The Rise and Rise of Machine Learning Enabled Business Software

05 April 2017

Why your business needs to take stock of Machine Learning now?

You would have heard terms like ‘Artificial Intelligence’, ‘Machine Learning’, ‘Intelligence Assisted Contract Management’, ‘Predictive Intelligence’ and so on and so forth! It is easy to lose your sanity in the quagmire of technical jargon. However, my simple intention in this article is to help my readers circumnavigate the whirlpool and understand the true gist of what the various pundits are meaning to say.

Let us start with ‘Machine Learning’ (ML) and try and define this in the simplest fashion possible. Machine Learning is a field of Computer Science that enables computers to identify and learn from trends and patterns that are present in a particular data-set.

The next term is ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI), which can be defined to represent the capability of computers aided by Machine Learning to predict future events based on study of past and also intelligently manage the outcome. Sounds like Science Fiction straight out of a novel? Not actually! Possibly ten years ago it could have sounded like it but not now. Look around and you will see that we are in midst of an ocean of applications that leverage Machine Learning and have significant Intelligence capabilities:

Examples:

  • SIRI /CORTANA/GOOGLE NOW: Uses Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • IBM WATSON: Combines AI + NLP + Analytics to answer questions, model data, predict outcome etc., Primarily used in Weather, Financial modeling, Healthcare, Insurance etc.
  • Self-Driving Cars: Various automobile companies as well as Google are exploring options that will allow cars to drive as their own though a mix of NLP + GPS + Camera + AI. Remember Tesla?
  • Amazon/NetFlix: Don’t be surprised to see recommendations popping up on screen based on what you are browsing because complex algorithms are at work to recommend products/movies, shows that you might like to purchase

Now, that I have been able to refresh your memory so let’s go back to the question about why your business should be bothered about ‘Artificial Intelligence’ or ‘Machine Learning’? I would strongly recommend that you avoid any sense of false complacency here and ensure that you are on track! Your rival businesses are most likely already leveraging AI and ML to identify and adopt better ways of doing business. Access to AI and ML is no more limited to costly software but readily accessible at highly economical price point on monthly subscription basis thanks to the likes of Microsoft (Azure services on the Cloud) or Amazon (Amazon Web Services) and many others. Various apps are available for ready use in these massive cloud ecosystems that can help your business achieve new heights of performance!

Since the focus of my articles is upon how ML and AI are transforming the legal functions, I am now going to share with my readers the primary trends that are underway and which will transform the normal Legal Functions of today into the Tech enabled Legal of Tomorrow.

A true Enterprise Grade Contract Lifecycle Management Software (CLM) would absolutely have ML and AI integrated in to it. Enabled CLM software can literally transform your business in various ways. Below are some of the most important things that can be performed by such CLM software:

  • The software can analyse and review huge amount of contracts and identify legal clauses and rank them in different categories such as Red, Amber and Green. Those in Red represent clauses that are a show stoppers whereas those in Amber can be potential show-stoppers while those in Green are those that cause least amount of Friction.
  • A ChatBot enabled CLM software can literally enable your sales team to interact over chat interface with the Bot and request for contact on the go and the Bot can intelligently record the conversation and also generate a contract and include clause into it that are relevant to the transaction and ensure the clauses are least likely to cause any friction.
  • Intelligent CLM can predict the likely outcome of renewals and also produce intelligence around ways to improve renewals. The predictions can be in terms of language, clauses or something as simple as which day of the week to send renewal reminder emails?
  • An Intelligence endowed CLM software can also generate risk score for different stakeholders and intermediaries. Imagine what a blessing it would be if you can assess upfront the likely time and type of risk involved in negotiating a particular contract with a particular counter-party. That helps make your forecasting even better.
  • A smart CLM software can literally scan the contract received from a third party and underline contentious clauses for the Legal Counsel to review and propose alternatives without requiring a para-legal to go through each line of the contract with a fine magnifying glass.

As I have mentioned earlier, this is no science fiction but a ground reality already. In fact leading CLM software such as the Apttus CLM software that’s runs upon the Apttus Intelligent Cloud offers ‘AI’ + ‘ML’ integrated CLM that can potentially achieve the above benefits for their users.

However, a word of caution is important here:

    (A) Enterprise CLM is perceived to be not for everyone because it is expensive though it generates tremendous ROI in short time if implemented the right way. While there is a short term ROI, because of a heavy upfront cost small and medium businesses may not be able to take the plunge right away. There are many elements to a full CLM and for small and medium size companies and there are small steps to be taken toward it. The first being having all the legacy contracts in one centralized repository, thereafter finalized contract templates, formalized internal approval systems for each type of contract and negotiation type. It is advised to work with a CLM consultant who could handhold towards the high point in the learning curve.

    (B) ‘AI’ and ‘ML’ need time for generating reliable patterns and inputs after being implemented. Each Enterprise is unique so it can easily take up to 6 months for ‘AI’ and ‘ML’ components to perfect their predictions. And to generate near perfect prediction patience is definitely required and also significant amount of the time and money to enable these two components. However, it is an investment with quick ROI and it is a definitely a very much required investment.


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