Monday, January 26, 2009

Inauguration at 35,000 Feet (aka Of Course, Technology)

I had the distinct pleasure of watching the 2009 Presidential Inauguration from the sky-high view at 35,000 feet, while en route to majestic Denver, CO for a meeting. Thanks to the wonders of modern streaming video technology, I was able to watch and listen to this event in real-time even though I wasn’t even actually on Earth’s surface!

While Obama’s inauguration was certainly inspiring, I was even more impressed with how far we have come in utilizing technology in our daily lives. Of course I was going to witness this, even if I would be traveling at 600 mph in mid-air. In fact, I expected to. After all, I create and adapt technology for a living. Why wouldn’t this be possible?

This “of course technology” attitude is a big part of what lies behind Valora and our push into document and population analytics. We often ask ourselves the same kind of why/why not questions: why would someone just automatically convert an entire electronic document population through to text, metadata and image? Why not figure out first what’s in there and whether anyone even cares about it? Why waste time and money hosting documents that will never be of any consequence? If the answer is, “because we don’t know what’s in them,” then we as an industry have collectively missed the “of course technology” idea completely.

If you had stomach pains and didn’t know why, you would not go to a doctor, have him slice you open in expensive and potentially risky surgery, and then try to figure out what ailed you! You’d be asked a lot of questions and you’d use surgery only as a last resort after rigorous examination and other attempted treatments. Indeed, your health insurance is specifically designed to make you and your doctor act that way! And yet, with litigation populations, we continually cut open the patient in the most expensive and time-consuming way possible, just to learn that 2 aspirin and a call in the morning would have sufficed.

Fortunately, the down economy is helping us, you might say forcing us, to re-think how we work and how we make decisions. Early case assessment, pre-conversion for ESI, population analysis, automated review and more are helping us understand what we have in our document populations and how to use it wisely. We are learning to separate out the useful from the not and to spend our limited resources wisely. For more on how Valora can assist in these area, please see our white papers on Population Analysis, and Automated Review and watch for an extensive article on this topic in this winter’s CASLM newsletter.

Eventually, my flight landed and the painful truth tinged my bright-eyed optimism. Obama’s got a lot of work to do. So do we.