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Futurologists speak out at LawTech Futures 2012 (good summary of my talk)

I had the great pleasure to speak at LawTech Futures in London last week, organized by Netlaw Media and Charles Christian, along with the fabulous Patrick Dixon (a fellow futurist that I have been tracking for a long time, and who I finally got to meet at this event).   Kim Tasso just published a pretty good summary of what Patrick and me talked about; her comments about my talk are listed below. 

We hope to have the videos available soon, as well.

Download the PDF with my slides from this event: Lawtech London Gerd Leonhard Public lowres

“The purpose of looking at the future is to disturb the present” (Gaston Berger) was his opening gambit with photos of toddlers using iPads and the comment “these are your future clients” – the AO (“Always On”) Generation. We laughed at more photos where small children walked away from print magazines thinking them broken as nothing happened when they touched the images. His ideas then flowed out fast and fascinated us all.  

Empowerment – More iPads than PCs have been sold and tablets can be made cheap and solar powered. The hierarchy of needs must be revisited as young people throughout the world will find money for mobile phones and tablets instead of other consumer goods. The world has shifted from service empires to networks and we are the content. Social media has made broadcasters of us all and the global village is in chaos.

Networked society – We have moved from being in a broadcast environment to being part of the chain of communication. The model is no longer one to many but now many to many. Youtube effectively wiped out MTV in 24 months and is making $36 bn pcm revenues. Convergence means there will be “networked law firms” and the leaders will become connectors rather directors. We will move from hyper-capitalism to hyper-collaboration. Futurist Gerd Leonhard Lawtech legal Futures summary

Newscape – Despite all the free information, people still pay to use their preferred print medium. This may be because they trust the source, value the filtering or prefer “packaged news”. It suggests that information providers need to find new ways to add value all the time. Spotify is not about legal access to music – it is about seeing the music preferences of all of your friends. There will be a “tyranny of transparency”.

Control, access and authority – We were urged to consider a number of recent developments – copyright in music, unbundling, NetFlix, ZipCar and peer-to-peer collaboration. There was a nice image of lots of yellow Lego brick model heads all with different faces. He advised of the “loss of default expert” status and said that “sharing is the new owning”. He mentioned the famous McKinsey report which warned those industries that are still trading on information asymmetries (real estate/property industry watch out especially!).

Freemiums – There was a move towards things that “feel like free” – with LinkedIn and Skype and various online games providing free access to allow users to become familiar with and then reliant upon systems before payment was required. The key is to capture large volumes before charging as the value paradigm is changing. Do things for free and get a 50% conversion rate to the next (paying) level.

Nowness – There are new roles in the digital ecosystem – and real time has taken over with virtual services and “hangouts” increasing. He showed a video of a FedEx delivery man throwing a package – to illustrate that everything is observed and recorded. I liked his idea of organisations having “Chief Mavericks”. He said that the law model – where lawyers produce content – will be challenged as it was based on scarcity and we are now in a digital society where information is ubiquitous.

New business models – He then offered some observations on “rethinking the legal business model”, asked us “how visual are you?” and pointed to:

  • Influence and reputation
  • New ways to get paid (e.g. Facebook credits, currency for “likes”)
  • Immediacy
  • Personalisation
  • Attention
  • Interpretation

He talked about the changes endemic in moving from a world of “people of the book” to one of “people of the screen” and noted that you cannot outsource creativity, trust and human relationships.  And, in what must have been like balm to the lawyers in the room, he said that “trust is the new currency”. He explained that MIT had put its entire course library on line and available to all – yet still received a 38% increase in requests to attend – people don’t want the knowledge, but the experience.

From the age of software to the age of data – Following the mantra of digital PR he asked us how we were monitoring our on-line reputations and said we must move to “data curation” and quoted Umair Haque (HBR) on the need to shift “from value chain to value circles”. He said we are all content businesses, brands who publish and that interaction comes before transaction. Return on Investment is being replaced with Return on Involvement, and commoditisation with collaboration.

 To summarise, he mentioned Social, Local, Mobile, Video – and all at speed. That “like economics” will dominate (we need to find new reasons why people come to us), trust the new currency, data the new oil, to consider return on involvement, to seek interaction before transaction and to accept the loss of control. I am sure that I have not done justice to this startling presentation nor its presenter. And while it may seem like a stream of sound bytes, he did provide examples and elaboration (usually with some form of video illustration) of all the points. I have already downloaded his Futurist App. Originally, I had decided that – on reflection – I did not fear the future. And after these talks I decided that I was actually quite excited about the possibilities ahead. Yet I suspect there will be those in the audience who were thinking of that Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”.

Read the whole story here


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