India in 2020: Digital transformation is key for GCs

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This article is one of four in an annual Vantage Point series where in-house counsel identify key risks and opportunities in the year ahead

The need for general counsel (GC) in 2020 will be to create future ready legal teams that operate on an efficient and reliable technological platform. Technology is changing the way we work as lawyers. Just as in 2019, we will see an increased focus on technology in the new year.

digital
Ajay D’Cruz

The legal industry has been fairly slow when it comes to digitalization and adopting technology. But in 2020 we can expect technology to be the buzzword at all GC discussion platforms. The focus will be on the areas of automation, AI and analytics, which will reshape service delivery. There will be a shift from traditionally run legal departments to them becoming technology-driven, and this transition will happen this year.

These emerging technologies will help to make our life easier with dashboards, reports, compliance scores, turnaround time (TAT) trackers, monitoring tools and data management that provide all stakeholders with accessibility.

The outcome of the digital transformation will be phenomenal: process efficiency, better performance, cost saving, better quality output and a higher level of service delivery. The limited IT skills of most legal counsel result in time and cost spillovers in software deployment initiatives, as often end users without experience in launching such projects keep shifting the goal posts for the IT developers.

Sometimes the end result is not fit for purpose, as the IT developers rely completely on lawyers without understanding the larger impact on the legal function. So it will not be a surprise to see new roles created within legal operations for technically skilled individuals. Technology lawyers are the future and play an important role in continual digital progress.

Digital transformation should not be a one-time activity, but a continuing process. Technology initiatives go beyond digital projects, but they constitute a mindset and organizational change, which means making the use of technology tools as a way of life. Digital transformation needs to be a collaborative effort across an organization, which has been put together as a deliberate and well thought out process.

Technology is leveraged to create synergies and efficiencies in work systems, not complications and siloes within an organization. An integration of digital tools is important, and need not be one platform; it could be a combination of various digital platforms as long as they integrate well together.

We have the opportunity to lead change, and success will belong to individual leaders who take up the challenge to transform the future.

Ajay D’Cruz is head of legal and secretarial at ISS India. Previously, he worked with JLL India and GKB Carl Zeiss India in prominent legal and secretarial positions. Ajay can be reached via his website: http://ajay.dcr.uz.

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