Financial basis

Accelerating Business: new forum to highlight fast operations

The ever-faster pace of business poses challenges for businesses and provides opportunities for a range of legal know-how providers to help find answers to these issues.

The Financial Times seeks to shine the spotlight on these providers, from established players to upstart newcomers.

For businesses of all kinds, the Covid pandemic has accelerated the emergence of hybrid working and triggered an overnight digitization of consumer and business activities. Now they are taking stock of the effects on their operations, just as a period of disruptive geopolitical change unfolds.

One of the effects has been to emphasize the need for speed. Competitive advantage can be hard earned but easily lost. It often depends on how quickly products get to market, how efficiently and smoothly business is conducted, and the user experience.

So, in a series of articles over the rest of the year, a new report from the FT will look at the demands placed on corporate back offices and how they are meeting them with the help of the growing legal ecosystem – which now includes legal services, technology companies, alternative legal service providers and the big four professional services firms.

The Accelerating Business report will draw on the FT’s extensive Innovative Lawyers programme, including the Intelligent Business and Digital Lawyers reports.

What happens next

  • The first in a series of seven articles, including informative case studies, will be published in May, with the rest appearing at monthly intervals. The case studies will be studied by the think tank RSGI.

  • The articles will form the basis of various events culminating in a forum in San Francisco in November. The theme of each paper will constitute a specific recognition category with the case studies making up the shortlist.

  • To be included in the search or considered for entry as a showcase, please contact [email protected]

The themes

  • Legal, not blocked. Corporate legal departments – often viewed by the corporate community and beyond as the biggest impediments to smooth operations – have undergone a revolution. How did they change their modus operandi? What are the business benefits of having an insightful and agile legal function? What does an operationally intelligent legal function look like?

  • Collaborative adjacencies. Which business functions are working closely with their legal teams to drive and achieve transformations? How is the legal team working with other areas of the business to accelerate their efforts? The article focuses on how legal teams can better collaborate with procurement, supply chain, finance, and human resources teams to speed up processes and unlock value.

  • The rise and rise of legal technology. The exceptional valuations of emerging legal technology companies are having both investors and the global legal industry sit up. What is the truth behind the promise? What are the most useful legal tools for businesses, and what are they? And how are legal tech companies changing the business of law firms?

  • The “Third Pillar”. Beyond law firms and in-house legal teams, the Big Four audit firms, Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs), and ALSP branches of major law firms are increasing their offerings. Approaches vary, but all see particular opportunity in more operations-focused work for larger companies. What is their value to companies and how do they hold their propositions?

  • Daily business speeds up. Commercial contracting in large companies is often the cornerstone of commercial activity. For some companies, value is created and lost in commercial contracts and other “business as usual” processes. How are approaches to procurement and other day-to-day processes changing, and how is this enabling companies to work faster?

  • Change Makers. Behind new developments are individuals who drive change and create the means by which businesses can meet the demands of 21st century business and society. These people could have a significant impact within their organizations, or at their head – or demonstrate leadership in their industry.

  • Lessons from showcases. We’ll review the best entries to paint a picture of operational change in large enterprises.