New immigration policies – a case for automation.

New UK immigration policies are under fire as businesses and pundits alike predict the effects of greatly reduced access to unskilled labour. The new points-based immigration system is designed to cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering the UK while making it easier for highly-skilled workers to migrate.

Low unemployment rates challenge businesses
According to the office of National Statistics, the UK unemployment rate of 3.8 per cent is currently at its lowest since the mid-1970s, adding to the impending shortage of low-skilled workers. Despite this high rate of employment, Britain suffers from poor productivity growth. Some economists believe that a ready supply of cheap foreign labour is to blame by discouraging companies from investing in technology.

Investing in automation
Home secretary Priti Patel defended the UK government’s post-Brexit immigration regime, saying: “If we invest in people, including  the right investment in terms of new technology and skills, more people would be able to work in many sectors.”

Businesses now have to think about creative ways to fill the gaps as technology and business process automation comes to the fore. The UK immigration plan states: “Businesses will need to adapt and adjust to the end of free movement … It is important that employers move away from a reliance on the UK’s immigration system as an alternative to investment in staff retention, productivity, and wider investment in technology and automation.”

The message is clear
Businesses will be under increased pressure to automate routine processes, allowing highly-skilled workers the time to engage in work that needs specialised knowledge, skill or the human touch.

According to Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England: “The UK’s low automation adoption is part of our lagging productivity, especially for SMEs, which is preventing a much-needed rise in economic growth, wages and living standards. Automation could bring about a new focus on better, more creative jobs and shorter working hours,” he said.

This assertion is prompting some economists to question if one of the goals of the UK’s new immigration policy is to push business to fix the productivity problem addressed in the government publication: Automation and the future of work.

Investing in R&D
To fulfil the need for more technology, the UK government has committed to increasing investment in research and development (R&D) in the UK from the current 1.7% of GDP to 2.4% by 2027, with a longer-term goal of 3%, but Automation and the future of work warns that the UK’s current immigration policy would limit the country’s ability to attract the right skills for automation and robotics. It states that unless the UK government and businesses are able to create a pipeline of UK researchers and workers who can support the domestic automation industry, it will still be necessary to recruit from overseas.

The current adoption rate of automation technology among small and medium-sized enterprises is only 4%, compared with 28% in large businesses. The report noted that SMEs generally lack management experience and digital skills, making it unlikely they will adopt disruptive technology.

No-code automation could provide the solution
But what about no-code automation technology? By reframing automation away from resource-intensive technology, such as AI and IOT, no-code technology makes automation accessible to all organisations, no matter what the size.

Easily accessible online technology, such as AUTTO can provide an alternative to overly complicated, expensive solutions such as AI. Online automation solutions can be set up to automate day-to-day business processes within an hour, giving staff time to prioritise tasks that provide the products and the service that can transform a business.

Empowering remote workers.

A strategy for the present and the future.

With lockdown official, organisations across the country are scrambling to adjust to a workforce that needs to work from home. Managing remote staff can be challenging, but it also promises an opportunity to continue to serve customers while keeping staff employed and, ultimately, staying in business.

It’s easy to find advice for remote employees, instructing them how to be productive and inspired while working from home, but not much written for the employer. In addition to addressing an immediate need, a solid remote working strategy can not only help your employees, it could strengthen your business for the long term.

So how do you provide the best experience to empower remote workers? 

People first. A good work-from-home plan considers the wellbeing of employees. Do they have the tools they need? Are they empowered to do their jobs and address the issues that customers may have? Can you support them with health and safety advice? Is technology in place that can ease the burden faced by a workforce that suddenly has to adjust to different ways of working? Answer these concerns and you will have a solid strategy for managing and enabling a remote workforce.

Communication and collaboration. Remote working does not mean that staff are invisible, though, some employees may feel isolated. Address this by keeping staff up-to-date on new developments that may affect them and establish ways of working and that enables collaboration and encourages communication between team members.

