Archive for the ‘Various press’ category

How the law can do justice to emerging technologies

June 27, 2013

Here is my article  published in the Times supplement on June 11th 2013.

The relationship between the legal sector and information technology is poised to change dramatically over the next decade. Indeed, the role of IT is already changing rapidly for some in-house legal departments and law firms.

Constant and accelerating innovation is delivering analytical tools that can, for example, interrogate the characteristics and outcomes of past insurance disputes to predict the likelihood of legal success for current claims.

Clients are also becoming savvier around the cost efficiencies IT can deliver and are auditing law firm IT systems and assessing the IT capabilities and proficiency of the individual lawyers assigned to their account.

Rapid IT advances are enabling the creation of new strategies, business models, collaborative working arrangements, virtual law firms and service delivery models. A look to the future highlights several emerging technologies that could transform every aspect of the legal sector.

Coming over the horizon are developments offering the promise of automated capture of every image we see and conversation we have, intelligent virtual assistants to guide in-house counsel and external lawyers, wearable technologies and widespread adoption of artificial intelligence in the legal value chain.

So what are the critical technologies that will shape the future of the legal sector and how should in-house legal departments and law firms be preparing for them?

To help explore and address these questions, the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) has launched its Legal Technology Future Horizons research project. This ten-month global study will explore the potential impact of new and emerging technologies for the sector, and the resulting strategic priorities over the next ten to fifteen years.

The study is designed to challenge current thinking, and provide insights and practical ideas to inform the development of future business and IT strategies for law departments, law firms and legal technology vendors.

The final report, to be delivered at the end of 2013, will outline:

  • Key trends in the broader environment affecting the legal sector
  • A likely timeline of IT developments and the key technologies that could impact tomorrow’s legal enterprise
  • The role technology could play in future legal-sector business models in a changing business environment and as a critical differentiator in this emerging landscape
  • Strategic IT imperatives for the legal industry and critical implications for the management of IT in the legal sector.

Our findings to date suggest the next ten to fifteen years will be characterised by continued global economic turbulence and uncertainty, with a significant shift of wealth, influence and power to emerging markets.

Every business sector will continue to be transformed by factors, such as shorter and faster business cycles, talent mismatches, disruptive innovation, and accelerating diffusion of advances in science and technology.

The effective use of technology is seen as critical both in responding to these forces, and in the generation of new commercial opportunities and business models for customers and law firms alike.

These global business drivers are coupled with factors such as growing client demands for transparency, information and innovation. At the same time, there are expectations of greater regulatory scrutiny along with growing concerns over security, data protection and data privacy issues.

Intense price competition, commoditisation, alternative business structures, disruptive new market entrants, demographic shifts and rapidly evolving customer expectations are changing the nature of the relationship between clients and their law firms.

Collectively, these forces are driving the need to rethink the strategies, business models, structures and operations of in-house departments and law firms.

There is a growing recognition that technology will play an increasingly central role in the emerging legal environment, streamlining legal processes, enhancing client-supplier relationships and creating future sources of commercial benefit as both a value-chain enabler and value creator, with a focus on data-driven insight.

Technology is also facilitating the move towards more online delivery of services and enabling new types of structures with different business models for in-house units and providers. Indeed the boundaries between in-house and external service firms may blur dramatically with individual lawyers moving between them fluidly.

Faced with continuing change, key themes are emerging around the role of technology in tomorrow’s legal function and enterprise:

