Show your working

  • Marketing and communicating the benefits of new tools will be vital
  • Clients will want tools that they can understand and interrogate
  • Providers will be expected to offer free or value-added services

With the next few years likely to see the development and launch of many new tools and services, marketing and communicating the benefits of them will become a higher priority. This is for several reasons:

  • Many clients will be cutting budgets.
  • The vast range of new services likely to become available will need to be explained and their value demonstrated.
  • Many of these new services will come from start-ups which do not have the resources to market them on a large scale.

The combination of these factors means that there is a degree of confusion and even ennui among clients about what services are available and how they differ. Service providers are increasingly likely to realise that they need to go beyond traditional marketing and improve the way their services are presented to make them more accessible, flexible and imaginative. Two trends will push this:

  • Tomorrow’s clients will be people who have grown up with Facebook, WiFi and smartphones. They will expect information to be available in real time, wherever they are. They will also expect services to be intuitive and accessible – certainly available on a mobile device, probably on an app and possibly incorporating technologies such as speech recognition and computer vision. “People want to take away the keying-in and liberate time,” suggests one service provider.
  • Future clients will not just be IP professionals. They will also be business executives who don’t speak IP jargon or have the time to study claim charts or legal opinions. They will expect information to be presented clearly, visually and accessibly. “We need to create apps that our customers haven’t thought of yet,” says the CEO of one service provider.

So the bare minimum expected of service providers is that they improve the content and media that they offer through presentation and personalisation. But there will be other things that service providers can offer in the patent area.

One will be to ‘show your working’: as data becomes used more and more for commercial purposes, customers (both personal and business) are likely to demand more transparency in how tools work. That should not mean revealing all your secrets, but possibly giving clients an informed choice or allowing them to delve behind the results if they want. Everlaw’s e-discovery service already provides some such options; lawyers in particular, of course, like to feel that they are being kept fully in the picture.

Finally, there will be greater expectations that service providers offer free or value-added services, such as reports, thought leadership, events, surveys and even multimedia content. In this respect, they will be going down the same route as their counterparts in law firms and other professional services. As we will see in the next two sections, this is just one respect in which the competitive landscape is likely to intensify.

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