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The Role of IT in Innovation: Friend or Foe?

The Role of IT in Innovation: Friend or Foe?

A lack of IT agility can stop growth dead in its tracks, but so can a business that fails to see IT as a strategic partner

Origins of a Winning Project

Seeds for the K&L project were planted in 2001 when an industry group association was looking for a legal firm to do what its current one could not: quickly deliver high-quality legal content to a distributed base of users. Up to that point, legal information (such as updates on industry-relevant cases) was delivered to its members via CD-ROM. If something changed in the legal arena, the association had to either wait until the next quarter to update the information or send out paper notifications, both of which were cumbersome.

The association (which Agnoli declined to name) turned to K&L. The legal side was confident that it could offer the information the client sought; the question was whether the firm's IT capabilities were up to the challenge of this centre-stage project. Agnoli said this posed a risk and an opportunity for his IT group, adding that it relied on a team that had built a strong infrastructure and a trustworthy track record of performing well (see "Six Keys for Creating an Innovative IT Team"). That track record was key to starting the project and building the foundation of the resulting innovation: The IT team worked with K&L lawyers and the client organization around strict project development guidelines and with multiple checkpoints.

In 2002, what resulted was a technology platform that combined off-the-shelf Web-based applications with custom-built tools. For example, the system uses packaged software's document management functionalities but incorporates custom-built online query and search capabilities. This allows users to search legal cases and commentaries by industry, area of law and information access requirements. Content creation, review, approval and posting are managed by a workflow process, which allows K&L lawyers to quickly update the site to help clients understand important, emerging issues.

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