  • The technology environment will be characterised by the “internet of things” [machines “talking” to machines], social media and “social listening”, smart environments, a more immersive multi-sensory intelligent internet, increasingly sophisticated data gathering and analysis, plus widespread penetration and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI).
  • End-users will increasingly be mobile, supported by intelligent digital personal assistants and “lab on a chip” devices, and use wearable technologies enhanced with augmented reality (AR) and holographic displays.
  • Devices will offer AI-enabled smart interfaces, automatic language translation, and support user interaction via gestures, language and thought.
  • Customer service delivery could be enhanced through deep collaboration environments, portals providing tracking dashboards and total transparency on the status of individual matters, shared databases, advanced videoconferencing, touchable holographs, novel data handling tools and sophisticated security technology.
  • Legal function and law firm processes could be transformed through developments in AI, knowledge management, smart data capture and analysis, predictive analytics, intelligent document production, video mining, integrated analytics and “gamification”. Emerging technologies could bring about dramatic changes in the way matters are conducted and information is analysed and presented back to clients.
  • At the IT management level, the cloud will be used for infrastructure, applications, development and data. Priorities for IT management will shift from production to innovation, developing next-level services and evolving the IT staff profile, skill sets, management focus and alignment. For in-house functions, a dedicated IT and knowledge manager will become an increasing priority.

While some in-house functions and law firms are alert to and embracing the transformative potential of IT, others are struggling to stay abreast of the changes and showing reluctance to embrace these opportunities. The challenge is to help players across the sector prepare for and embark on IT enabled transformation.

Business and IT leaders need to understand the emerging technologies, explore how to integrate and manage them, and identify opportunities to leverage IT to deliver new levels of efficiency and competitive advantage.

Here is the link to the article:


UK cities are being left behind in planning for the long term

June 21, 2013

My interview for the Yorkshire Post, published on  June  6th 2013.

Lithuania, wrongly written off by some as a basket case, has a detailed national plan to guide its development to 2025.

South Korea launched a commission five years ago to look at the future integration of robotics into city life.

Developing economies are stealing a march on their rivals in the developed world with long-term plans for the future and a sharp focus on the efficient use of resources.

The UK, meanwhile, has been incredibly complacent, failed to notice what is going on and is suddenly seeing everything changing but cannot find the right answer.

This is the scenario set out by Rohit Talwar, who advises international governments and corporations on how to understand and respond to the various forces shaping the future.

He will explore these themes and others at the Intelligent Cities Conference in Leeds later this month.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post yesterday, Mr Talwar said technological infrastructure like fast broadband is very important, but local and central governments must understand that the most successful towns and cities are sustainable, economically viable and vibrant places.

“They need to think about a lot more than just technology,” he said.

He added that planners must find new uses for high streets following the consolidation of the retail sector and suggested repurposing retail units as community resources.

Mr Talwar said public buildings such as schools could be used as “multi-service facilities” in the evenings to accommodate local libraries, community centres, doctors’ surgeries and even magistrates’ courts.

“Such moves would meet the twin goals of cutting the operating costs for local councils and taking local facilities and giving them more value to the community,” he said.

He suggested that Britain needs to shake up its education system to take account of the instant availability of academic information and increase efforts on helping pupils to learn valuable life skills to help arrest the nation’s slide down OECD world rankings and deal with the vast numbers of disenfranchised young people.

Mr Talwar said the industries of the future will develop to support the ageing population and care for the elderly.

He also highlighted the growth potential of sectors including biotechnology, biomanufacturing, human enhancements, wearable robotics, nanotechnology and advanced materials.

Mr Talwar said Leeds should host international conventions if it wants to realise ambitions to expand its healthcare sector.

This will bring academic experts and industry together and forge new global links for the city and help develop its cluster of businesses.

But Mr Talwar cautioned that “it’s not all about money”, adding that culture, lifestyle and values help make a destination and a great place to live.

The Intelligent Cities Conference takes place at Leeds Metropolitan University on June 19.

Organisers said Rotterdam’s planning for sustainability, Helsinki’s investment in energy and resources, and the IBM city control centre in Rio de Janeiro are all examples of how cities around the world are taking a smart approach.

It will include presentations from Cambium Networks, Ericsson, EE, IBM, Cisco, Arup and Aql, Leeds Data Thing, Medtech University of Leeds and Synchronoss Technologies.

Paul Hadley, deputy director of Information Economy Industrial Strategy at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will also speak.

Mr Talwar’s business, Fast Future, helps clients identify and analyse “future trends, drivers and shocks”.