The right environment. Create a supportive environment that allows staff to feel confident and supported by providing the information and tools they need to succeed. Simple-to-use, intuitive technology is an important part of this but time also needs to be made to allow staff the opportunity to come to grips with new technology and new ways of working.

Trust. Because remote employees aren’t sitting in an office, it’s sometimes easy to assume that they are not working. Often, the opposite is true. Without separation between work and home, remote employees often work longer hours than office-based employees. This type of pressure can add unnecessary anxiety and reduce productivity. Set clear work hours and encourage employees to have a healthy work-life balance.

The right technology: Encourage productivity and seamless business operation as employees move away from an office environment with intuitive and easy to use tools that don’t need lengthy training or additional skills. This automation needs to be appropriate, useful and easy to deploy. No-code automation is a vital part of this need.

With self-isolation and lockdown the new norm,  COVID-19 is altering society for the present but most likely for the future, too. As businesses shift to remote working they are setting a foundation and pattern for the way we work in the future.

A low-risk approach to Automation.

Start small, iterate and build upwards in complexity.

Innovation can be risky, especially when the stakes are high. So it’s not surprising that businesses, especially those in risk-averse industries, such as finance and law, are often slow to digitise tasks that have traditionally been completed by humans. Finance and law are heavily regulated, adding an additional hurdle.

Resistance to innovation doesn’t only apply to risk-averse industries. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), don’t often have the time nor the capital to invest in something that may, or may not work.

 

Will adopting new technology be worth the cost?

Change can carry high stakes. It is often difficult to find solutions that actually live up to their claims, a reality that is sometimes not apparent until a technology has been implemented, sometimes at significant cost. Add issues of compatibility, client privacy and inability to calculate return-on-investment (ROI) for cutting edge solutions and it’s no wonder that SMEs are weary of new technology.

The pressure to stay competitive can override resistance to change. For example, standardising processes and procedures is one way to streamline service and increase efficiency. This solution may streamline processes but it still requires a high level of staff time, the most expensive asset of any business.

It’s generally accepted that service-oriented businesses need to innovate to stay competitive, but how do you do this within a risk-averse landscape?

 

Reduce the risk of innovation by taking incremental steps

Digital transformation is hailed as the savior of industry, integrating cutting edge, frequently changing technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) into a new world of business practices. This often comes with a high price tag and high risk of disruption.

What if you don’t need transformation? What if your challenges could be addressed with a few incremental steps that don’t disrupt your business but make a big difference? Technology that allows you to make small changes is vital to this journey.

 

What can be automated?

The first step of any change, large or small, is to evaluate what part of your processes can be automated. Even the most personalised service will have repetitive elements or elements in common with other services you provide. That’s a prime spot for automation.

When you find this sweet spot, test it. Your test may run smoothly, it may run into a few hurdles  or it may reveal something else you need to. This is part of innovation and a good argument for starting small.

 

Iterate rapidly

When your test automation works, repeat it in the same place and find other processes this automation will work in. Replicating these simple business operations automations, or using them as a base for more complex action is a quick and easy way to integrate automation into nearly every business process. It’s a low-risk way to achieve quick wins that can improve productivity and customer service, boosting staff motivation as well as the appeal of the company to prospective customers and employees alike.

 

No code cloud-based service delivers big change with little disruption

At AUTTO, we have built the technology to make it quick and easy to automate repetitive tasks. Our no-code visual editor makes it easy to create small changes that have a big impact with drag and drop workflows.

We remove the cost of technology development with our cloud-based service so you can focus on providing personalised service while routine tasks are taken care of. Automate as little, or as much as you feel comfortable with while enjoying the benefits of transformation with little of the cost and risk.

The pressure is on for UK law firms to use LawTech.

