Why CMOs can show the route to a unified data approach within professional services firms

Why CMOs can show the route to a unified data approach within professional services firms
Darryl Cross is practice group leader at Intapp.

Business practices completely based on precedent can no longer be relied on with today’s market dynamics. The professional services landscape is increasingly client-centric, meaning organisations need to constantly evaluate their business models, leverage the data at their disposal and prioritise effective collaboration to remain competitive.

Deloitte’s recent survey of chief marketing officers revealed that many organisations are implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in their marketing toolkits in order to drive collaboration that in turn drives results. However, the professional services sector is lagging behind with implementation.

Despite being viewed as trusted advisors, CMOs are not always the primary drivers of strategy and mission critical decisions. It is vital for professional services to unleash the full potential of modern CMOs, who can advance marketing from a supportive function to a strategic partnership. Such modern CMOs can dramatically increase profitability, realisation, and retention by creating data-driven strategies and tactics underpinned by smart collaboration and technology.

Turn siloed data into shared data

Data in siloes can often become fragmented, task and audience specific and prevent collaboration. This is often the case in law firms, which, while being massive content creators, are historically reticent to share information broadly amongst their peers. In fact, 42% of firms do not have a centralised process to collect, store and analyse data on an ongoing basis. Even when a centralised system or process is implemented, the majority are data legacy systems and are inconsistent with the rest of the firm’s workflow. In addition, data that is not transparent and readily available to all lawyers may be treated as suspect or unreliable.

However, CMOs who adopt the right systems and processes can capture the day to day activities of the practice of law that can be used to make better decisions related to the business of law. By combining confidential internal financial information and relationship intelligence with external dynamic content, data becomes actionable. As a result, modern CMOs are able to meet shifting client demands by utilising data to drive growth, document engagement wins and demonstrate the exponential impact of collaboration.

Modern professional services firms recognise data as a strategic asset and look for ways to enable it to flow throughout the firm where and when it is needed to maximise insights and value. As an added bonus, the efficiency gains made by data that flows are massive and allow for even more investment of time, capital, and lawyer attention.

Drive data, drive satisfaction

With 80% of law firm revenue typically coming from less than 20% of clients, a data-driven approach which anticipates client needs is required in order to ensure continuous client satisfaction. At some firms, an even smaller share of clients drive over 90% of the profitability. Therefore, using data and technology to focus on the right clients is essential.

Marketing teams with a greater ability to focus enables professional services firms to stay ahead of client demands and anticipate their needs. When lawyers must rely on instinct and guesswork for thousands of clients, they are permanently in a reactive mode. When CMOs help drive the right data about the right clients at the right time, lawyers and be proactive and predictive. This creates satisfaction for the client as well as the lawyer.

In a client-centric profession where the lawyer is still the principal point of contact, CMOs must have an in-depth knowledge of their clients and the potential work available. To support this, a proactive and sophisticated business development strategy must be developed by tapping into the data that is naturally generated during client intake, conflict screening, billing, and other daily operational activities.

This insight and data drive approach eliminates the random acts of marketing and allows CMOs to spend more time, energy and discipline on enhancing client experience. Moving to a robust platform which allows for powerful strategies such as key-client planning, lateral integration, and network development is intrinsic to the growth of professional services firms.

Collaborate to modernise

When it comes to the most complex client matters, lawyers must collaborate to achieve the best result possible. Similarly, identifying and acquiring complex client matters drive the need for further refinement of business development strategies. Therefore, professional services firms which embrace collaboration and emerging technology, like they do for their most critical client engagements, are in a better place to accelerate revenue growth.

With the right systems in place, CMOs can serve as the fulcrum between the firm and the client. The CMO must match the expertise of the firm with the immediate client need and rapidly identify the right person to make contact—before their competitors do. In the past, this was an impossible task across practices, offices, and other boundaries where silos and voluminous collections made more data a liability. However, with a unified data approach made possible by today’s technology, the firm’s future is in their control.

CMOs can accelerate the shift to a modern business development strategy by leveraging technology and data to place the clients’ needs first. Technology and also provides CMOs with the capabilities to make informed and confident decisions and recommendations, which reinforces their proper role as the expert when it comes to what to do next. Collaboration across the firm on a massive scale, with the CMO and their team as the hub, is the result.

The positive impact of collaboration is shown quickly through increased financial performance for both the firm and the client. If technology and a unified data approach can build a sustained, competitive advantage, it should be viewed by the CMO as mission critical.

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