We recently presented a Masterclass at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), and while preparing I had a couple of insights.
As with Artificial Intelligence*, I mostly shied away from the “Big Data” discussion because I felt it was engulfed by Inflated Expectations. Without the right tools to visualize it, more data only provides more problems. Big Data is now all grown up and the evidence is in the apps.
Big Data impacts Legal…Big Time
Our presentation was part of an Executive Education program called “Leadership Challenges with Big Data” and sandwiched between all the professors presenting were Peter & I. Since we only had 45 minutes and were the last act before lunch, we decided to stick to real-world examples to explain the impact of Big Data on the legal sector. While compiling these examples, I was amazed by not only the variety of ways (text recognition or sentiments analysis) but also the variety of data that can solve legal problems. Not only legal matter like legislation or jurisprudence but also non-legal matter such as news, time & billing, court records, and insurance data. Even social media and location data are valuable in helping to decide a legal course of action.
There is this slight difference between tools for the business of law and the practice of law. In the practice of law, data analytics and visualization play an important role in predicting outcomes or explaining complexities. Legal forces, such as conflicts or compliance, are fueling these tools. At the business end, companies are faced with market forces like costs, customers, and competitors. This requires different apps that support efficiencies and consistency…by way of automation, not just answers. Case in point: this paper states that the global financial meltdown was the result of failures in contracts. Now if a systemic use of faulty contracts can bring down the entire global economy, it can also take down your company. One way to prevent this is by designing and automating smart contracts to the point that law becomes invisible.
Big Data is the new Electricity
Hearing the other speakers in the program talk about the impact of data on their sector made us all realize: data sits at the heart of every industry. Data powers most decisions like electricity powers most tools. Without the support of data, one feels like a kite in a storm. In the past, we could get by on software without data. One could fire up an empty word document and start drafting. Now, software platforms infused with Machine Intelligence* are connected to devices and sensors not only generate but also consume data. It means apps come pre-build with data and intelligence providing us with super powers at a push of a button: Look Ma, no drafting!
..and with great powers comes some bewilderment.
* I prefer the term Robolaw because legal doesn’t require (even simple) AI to solve itself. Legal is 80% illogical reasoning that will be fixed by automation and 20% emotion that should be ignored by robots.