The legal sector faces an enormous challenge in the way it navigates the change needed for client satisfaction and success. Changing attitudes and expectations around customer service, advancements in technology and the shifting legal landscape place new pressures on the client/lawyer relationship. The pressure is on to integrate technology into the practice of law.

Consumers want easy access and immediate results with an expectation of the type of innovation they see in other areas of business while, at the same time, the UK government continues to expand its interpretation of UK legislation around digital assets, delivery and evidence.

There is no arguing that digital has changed the way we help clients interact with the law. This is further complicated by the rapid acceleration of technology used in both business and law settings. As technology and client demands change, the overarching challenge to law firms is to navigate how technology is used to provide services while, at the same time,  protecting sensitive client data.

The LawTech Delivery Panel (LTDP) is an industry-led, government-backed initiative, established to support the transformation of the UK legal sector through technology. The LTDP is focused on identifying and addressing the most pressing barriers as well as catalysts for growth of the legal sector.

In order to do this LawTech Delivery Panel created a UK Jurisdiction Taskforce (UKJT), which carried out a consultation to identify the key questions that needed to be answered around cryptoassets and smart contracts – two particularly challenging aspects of using tech in law.

The objective of the consultation was to provide a solid foundation for what the LTDP’s report calls : “market confidence and a degree of legal certainty.” The taskforce addressed this by considering a number of legal questions concerning areas of perceived uncertainty.

Following the consultation, November 2019, UKJT published a legal statement that concluded: “As a matter of English law, cryptoassets have all the legal characteristics of property and as such, should be treated in principle as property.” The Legal Statement describes five key characteristics of a cryptoasset: intangibility, cryptographic authentication, use of a distributed transaction ledger, decentralisation and rule by consensus.

The Legal Statement further notes that one of the fundamental aspects of property is “ownership”, and that cryptoassets are capable of being owned. Whether English law would treat a particular cryptoasset as property ultimately depends on the nature of the asset, the rules of the system in which it exists and the purpose for which the question is asked.

UKJT’s statement also looked at smart contracts, addressing the question: “‘In what circumstances is a smart contract capable of giving rise to binding legal obligations, enforceable in accordance with its terms?”

The report was described by Sir Geoffrey Vos, the Chancellor of the High Court, and member of UKJT, as a “watershed” and something that no other jurisdiction has attempted.

British technology firm Tech Nation was appointed to deliver on the objectives outlined in the report by deploying funding of £2 million allocated by the Ministry of Justice to help fuel the growth of LawTech. Jenifer Swallow, former General Counsel at several leading UK tech companies and director of the LawTech Delivery Panel, is leading the executive delivery.

Swallow comments: “The worldwide smart contract market is expected to reach $300m by 2023 and the World Economic Forum predicts 10% of global GDP will be stored on the blockchain by 2027. It is great to see the adaptability of our common law system to fast-changing technology, demonstrated in this landmark legal statement from the UKJT.”

This is a time of unprecedented challenge and opportunity for the field of law, an opportunity to expand beyond the traditional concepts of law and reap the benefits of incorporating technology into the practice of law be that improving productivity, offering more individualised attention to clients, streamlining practices, increasing profit, promoting access to justice or all of the above.

If you would like advice on how to incorporate digital business automation into your firm, feel free to contact us at AUTTO.

Adapting to a new world.

It’s no surprise that the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) annual survey of law firms for 2019 focused on how the digital revolution continues to disrupt professional services. New technology, such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT), is being developed every day by forward-thinking enterprises.

The evolution of technology within cutting edge organisations has a knock-on effect for traditionally conservative organisations, such as law firms, who also need to evolve. Many larger firms are embracing lawtech to drive productivity and innovation, improve efficiency and control cost. According to PWC, eight out of the top ten firms identified technology as the key challenge to growth in the next two to three years. However, barriers to adoption are still widespread in the legal industry.