“Technology is a critical enabler of the smart city, but a truly sustainable and intelligent model requires us to go much broader and think about every aspect of what makes a city vibrant and viable,” he said. He urged governments to see technology infrastructure as part of the vision, not the whole solution.

Here is the link to the interview:

Social media in travel

January 11, 2010

Here is my commentary on the importance of social media in travel.

It is a tremendous achievement for the four star Southern Sun Al Manzil Hotel to be voted ‘Most Popular Hotel in Dubai’ and Top Business Hotel in Dubai in the Trip Advisor 2009 Popularity Rankings. This gives a customer driven sense of the quality of service and facilities on offer. These rankings are far more than an interesting curiosity now – such Travel 2.0 sites as they are known are a critical part of the search process for a growing number of travellers’ when looking for a hotel or flight.

Huge importance is placed on the opinions of other guests – highlighting the growing importance of word of mouth from trusted sources in a world where we are constantly bombarded with so much information. TripAdvisor’s own research shows “consumer opinions posted online” are trusted more than those in the newspapers. I think other hotels in Dubai will start to pay a lot more attention to such sites if they are not already doing so. Some hotels actively encourage guests to post their reviews on the site. Others monitor the site very closely and act fast to address service concerns raised by travellers. Comments on Trip Advisor and other such sites can make a huge difference to booking levels.

TripAdvisor is part of a growing range of Travel 2.0 offerings on the web – these are interactive travel sites that offer far more than just travel booking. They reflect the growing desire of consumers to get a lot more information, share their opinions, rate their experiences, hear the views of others and take more control over the design and planning of their trips. A 2008 research study from Uptake shows that the average consumer makes 12 searches and visits 22 sites before they book.

The rise of social media in travel is a core trend over the next few years and the industry needs to make sure it is not left behind. In our own study on the Future of Travel, 95% of respondents said it was likely or very likely that they would book the bulk of their travel online by 2015 and 74% said it was likely or very likely that would use social media to research their trip before making a purchase. Given the rapid rise of internet penetration – there are over 1.7 billion internet users worldwide and estimates of over 1 billion social network users – the message is very clear for hoteliers in the region. They need to be paying very close attention to their social media strategy, monitoring the comments made about them across the social networks – particularly the specialist travel sites and responding to any service concerns that are raised. Figures fromPersonalize Media[i] below give a sense of the true scale of the growth of social media:

•       20 hours of video are uploaded every minute onto YouTube (source YouTube blog August 09)

•       Facebook claims it is adding 600,000 new members per day, and 700 million photos and 4 million videos per month (source Inside Facebook February 09)

•       Twitter has added 18 million new users in the last year, with 4 million ‘tweets’ sent daily (source TechCrunch April 09)

•       900,000 blogs posts are put up every day (source Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2008)

•       YouTube claims 1 billion videos are watched every day (Source SMH 2009)

•       In Second Life, US$250,000 worth of ‘virtual goods’ are traded daily (source Linden Lab release Sep 09)

•       1250 text messages are sent per second

•       An estimated US$5.5 billion is spent annually on virtual goods (source Viximo Aug 09)

•       Facebook gift purchases have reached US$70 million annually (source Viximo Aug 09)

•       Flickr has 73 million visitors a month who upload 700 million photos (source Yahoo Mar 09)

•       There were 92.5 million mobile social network subscribers at the end of 2008. This is forecast to rise to between 641.6-873.1 million by the end of 2013 (source Informa PDF)

•       Over 2.3 trillion SMS messages were sent across major markets worldwide in 2008 (source Everysingleoneofus sms statistics).


[i]Personalize Media, October 19th 2009

Podcast interview: Rohit on global trends and challenges

January 7, 2010
Here is a link to a full length podcast interview conducted with me by Stephen Ibaraki on the theme of global trends and challenges for a programme which has an audience reach of 60 million across 14 channels from over 100 countries when all channels pick up the interview.
Here’s the link to the podcast: