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Digital Transformation in the Year of Outside-In Disruption

As we near the end of a turbulent 2020, it is worth taking a pause to reflect on the inflection point this year has been for the court reporting industry. Social distancing restrictions, and the necessary business operations reconfiguration toward remote depositions, have accelerated digital transformation in our industry by years all within the span of seven months. It has become a harsh reality for technology laggards that to stay competitive in our “new normal,” a standard level of technology proficiency must be met.

The attorney clients we serve care deeply that the testimony being captured is done so in an efficient and stress-free manner. As the guardians of the record, that responsibility was awoken by the realization that our industry needed innovative solutions to overcome the logistical workflow challenges associated with remote.

In nearly every industry, disruptive technologies challenge the status quo and crumble incumbent category leaders. While disruption typically comes from the inside-out, such as motivated start-ups who can quickly iterate and innovate, the global pandemic has had the unique effect of an operations disruptor from the outside-in.

Geoffrey Moore, the author of business book classics Crossing the Chasm and Zone to Win, envisions disruption as a powerful ocean wave. Once in motion, the tidal force energy cannot be easily stopped. The question for companies in its direct path is whether you will ride the wave or get washed over by it.

Not all disruption means your company is doomed the fate of Blockbuster, which Moore describes as Business Model disruption, in which the entire business and way of doing things become completed outdated. Moore details two lower levels, starting with Infrastructure Model disruption which involves innovative changes that must be made to basic facilities, structures, and software your services are provided on. These are slight changes with some investment that is required to compete with new industry standards. For the court reporting industry, examples include the past wave of transcript indexing software and the tools that generate synced video transcripts for trial presentations. A little bit of time and effort integrated these tools into new production team workflows and became industry standards with little change to the core service of court reporting.

The next level Moore details is Operating Model disruption, in which a fundamental redefinition of how your organization operates and delivers value to your clients must be addressed. Disruptions to the Operating Model require major process changes and coordination with your Infrastructure Model to ride this wave. It is my belief that the pandemic has the court reporting industry caught in the undertow of this level of disruption, forcing the swift and sudden shift towards remote reporting. Our new remote reality has reshaped how court reporting workflows operate, opening up opportunities to cost savings and increased productivity, but with new logistical challenges that must be overcome in the process to ensure matters go on without a hitch.

As an example, whereas same room depositions require a reporting agency to dispatch court reporters to a location, remote depositions require the facilitation of conference call invitations, technology checks, digital management of exhibits, and other workflows flipped upside down.

These logistical reconfigurations illustrate why it is important for digital transformation to be successful, and for everyone on your team to be rowing in the same direction. Just imagine, you are rowing a boat with your team and one person starts rowing in the opposite direction of everyone else. The boat will start to spin in place halting forward progress, increasing the likelihood that the wave of disruption will wash over the business.

So, what can a court reporting agency do? Modernize your Operating Model with a technology platform that will help you overcome workflow constraints and realize the productivity benefits of remote reporting in our new normal. While some matters will return to the traditional conference room table, law firms have signaled that certain litigation types will remain remote post-pandemic. Often driven by cost-cutting demands by insurance clients, expect fewer first-class air travel and fancy steak dinners.

Law firms also have a growing hunger to standardize on a remote workflow platform to increase productivity and simplify workflow constraints for remote matters. Incorporating purpose-built technology and buying into an all-in-one ecosystem is becoming the norm across many sectors, and now this trend is emerging in legal. Riding this wave may be bumpy at first but is essential to compete going forward into the post-pandemic world.

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