Current Awareness Strategy Blog

Why should we future-proof our library and information service?

In the past year, Vable has been exploring the challenges of migration projects, for example, in one post I discuss the potential blockers to migrating to a new piece of software. One of the main points I make is that new and improved systems ensure that your library and information service remain relevant. 

“The future is here now. There is no point talking about what is to come, we have our hands full” (Canadian Lawyer, Jan 2024)

Firms that fail to invest in their future and adapt to new ways of doing business risk falling behind. They must assess whether their digital efforts align with their overall strategy and how they prioritise client needs in this transformation. Exploring digital transformation is key to staying relevant and competitive. Are you ready for the future, and have you made your information service indispensable? 

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Digital transformation and the capabilities required to sustain it

Before we start, what is “digital transformation”? 

One organisation defines it as, “the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers”. (The Enterprisers Project)

Commentator George Westerman defines it as, “a radical rethinking of how an organization uses technology, people and processes to fundamentally change business performance”. (CIO, 20th September 2020)

Although thisMcKinsey blog post is several years old, its ideas remain valid. It expands on the concept of digital transformation against the backdrop of the pandemic. This more recent Thomson Reuters report from 2023 confirms the ongoing impact of the pandemic, 

In speaking with these firms, the rise of remote work and technological advances that began in the last decade and were accelerated during the pandemic helped drive formal digital initiatives. As the leader of one firm that had implemented a strategy in the years just before the pandemic explained: “We have undergone a transformation where everything is digital, so it’s easier to work remotely and to collaborate.

This fundamental change in business performance can only be sustained if the right digital capabilities are in place. The McKinsey blog post outlines six digital capacities; diverse tech talent, customer-centric design thinking, working agile, data literacy, next-generation technology, and finally, analytical reasoning.  

Two of these struck a chord with me; (1) customer-centric design thinking and (2) next gen technology. Both are crucial when thinking about how organisations approach the idea of future-proofing their information services.


Putting the customer at the centre of your design thinking

Clients are expecting more from their professional advisors, and in a competitive landscape, your organisation should constantly be asking itself how it can diversify client offerings and differentiate itself within the market. In the TR Report, respondents were asked “what is seen to be the value to the firm of digital transformation?” 

44% of those respondents who highlighted efficiency also highlighted related improvements for client service. “It’s really around being more efficient at what we do, whether that is internally among us at the firm or being more efficient for our clients,” said one respondent. “Overall, it is going to make us better at what we do.

Indeed, given a competitive marketplace, some firm leaders view a C-suite-level digital strategy as a necessity. “It’s really to remain competitive,” said one respondent whose firm adopted a formal strategy within the past two years. “We have to, is the short answer.” 

While digital transformation is about aligning the law firm and their clients with the sort of collaborative technology clients expect, getting the right array of internal tools is also essential for maximum efficiency. Your tech idea might be brilliant but without great design and follow-up, your clients might not want to use it.

What is design thinking? It’s a dynamic idea used to describe how organisations can adjust their problem-solving approaches to respond to rapidly changing environments—and create maximum impact and shareholder value. For example, library and information people tell us that end users want to take control over their current awareness, which is why we developed MyVable - our dashboard solution.  


Ensure that the technology is fit for purpose

The second issue I mentioned concerning digital transformation was “next-gen technology”. Tech is no longer a niche interest for the partner who dabbles, it’s big - and essential to the - success of the business. It’s a growing industry, for instance, look at how GenAI has affected legal recruitment over the past year!

If the tech isn’t fit for purpose, the project will fail. Team Vable has written extensively about this and for success, you must put the needs of your end users (and clients) first. You need their interest and engagement; how we get people excited and turn them into champions will be influenced by the culture of the organisation and the personality and drive of the project manager. 

For instance, with current awareness automation, people want to reduce time spent on manual processes and automating repetitive operations but it needs staff commitment and training to get it up and running. However, once this initial investment has been completed, end-users can reap the benefits and make the most of unexpected opportunities.

Why tech implementations fail and how you can prevent this? 

Content aggregation solutions: A perfect match of tech and client

Vable’s customisable, self-service solution, MyVable, is a perfect example of technology that is “fit for purpose”. It has the potential to revolutionise information delivery, change mindsets by presenting relevant, accurate, and personalised information. It’s designed to be simple so you empower your end-users to subscribe themselves to a range of newsletters, as well as create personal alerts from available topics. You can also:

  • Remove the fear of missing out on knowledge by having all your resources in one place 
  • Increase engagement and encourage best practice by bringing people together
  • Choose what you want to see, including branding. Make MyVable Your Vable 
  • Share high-quality, targeted news and information with friends, clients and colleagues

As one HBR article concluded, a successful digital transformation of an organisation happens because leaders returned to the fundamentals: “they focused on changing the mindset of its members as well as the organizational culture and processes before they decide what digital tools to use and how to use them. What the members envision to be the future of the organization drove the technology, not the other way around”.

Future-proofing in a legal setting isn’t about the latest must-have technology. It’s not even about talent or data, it’s something more - it’s the mindset of change. As I quoted above, it’s that purposeful, deliberate, and intentional desire to build capabilities outside the classic approach to the practice of law. Managing partners can’t afford not to future-proof the organisation, because the future has already happened!

Are you ready?

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