Complexity, scale and cost emerge as key barriers with security concerns topping the list. . However, PWC tells us it’s rare for senior management to take part in cyber risk and crisis management exercises. According to the PWC survey, many law firms just opt out of the advanced technology that’s becoming more common in sectors such as telecom and financial services.

Firms are right to be nervous about cybersecurity.   A whopping 100% of the top 100 law firms surveyed by PWC suffered a cybersecurity incident in 2019.  And according to Forrester: “In 2020, ransomware incidents will grow as attackers learn that holding data hostage is a quick path to monetisation.” As aggregators of sensitive client data,, law firms are vulnerable to these attacks and are rightly concerned about cybersecurity.

However,  avoiding high tech adoption and cloud-based services does not itself protect client data. The key – not always easy – is to strike a balance between the digital innovation that clients and employees expect and demand, with the cybersecurity necessary from a business, regulatory and ethical perspective. It is obviously vital for law firms to protect their own business and their clients from the loss of personal or sensitive information, not to mention  damage to reputation. But as firms face pressure for increased efficiency, productivity and growth, as well as better outcomes for clients delivered innovatively, law firms who do not embrace technological innovation risk being left behind.

One way to balance the risks and rewards is to avoid the temptations of disruption.  Disruption is a buzzword of the moment and sometimes seems to be presented as an end in itself. It is easily forgotten that true disruption involves challenging existing working models and the networks which support them. That may not be desirable, particularly where risk mitigation is important.  So, start small, trial with dummy data, and iterate and until you feel confident that systems are secure and workable from all angles

Risk can also be mitigated by ensuring the obvious safeguards are in place: make sure that your suppliers are properly certified, have cybersecurity plans and processes in place which they can describe to you. By taking these steps the benefits of  technology start to become available , saving time, and money, increasing productivity while increasing opportunities to spend more time on the things requiring personal  attention and expertise.

Technology is revolutionising business process management.

Gone are the days when business objectives are set in stone. Today’s businesses are dynamic, and when objectives change processes also need to transform. Business process management (BPM) – the practice of managing and leveraging business processes to achieve organizational goals can help enterprises keep up.

How do companies do BPM? 

Digital business automation is a form of business process management that builds a workflow system that automates tasks or processes while being guided by a business rules engine. The benefits of BPM include its mobile adaptability and built-in social tools that promote personalization and collaboration.

Who uses BPM tools?

Regardless of size, most businesses will find BPM useful, especially  SMEs.

Graphical capabilities or process editors

An important component of business process management is the modeling and design of business processes. At this stage, organizations utilize applications that have graphical capabilities, such as AUTTO’s component-based workflow tool.

A process editor is an intuitive technology that saves time in building a process, generally using a drag-and-drop interface. This no-code, intuitive way of building processes removes the burden for employees of having to learn new skills in order to complete their work and organisations to supply additional training.

An example of a business process model.

Workflow system or engine

Workflow systems offer a company increased agility because it does not have to follow traditional and protracted methods of changing business rules. Workflow-based systems, such as AUTTO enable these types of tasks. Moreover, a workflow system reduces administrative work so  increase the quality of their outputs.

System integration

Business process management tools are often developed for the cloud. This means that they have a native capability to function well with APIs.

Why does this matter? That capability allows a BPM solution to integrate with third-party applications, especially with data repositories and other sources, as well as with accounting management technology, cutting out the need to replicate information and the risk of  inaccurate information, incomplete data, and redundant information.

Integration also allows for the connection of a document management system so paperwork can flow at the same rate as processes and reduce or prevent bottlenecks.

Business analytics

Business analytics or business intelligence, the process of gathering and analysing information to help an organization optimize its processes is vital at all stages between implementation and assessment of business procedures.

Sophisticated BPM tools have business analytics modules included that present data in an engaging, graphical way in dashboards and reports. BPM solutions also enable users to drill-down into datasets from the dashboard.

Mobile and social tools

With the inclusion of native mobile versions of the software employees use every day,  an organization can empower its workforce to be more creative, more mobile and more flexible in the way it works.

