Practice Management

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Competitive Intelligence

By Stephanie Dooley posted 10-24-2019 11:34

Please enjoy this snackable blog co-authored by Stephanie Dooley, Senior Competitive & Strategic Intelligence Manager, K&L Gates, LLP and Elizabeth Whittington, Competitive & Strategic Intelligence Analyst, K&L Gates, LLP.

The ability to capture and recall information is critical to the success of any business. It is only when we identify and collect the right types of data that we can begin to transform data into intelligence that will help inform better business decisions.

Businesses across all industries are increasingly devoting time and resources to data analysis in an attempt to improve their bottom lines. The legal industry is no exception, but until recently, many law firms have been slow to adopt new data technologies due to strict record retention and confidentiality requirements. This is beginning to change as law firms realize that capturing data about every aspect of their business is critical to success. 

Law firms have access to many sources of internal and external data, but not all data is useful for the discussion at hand. Data - or more broadly, any kind of information - is only useful if viewed in context.

How do we transform our available data into useful intelligence for informed decision-making? We must specify the problem we need to solve and establish our end-goal. If our problem is ill-defined, no amount of data will provide a solution. What type of data should be collected? Can we easily retrieve relevant data, and what do we plan to do with it? Defining and framing an end goal is a critical step to transform information into insight.

For a recent strategic planning project, our team needed to identify potential firm growth opportunities based on geography, markets and industries.

Our internal firm and client data revealed only past performance and current market position. External data sources, too, added only limited insight. When examined independently, these internal and external data sources provided a one-dimensional, myopic picture. We needed a way to pull all of our available data together to create a layered portrait that would inform our management’s decision-making process. To accomplish this, we needed to further define our end-goal by asking more questions. Who are our current clients? What makes an ideal client? Why have they remained our client? What does our ideal prospect look like? How do we win new business from our competitors? Where should we target business development and strategic growth efforts?

Partnering with an in-house data analyst, we put together a visualization product that layered our internal and external datasets. In the hands of a data expert, products like Microsoft BI Suite or Tableau can slice and dice data in ways that highlight potential growth areas and initiatives that might be better on the back burner.  Using the right technology to convert data into intelligence can affect the bottom line by identifying where and when to direct resources.

When we harness the power of technology to compare specific pools of data, we can begin to identify trends, spot opportunities, and avoid risk that will help propel our business forward.