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Nick Whitehouse of Minter Ellison Rudd Watts on tackling digital innovation

Nick Whitehouse of Minter Ellison Rudd Watts on tackling digital innovation

CDO provides key insights on the digital shift organisations are facing.

Doing what’s best for your clients or customers should trump maximising profits every time you think about digital innovation, says Nick Whitehouse, chief digital officer at law firm Minter Ellison Rudd Watts.

"Digital is all about enabling and using an agile engagement with your clients, letting them access services in new, faster and most importantly, holistic ways,” says Whitehouse on the business technology shift organisations across sectors are facing today.

“The wider your engagement is, the greater value you create for your clients,” says Whitehouse, who joined the law firm in June last year.

“Harnessing this width brings scale which will fundamentally improve margin. These engagements don’t need to be perfect straight away, provided you have a continuous loop of client feedback and development.”

These engagements don’t need to be perfect straight away, provided you have a continuous loop of client feedback and development

Nick Whitehouse, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts


He explains how the law firm applies these principles to one of its subsidiaries, Safetrac, which provides online compliance training courses.

Read more: ​Gartner to CIOs: Take a board member out to breakfast

Safetrac is a good example of thinking about our clients’ needs. Safetrac offers clients an easy to use, auditable, online approach to compliance training, ultimately giving our clients peace of mind regarding the legal risks of compliance as well as a flexible and repeatable way of training staff. “

He says the suite of training modules continues to grow and is updated to stay relevant.

“This differs greatly from a traditional legal approach in this space and makes compliance accessible.”

Richard Wells, a partner at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, says businesses need to have an agile approach to delivering products and services “to take advantage of the scalability that digital innovation offers”.

Read more: 'Let’s face it, most organisations do not actively invest in the digital literacy of their teams'

"In doing this, the values and unique selling points that built the organisation need to be referenced – ignore this and a digital transition becomes more like a completely new venture . . . with the increased risk to go with it.”

Wells notes how these principles were applied in a recent project he worked on – cybersecurity training that was launched before the year end. Wells and Whitehouse had reviewed the content of the course to make sure it is compliant with New Zealand laws and is practical.

The course comes with automatic scheduling and a full suite of reporting, says Wells. “This means the organisation benefits from saving time in rolling out an enterprise wide training programme and also can be confident that everyone has taken the training and reached a certain required level of understanding.”

“Cybercrime is on the increase and it is not certain that NZ businesses are fully prepared for this new threat,” says Wells on the business driver for the course. This is backed up by the 2015 Institute of Directors NZIER Director Sentiment Survey, which showed that only 27 per cent of boards are cyber ready.

Read more: ​Cybersecurity: will it be the ‘it job’ of IT?

Businesses need to have an agile approach to delivering products and services to take advantage of the scalability that digital innovation offers.

Richard Wells, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts


Cyber attacks can be very disruptive to organisations and cost a great deal of time and money,” he states.

Read more: ​Unexpected implications arising from the Internet of Things

The course, including the assessment, takes between 20 to 45 minutes depending on the user’s level of knowledge, explains Wells.

He says the course applies across all industries and to any organisation that uses ICT systems.

But the course can be tailored if a client has a specific requirement. “This can be as simple as text changes e.g. putting the contact details of the IT helpdesk in the relevant part of the course through to creating specific in-house examples”.


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