family offices, tech, investment and financial institutions provide credibility to spaceSense. The freemium model of service from spaceSense is no difference from using services such as Gmail, Whatsapp and Grab. It sets a higher standard for the market as well.
Nicholas, due to the high number of legal solutions out there, how do law firms navigate the legal tech landscape and choose the right tools to help digitise?
The main problem law firms face is with sourcing tech and implementing it. The current practice is usually through trial-and-error with uncertain results. Due to the significant risk in sourcing tech, high tech solutions need to be based on low tech processes that are done well. The tech/digitalisation merely amplifies processes.
Another issue is the low incentive to change in a traditional law firm. Since law firms usually operate on a billable-hour system, it is a contradiction of such a business model to get the work done faster using automation. Hence, to increase incentives to change, firms should shift to a value-based billing model.
What is one key takeaway you would like the audience to get from tonight's session?
Vlad: Take advantage of available tools to begin the digitising process.
Eunice: Choose the right partners to help you in the process of digital transformation, someone who will follow through to your final destination.
To law firms: Take time to decide type of law firm you are today and what you want to be tomorrow.
To clients: There is a new way of doing things which are made available by current technology. Legal practice is no longer confined to the traditional model of billable hours.
Thanks Vlad, Eunice and Nicholas for sharing your thoughts with us!