The ABCs of Strategy: AI, BI and CI

As technology grows more sophisticated, it becomes crucial as a driver of strategy in all areas of business. Marketing is no exception. This article gives an overview of three types of intelligence that can be useful in developing strategy, and how they can shape legal marketing. Brace yourselves, because we’re going out of order.

Business Intelligence (BI)

Business intelligence is using internal quantitative data to make business decisions. The data can come from finances, time entry, and social media and web analytics, among other things.

In many cases, law firms are already collecting this data across a variety of roles including marketing, HR, and accounting. To make an actionable difference, the data that’s collected needs to be scrutinized and understood. This can be accomplished with third-party products from companies such as BigSquare, Thomson Reuters Elite, and Qlik.

The possible applications of BI are endless. Law firms can use social media analytics to determine what topics to post and when, and shape their content creation based on website statistics. On the finance side, data can be scrutinized to determine which areas are most profitable and how to staff more efficiently.

Competitive Intelligence (CI)

Competitive intelligence is using external qualitative data to make business decisions. This covers analyzing data about customers, competitors, and the marketplace as a whole. Of course, it’s much less likely that firms can get the same raw numbers that they have about their own business, so CI is necessarily less quantitative.

Often, CI in a law firm falls under a research services department. Some firms have dedicated CI professionals.

CI can help with business development, RFPs, conference prep, and more. An attorney going to a client meeting can use information about that client’s company and industry. A partner may want to follow news about her top clients. Most firms are likely already using CI to drive strategy, at least within practice groups.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence is a method which can be used to gather and process BI, and therefore help make business decisions. AI encompasses the study of intelligence demonstrated by machines. It is often used to describe the various applications of machine learning. Machine learning refers to computer programs that improve performance on specific tasks through repetition.

AI is growing rapidly and is already a part of many industries. While it’s still new in the legal marketing sphere, there are already a handful of AI applications being used in legal marketing. It can drive search that feels more natural for a firm’s website visitors. AI can, for instance, learn when the best time to post on social media would be and schedule your post for that time, something that companies like ClearView Social are doing now.

For an in-depth dive into AI in legal marketing, watch this LMA webinar.

Law firm strategy benefits from understanding the patterns that can be found in the firm’s own data, and in competitors’ and clients’ data. Using technologically savvy solutions to interpret this data can help firms differentiate themselves from an increasingly competitive field. If you are driving strategy at your firm, it’s important to look into the AI, BI, and CI options out there to help you make the right decisions.

By Rachel Patterson, Digital Marketing Technology Coordinator, Crowell & Moring LLP, for the Second Quarter 2018 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter

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