01 August 2018
There are many benefits of real-time data analytics. Parsing out the ways in which this term gets applied—and often as not, misapplied—to the decision-making processes businesses undergo every day is imperative to understand. Additionally, one could make the case that the true value of any information lies in your ability to use it and to transform it into concrete actions that effect change. Without that element, it doesn’t matter how good it is, how current it is or how fast you can gather it.
With those ideas in mind, we’d now like to focus on the uses of real- and “right”-time technologies and the effect these processes have on the roles of the corporate secretary and the general counsel (GC). Both of these positions have seen a dramatic shift in recent years, expanding the scope of their responsibilities to include duties that would not have been dreamed of 20 years ago.
For corporate secretaries, this has meant an increase in the demand for corporate governance advice and an uptick in their role in navigating the increasingly complex environment of regulatory compliance. Similarly, general counsels have seen the expectations placed upon them expand, as more companies try to involve the legal department in decision-making as early as possible. Rather than simply advising on litigation or ongoing legal challenges, the GC and other members of the legal team are often included in brainstorming sessions for new product design and speculative conversations as management determines the vision of the company’s future.
The game has changed
In the past, GCs and corporate secretaries alike might be asked, “What can we do about this action we took?” Now, that question is just as likely to be, “What should we do about this action we are planning?” To answer these questions, both corporate secretaries and GCs look to data analytics to help them understand, explore and explain business opportunities and weigh them against possible costs. Reliable access and optimized delivery services make their jobs faster, more efficient, more accurate and more valuable. In order to understand these changes, we’ll look at both roles and give some real-world examples for how the right data at the right time gives them the competitive edge.
Strengthening the Abilities of the Corporate Secretary
Often, when we speak of real-time data, we are talking about analytics. Whether it is tracking packages or sales, this is data that is created by an event (a transaction, say, or the progress of a shipment). But the real value of real-time technology for secretaries is its ability to allow for true document collaboration. Shared virtual workspaces and collaborative document-creation tools make remote team management easier and cut down drastically on the cost of, and the time spent, making travel arrangements.
Document management systems and board portals then help secretaries retrieve, store and share information with all relevant parties. Storing these documents in a centralized database reduces the amount of time spent scrounging through various hard drives or data siloes, looking for related files. It also cuts the time and effort secretaries often have to spend integrating the outlier information into the current document. Instead, this can all happen seamlessly, and the document can be revised and grow as an organic artifact.
In addition to increased collaborative opportunities, real-time and near-real-time data help to strengthen the corporate secretary’s ability to act as an advisor in situations regarding corporate governance and compliance. Working with members of IT and Legal teams, secretaries can establish protocols to monitor the storage, use and distribution of sensitive materials, making sure that these procedures fall within the bounds of the relevant compliance regulations.
When a breach of these protocols does occur, at least one member of this team is alerted immediately and appropriate actions can be taken to remedy the misstep. Along the same lines, these real-time AI alerts can be adapted to maintain compliance updates and to make necessary changes automatically. This saves the organization any costs related to the lapse of compliance.
Reimagining the General Counsel
In a recent article, Mary Juetten predicts the direction trending technologies will continue to develop in such a way as to make the GC more agile, more informed, and more prepared to meet the challenges of running a legal department for a large organization. Some of the innovations that she believes are going to change the landscape of the industry include:
Fully integrated contract management systems that would allow counsel to have an overview of pending contracts, renewals, terminations and negotiations as they happen—from anywhere in the world. Remote clients would no longer be a problem, and the counsel need not be locked into an office location, either. Cloud-based CMSs make geography irrelevant.
Simplified document software, which would empower clients to generate, send and sign relevant documents on their own, without requiring GCs to spend valuable time on lower-priority items.
AI use for optimized contract reviews. Using specialized search commands, AI can search and identify terms and phrases within contracts or negotiations with greater speed and accuracy than a human can.
Paperless billing solutions. Almost every business has made the shift to paperless billing of one sort or another, but current systems enabled with real-time technologies can help manage the overall budget, report on payments and credits, and provide transparency for your clients.
Real-time enabled business metrics. This is perhaps the most exciting of the new advancements, as it allows GCs and legal teams to review and categorize large amounts of data quickly, saving time and money on the discovery phase of litigation. This data may include collection statistics, processing metrics and relevant case files. The real-time technology ensures that the files are kept entirely up-to-date.
The duties and responsibilities of legal secretaries and GCs have changed and evolved. Luckily, developments in technology have evolved right along with them. Learning how to harness these new technologies may make the difference in your organization. For help putting real-time technologies to work for your legal team, contact a Blueprint representative. They will be happy to see that you get the information you need, fast.