The current state and the future of BPM software

Big players in the software industry have their own BPM platform offerings but that does not mean that these are the only options. Smaller vendors are emerging that focus solely on BPM. This single focus  gives opportunity to concentrate on specific innovation and develop something that goes beyond standard use cases.

Mobility is a hot trend with business process management platforms as organisations create interfaces that are adaptable to smaller screens. You can find a good overview of best practice at: Finances Online guide for business process automation.

Overall, the BPM solution market has great opportunity for growth as organizations become aware of how the latest technological innovations can help them address their business challenges.

Business gets personal.

Planning for the next decade.

The beginning of a new year is one of those occasions when humanity collectively pauses and reflects. This past decade has seen such rapid adoption of new technology that it’s not unreasonable to claim that the past 10 years could be the most significant since our ancestors started to record history. Nowhere has this impact been greater than for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Technology has leveled the playing field

The rise of mobile platforms and B2B tools has leveled the playing field, making it possible for startups with limited resources to compete with their larger competitors and work as equals with large corporate clients.

Online conferencing shrinks the world

To work internationally companies no longer need satellite offices in different cities. Online tools make it easy to jump on a quick video call with a customer in Paris or the US or a colleague working from home in the same city.

Customer experience is king

Affordable tools provide the data analysis businesses need to improve customer experience (CX) and increase revenue and profits. Organisations and individual staff members can now make decisions based on real data, rather than on assumptions or trial and error.

Empowered employees improve the workplace

Online communities now make it easier for people to research the culture of a prospective employer, to compare workplace stories with employees in other companies and to get the support they need with online tools. An empowered workforce has great potential to create a better, more productive workplace.

What’s next? The decade ahead 

So what’s in store for the next decade? As the pace of innovation continues to soar, we’re already beginning to see adoption of new technology that could have even greater impact on the next 10 years. There seems to be a shift, though, away from technology for technology’s sake towards the end result: how innovation can help organisations focus on greater business goals. Instead of asking: ‘What can the technology do,’ people are asking ‘Why do I need this technology? What can it do for me?’

Virtual and augmented begins to impact business

Over the past decade personalised experience has inched its way into our online lives. Smartphones are the norm. In fact, it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t carry one of these small personalised computers in their pocket, tracking their steps, managing their calendars and connecting them to the people in their lives at all times.

Virtual reality (VR) takes this personal experience a step further, often using mobile technology, to allow users to step into their own digital world. Augmented reality connects users’ real-world environment to this virtual reality.

This all sounds like an elaborate form of entertainment but we’re already beginning to see the impact on business in training scenarios, prototyping and design and customer service. Innovation that further links VR to practical applications could be a big growth sector for this decade.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning shifts

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (MI) have the potential to radically transform business in the next decade. However, this will be the decade where the hype is separated from reality. For example, radical medical discoveries enabled by AI will only be as transformative as the practical day-to-day application of treatment available. Self-driving cars are trending in the media, but an upswell of public opinion could shift this innovation towards a different goal, for example, creating low-cost, zero emissions vehicles.

The internet of things could combine with AI

From cars to watches, to smart homes, the internet of things (IoT) is everywhere. Gartner predicts that 20.4 billion IoT devices will exist this year. This number is expected to increase exponentially over the coming decade. Futurists are predicting a whole new boom in this area: the artificial intelligence of things, combining AI with IoT.

To benefit from these opportunities businesses will be challenged to develop strategies to address possible barriers such as costs, security concerns and new legislation due to changes in political climate.

Meeting the expectations of empowered employees

The next generation of workers are digital natives in every sense. Gen Z, often called Centennials, have been exposed to technology from a very young age. They tend to be technologically proficient with an expectation for high-quality content at all times. They may have less tolerance for uninteresting or stressful jobs and will expect a better life-work balance. This will bring new challenges for leaders in the workplace.

