Is an iTunes store for professional services the next big thing?


Today the Australian Financial Review has published a very interesting article (‘iTunes store for professional services‘) that states:

“Global professional services giants will invest hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 18 months to build iTunes-style repositories of software-supported services that can be distributed to clients through a digital shopfront anywhere in the world.”

going on to state that: “[KPMG] is throwing $US200 million to $US300 million ($425 million) at populating this repository with “disruptive technology assets”“.

All sounds a bit far fetched doesn’t it?

Or does it?

We already know that a number of leading law firms in Australia have developed client facing apps since Gilbert + Tobin’s Telco Navigator app was awarded ‘Services to the industry’ in the professional services category at the 2014 Communications Alliance and CommsDay (ACOMMS) Awards.

Most recently this has included the very informative K&L Gates Hub platform, which is described as being:

“a digital destination for timely insight on critical issues at the intersection of business and law.”

So while law firms may not be throwing $US200 million to $US300 million at this development, there’s little doubt that iTunes (as well as Google Chrome App) may well play a significant role in the way law firms distribute their thought leadership in the future.

And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, it made me recall another quote I read this morning to the effect that in the future it may well be the case that your firm’s differentiating factor could be as simple as having the human touch.

Wikipedia killed the #BigLaw firm star

Business Development image

Reading my notebook from 2013, to check if an industry statistic has progressed from a fad to a trend, at the weekend I came across a note to myself that reads:

“The Googlification of law: The belief that everything is on Google and is free.”

Although it clearly meant enough to me at the time to write it down (and apologies if this belongs to you as I didn’t write a credit in my notes – which usually means I thought it), as I didn’t end up writing a blog about it I must have been trying to process this idea/thought.

Anyhow, the note and a print by Hugh that was on special – which I ended up purchasing – on the Gapingvoid Art website (‘Information / Knowledge‘) got me to thinking:

‘Open source law’ – as some people are calling it – is one thing, but information and knowledge are not automatically one in the same. As such one ought to tread carefully if one is merely buying information, without the accompanying application to turn this information into knowledge.

Indeed, one could go further and as to say that the era of the “knowledge economy” is about the application of knowledge, rather merely knowing. And this will require professionals – including lawyers – needing to move the conversation forward from a belief that I can find the information for “free” (or at least “cheaper”) elsewhere and to start demonstrating [via the application of knowledge] that the solution they are providing to clients’ problems is indeed a better solution than the “free” or cheaper alternative.

The two crucial elements here are:

  1. demonstrable evidence that your experience, service or product offering is of benefit to the purchaser’s problems – i.e. not just a capability statement saying how wonderful you are, but a story with real evidence showing how what you do can be of real benefit to the target/client, and
  2. demonstrable evidence that you are acting in the best interests of the client and not merely a wishy washy statement to that effect.

It won’t be easy, and it will necessitate a move away from technical brilliance and towards commercial excellence.

In short, the legal advisor of the future will be one who is adept at finding solutions to client problems – even for those that haven’t arisen yet – rather than merely highlighting that a problem exists.

But, crucially, it is no longer the role of the client purchaser to consider this ( – are the days of Caveat emptor over?), but rather it is the role of the law firm seller to demonstrate it.