Re: Winter 2013/14 - Page 12

Data driven Recently I have had to think quite a lot about data. I’m not going to pretend it keeps me awake at night; indeed, it often has the opposite effect, which can be comforting to know when counting backwards doesn’t do the trick. However, it is perhaps more important than we generally give it credit for in a business such as ours, or indeed in life generally. It’s really the thing that ties everything else together. So what do I tend to reflect upon? Before getting on to that, what exactly do I mean by data? Oxford dictionary definition; facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis Sounds a bit dull, but in reality it’s the use to which data is put, and the way it affects and drives behavior that makes it more interesting and (in some ways) scary. For example, did you know that certain online companies describe themselves as “data driven businesses” because they set out to use the data they collect about us, including our shopping habits, to make sure that they deliver goods or services in a way that is intended to suit our particular needs? That not only includes data about what we order and when we order it, but also what we don’t order (but may have looked at on a web page, started completing an order form, and then changed our mind). It also includes information about what 10 happened last time when the delivery driver failed to find us in. Did they have to leave the item with a neighbour, in the shed, in the carport, or on the doorstep? Were we happy with what they did? Did the item reach us? All of that is analysed and is available to the next delivery driver so that if on that occasion we are not in, the driver doesn’t have to waste his/her and your time taking the item away and making you call to collect it – they will simply know what’s the best option for you (or at least that’s what the data will say is the best option). So why have I been thinking about this I hear you ask? What has all of that to do with a law firm? Well, we are just about to invest in a new IT software system, and it’s very much centred on the data we hold and collect and promises to make us much better at getting our work done efficiently and in ways that meet our clients’ needs. Of course it is only as good as the data underpinning it, and we have to think very hard about what we want that data to be, how we collate it, and how we then use it. Traditionally, law firms haven’t really placed much emphasis on data. When I started in practice, the records ݔ