Micro-automation fills the gap

So how can SMEs navigate the minefield of cost vs resource vs need?

Many of the barriers of implementation of large-scale transformation can be addressed with micro-automation. By reframing automation, away from resource intensive technology, such as AI and IOT, micro-automation makes automation accessible to all organisations, no matter what the size.

With online automation solutions, such as AUTTO, SMEs can automate day-to-day business processes within an hour. Routine tasks that may seem simple but in reality cost a lot in time and resource can all be automated, with no technical expertise needed. Tasks such as HR onboarding, approval processes, creating and signing contracts and NDA’s and regulatory compliance processes can easily be automated, giving staff time to prioritise tasks that provide the products and the service that can transform a business.

Using simple automation in this way can revolutionise working practices.

Is biglaw ready for the benefits of transformational change?

While trends in new innovation are often surrounded by a certain amount of hype, that doesn’t mean that all new innovation is a fly-by-night fad. There’s a big difference between knowing what is genuinely valuable and discounting something just because it’s not been tried before.

Lawtech is evolving

Technology has changed everything in the workplace, both in the legal profession, and in the day-to-day lives of clients. Imagine going back just a few years and working without the easily accessible resources that we now take for granted, for example,  your smart phone. Only a few short years ago most people would have never guessed that we would be able to facetime our loved ones at any time from almost anywhere, through free and accessible wifi. Today a 5-year-old can do it.

Lawtech is evolving in the same way. Technology is constantly developing to fit the changing demands of the legal sector. Those who embrace these changes have the opportunity to drive business transformation, while others risk being left behind.

Clients ramp up their expectations

Clients today expect instant access to all services, including their lawyers, while price alerts, peer ratings and social media significantly weaken customer loyalty.  Add to this, the increased use of apps and online services for simple transactions and the future looks grim for law firms that cling to traditional business models.

Smarter innovation is the answer

Innovation is the key to minimizing this risk. However, implementing technology for technology’s sake is never a good strategy. Instead of throwing technology at a problem, the most successful digital transformation looks at business challenges first, then integrates the right technology. This gives Biglaw an advantage over seemingly more agile, smaller law firms. Larger firms have the resources to evaluate, integrate and test technology to achieve the best business outcome.

Freeing up time for the tasks humans do best.

According to Deloitte, 100,000 legal roles will be automated by 2036. The report estimates that technology has already contributed to the loss of more than 31,000 jobs in the sector. There’s a silver lining here, though: an overall increase of approximately 80,000 roles.  Most of these roles are higher skilled and better paid than the ones lost to automation.

By lowering the price of law it becomes accessible to a broader market while freeing highly skilled workers to spend more time on the tasks humans do best, such as advising clients, leading negotiations and appearing in court.  Instead of replacing staff, Lawtech can help law firms do the work they were already doing, but better, for more clients.

What’s not to like about that?

To learn more about Autto visit our website. Ready to get started? Book a free demo here

AUTTO Bags $655K

New investment signals the next stage for AUTTO.

We have found a real meeting of minds with Tangible in our desire to deliver rapid, practical automation that suits the legal industry.

Autto, the legal workflow automation platform, has taken a $650,000 investment from Angel investors and US-based ALSP, Tangible, previously known as the Ashe Legal Group, which offers a combination of tech and legal support. The two companies will also now work very closely together, with the American business helping to develop Autto-based products for the market.

The move follows a period of investment seeking that Autto commenced some months ago. Rather than coming back to London with a VC fund as a new investor, they have returned with a legal and tech business as a partner.

As readers know, Autto provides an easy to use, drag and drop-style digital system that helps firms and in-house lawyers design workflows that can help steer staff through the production of certain types of document, or for example, guide them through a series of steps in a legal matter, or become part of a bespoke practice management structure for a team of lawyers working on a specific stream of work.

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How to Automate a Complex Process without Writing a Line of Code

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