Looking Behind ILTA Session Titles: Does KM “Miss the Point?”

We’re all cruising through the ILTA Conference session titles now in the final stages of making our maps through the Gaylord’s throng of session rooms. One session title that jumped out was John Alber’s Thursday afternoon session: “Five Reasons Why Terms Like "Practice Support," "Knowledge Management" and "Financial Services" Miss the Point.” That session looked like it might be a good candidate for the last afternoon of the conference—maybe not the same-old same-old. So I decided to ask Alber to elaborate on the session and give us some more insight into his choice of topic.

Alber is the Strategic Technology Partner at Bryan Cave and he leads three groups there that are at the center of Bryan Cave’s push for innovation. Bryan Cave has been widely recognized for its innovation, including being named at last year’s conference as the Innovative Firm of the Year. The three groups he leads are the Client Technology Group, the Practice Economics Group and the Accelerated Review Team. The name Knowledge Management is conspicuously absent from those groups, even though Alber admits that what they do is straight-ahead KM.

The session is not really about naming, Alber says. The session title was intended to be a bit provocative. “A sharp stick in the eye” is how he describes it. Alber says that the real thrust of the session is to examine the intention that underlies traditional KM and other technology-linked disciplines. He describes a traditional KM function as an “introverted” entity—something that is internally focused rather than tied to the core of the underlying business. As a consequence, he says, KM, Practice Support, LPM and other similarly introverted functions have barely any impact on profitability.

That doesn’t have to be. He points outside the legal sector at other very robust technology functions that are at the heart of their businesses  Some, in fact, have not only produced more revenue than their underlying businesses, but have outlived them and become the businesses. He will explore the characteristics of those highly connected and relevant functions with the aim of bringing some lessons back into the legal sector.

I highly recommend you check out his session.

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