FTIL 2018 : The Innovation Platter

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Feeling Lucky

I had a hunch that it was going to be a lucky day while traveling to Hong Kong for the FT Innovative Lawyers Asia-Pacific Award on the 7th June. I know I was putting pressure on Lucky 7, but this was just days after I had written a post on Lucky 7 having completed 7 years as CEO of Anand and Anand.

The event witnessed a mélange of innovation themes from social issues to technology to culture, people and structures. The diversity of the themes being discussed also reflected the diversity of our innovations being recognized. And yes, no prizes for guessing that our firm was recognized for seven innovative projects.

I can go on ad infinitum about each one of them, but I will place them all on an innovation platter for you to consume as per your taste and appetite.

Bon Appétit

#1 – Award for Innovation in “Technology & Data”

The prized award for Most Innovative Use of Technology & Data in Asia-Pacific was bagged by our Digital Content Analyzer and Predictor (DiCAP).

An extract from the report:

STANDOUT – Designed and developed DiCAP, a tool that uses natural language processing to analyse and predict the likely success of the firm’s online marketing. The firm doubled its levels of customer engagement rate, while navigating tight advertising restrictions in the Indian legal market.

Since the idea is to serve an innovation platter of all dishes, I will be writing a detailed post on DiCAP separately. The key tools and principles used were Design Thinking, NLP (Natural Language Processing), Neural Networks and Machine Learning.

We delivered an exponential increase in engagement with minimal investments, delivering unbelievable ROI. What are you waiting for?

#2 – People Profiler

Next up on the innovation platter is the Highly Commended “People Profiler” project in the category of “Business of Law – Technology & Data”. This initiative was also nominated for the Award, only to be beaten (or should I say eaten) by DiCAP!

The report mentions:

HIGHLY COMMENDED – Optimised its recruitment process by designing an algorithm to analyse applicants’ CVs, producing a shortlist of candidates for HR to review. CVs are analysed and given value tags according to content and experience, allowing the firm to characterise the ideal candidate and then search recent and historic applications for the best fit.

People Profiler was another fruit of Design Thinking principles that led us to re-imagine the Sourcing process within the recruitment cycle. It helped us uncover a deeper  understanding of people’s profiles by mapping the composite choice of words on a multi-dimensional vector space. If this starts getting fuzzy, I will be writing a detailed post explaining the concept.

If only, finding what you need was so easy in other spheres of life, what would you want to do? Hmm…food for thought, but it’s time to look at our next dish on the innovation platter!

#3 – KnowViz

And yes, you guessed it. After a couple of NLP and Machine Learning oriented dishes, it’s time to look at something else. And we are looking at visualization, but with a twist.

We are not merely visualizing quantitative information, but  unstructured text information that has been pre-processed using the building blocks of NLP and Neural Networks. A picture is said to speak louder than 1000 words, but our picture actually encodes the meaning of thousands of words!

COMMENDED – Developed KnowViz, an extension of the firm’s KnowBot, to process unstructured data and produce an overview in a digestible visual format. Primarily used across the firm for HR and marketing, the tool is adaptable and scalable.

Here are a couple of examples that are already in the public domain.

  • Document Fingerprint to uncover the innovation trends in the Business of Law as per last year’s FT report on Innovation. The trends have been sewn together in the form of a picture story i.e. KnowViZtory
  • Our own VOCAB, a mnemonic for Visual Original Creative Analytic Barometer. An interactive word cloud that has been created based on analysis of all the posts that we launched at the beginning of the year, based on the information contained in all the previous year’s posts and updates.

There are so many use cases and all you need to do is think about situations where you are inundated with information and feel that it would be wonderful to extract some insights from it.

#4 : Business of Law – Talent, Strategy and Changing Behaviors

A “Commended” innovation that involved a series of initiatives to make IP accessible to all and to include it in the form of stories that appeal to all walks of life, most notably on the Careers Showcase Page.

The initiatives taken this year, have inspirational roots in yesteryear’s blockbusters; whether it is the IP Comic or ANARYST, the IP board game, creative masterstrokes of Pravin Anand. Last year, I also borrowed the protagonist of the comic series, Mr IP, to create a digital game, “IPMAN”, where the game play is similar to Hangman. Here is a small write-up about my experience of integrating fun and games at work.

#Concluding the Business of Law Innovation Platter

This rounds off the first section of the Innovation Platter, i.e. Innovation in Business of Law. With four projects recognized, we scored more than any global firm operating in the APAC region!

You can read more about my experience of Managing Professional Service Firms and Benefits of CXO Structures. Hopefully, you will get a sneak peek into how structures can drive innovation.

However, time to move on to the next set of the innovation platter, “Legal Expertise – Dispute Resolution”. This is where my expertise comes to a halt. I will skim through this section just as a Vegetarian would rush through the Non-Vegetarian ensemble of a buffet.

#5 : Dispute Resolution

The Nokia pre-suit mediation matter was a “Standout” entry; ranked 2nd across Asia-Pacific for Innovation in Dispute Resolution – details here.

#6 : WhatsApp Order

Getting the judiciary to issue summons over WhatsApp and SMS when postal information was not available was an innovation that was truly worth a Commendation. There are many more potential opportunities to innovate in the area of dispensing justice and it is heartening to see the Courts walk the talk of technology and innovation. Read more

#7: Finally, The Lucky Seven

Ok, we broke our previous best and had 6 innovative projects recognized across various categories. However, this six course meal does not yet meet up to the promised Lucky 7.

After a delightful meal, the desert can’t be disappointing. No, it will not let you down. In fact, we have two choices for the seventh and final innovation platter.

  • Our firm received a podium finish ranking of 3rd across all Asia-Pacific Headquartered firms. We can gauge the significance of this by using David Vs Goliath as an analogy. As a firm with one practice area operating in one country, we were competing with regional firms with operations across multiple practice areas and indeed, several times our size.
  • The final piece was a recognition of the firm’s gender diversity. The introductory article by Reena SenGupta of RSG Consulting, (research partner of FT), called out our firm’s favorable gender ratio, even at the Partner level. This is often seen as an acid test to discover the true shattering of the glass ceiling.

In conclusion, let us dwell upon the theme of diversity and talk about meta-diversity. Let’s examine diversity in the nature of diverse things that we speak about.

Moving on from gender diversity, it is important to have cognitive diversity in order to spawn innovation. One such example is biomimicry. The study of nature can help uncover it’s secrets which are applied to business and engineering contexts.

In our case, we have got lawyers and engineers with creative artists and diverse professionals to create a unique blend.

If you are a doctor, speak to a data scientist. If you are an accountant, speak to a marketer. Folks in manufacturing industry can take lessons from creative professionals.

I hope this innovation platter has done enough to whet your appetite. Keep experimenting and keep innovating!

I am personally driving technology led innovation in a law firm with a background in neither law nor technology!

As they say, you never know what you can become!

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