ILTA 2012: Think Outside of the Box

September 4, 2012 Serena McNally

Innovation. If there was one buzzword at ILTA’s annual conference last week, that was it. The keynote on day one of the event was delivered by author Frans Johansson, who stressed the importance of fostering an innovative culture. He noted that organizational patterns that promulgate creativity and thinking outside of the box can result in real innovation for the legal technology community.

When we think about innovation in an e-discovery context, we think about approaches like technology-assisted review, native and automated redactions functionality, and advanced search techniques. What do all of these have in common – and why does it matter? These innovations (plus many more not mentioned here that are being introduced to the market every day) have enabled e-discovery teams to automate and streamline traditionally time consuming and cumbersome processes and move through e-discovery dramatically more quickly, accurately and cost-effectively than before.

Harnessing the force of innovation was also the topic of Scott Anthony and Clayton Christensen’s article earlier this year that appeared in MIT’s Technology Review. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” the authors noted that many of the innovative R&D efforts are being driven today by incumbents such as General Electric, Dow Corning, Microsoft and Conduent.

Anthony and Christensen highlighted Conduent’s CategoriX technology-assisted review tool, which was developed out of Conduent’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and Conduent Research Centre Europe, as technology that “helps law firms increase their analytical capabilities and manage millions of documents” and “is disruptive innovation – making the complicated simple, making the expensive affordable, driving growth by transforming what exists and creating what doesn’t.”

According to Anthony and Christensen, there are three patterns of “repeat” among companies that have benefited from disruption – and they can be applied to businesses of all sizes and industries, including e-discovery incumbents and start-up companies alike: 

1. Push beyond core competencies – Ask “what do our customers need and want” rather than “what are we good at” (i.e., Amazon’s new businesses in retailing, e-readers and cloud computing)
2. Embrace business-model innovation – Go beyond technological innovation to consider new ways to create, capture and deliver value (i.e., Apple’s iTunes and App Store)
3. Manage the old and the new differently – help managers and peers learn from failure and adjust accordingly

Our industry should be continuously thinking about ways to drive “disruptive” growth. If we, along with our industry peers, continue to push ourselves outside of the box in what we can do to better serve the needs of our clients, the e-discovery community as a whole will continue to reap the benefits. 

Serena McNally is Marketing Manager at Conduent. She can be reached at

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