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Evisort’s Future of Contracting Conference Explores the Future of Contract Management and AI

Jerry TingWhat is the future of contracting? Only two things are certain: dramatic change and artificial intelligence (AI). On November 9th, Evisort hosted our first-ever virtual conference, “The Future of Contracting.” The conference explored the evolution of contract management, success stories from legal teams that have implemented innovative contract management solutions, and best practices to help attendees stay ahead of the curve.

The Future of Contracting Conference featured prominent speakers from top companies including Microsoft, Bank of New York Mellon, Keller Williams, Adobe, and Jelly Belly, with Evisort’s diverse team of contract management experts moderating sessions. The conference concluded with networking roundtables where attendees could engage Evisort experts in topical discussions or see live demonstrations of the platform.

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Keynote From Paul Branch of WorldCC

For the keynote address, I had an engaging conversation about the evolution of contract management with Paul Branch, Chief Networking Officer at WorldCC (the World Commerce and Contracting Association). Paul has been involved in the AI technology space for more than eight years, so he has seen the arc of how AI has shaped contracting. He emphasized that AI tools can enable contract professionals to do many exciting, useful things, but said there needs to be a greater understanding of how technology fits into the big picture.

Paul mentioned that AI technology can lift more of the mundane, repetitive work off the shoulders of in-house lawyers so they can focus on more substantive, interesting work. AI can make the contracting process more efficient and more reliable, reducing contract cycle time and driving deal velocity. It’s probable that return on investment for AI will increase as legal departments continue to figure out how to leverage the technology to their greatest advantage.

Paul and I also conducted a spontaneous poll of the conference attendees, asking which of them were currently using AI to extract data from contracts. Only 25% said yes while 75% said no, clear evidence that there are still many in-house lawyers and corporate legal operations professionals who have yet to tap into the power of machine learning and natural language processing with their contract management systems and workflows.

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Evisort Product Showcase: New Intelligent Dashboarding, and What’s Next

Riley Hawkins, Evisort’s Co-Founder and Senior Director of Product, explained how Evisort turns contracts into data. Evisort recently introduced Intelligent Dashboarding, which leverages AI to automate self-populating visual updates on contract data. Intelligent Dashboarding allows clients to create accurate, powerful charts that show granular detail on all of the organization’s contracts.

Riley made the analogy that contracts reside in a data “black hole” at many organizations, as their contents are not readily accessible. Evisort is dedicated to solving this problem, inviting customers and prospects to “bring your own documents (BYOD)” to test Evisort’s AI live and witness for themselves how well the AI extracts contract data.

Riley noted that Evisort will be launching an AI Command Center in the near future, further developing the platform into a true “Google for contracts.”

Next Generation of Contract Management

Executives from Care Initiatives, Keller Williams, and Jelly Belly convened to discuss the “Next Generation of Contract Management.” The panel explained that most organizations either have no contract management solution, or use a legacy document management system that wasn’t designed for contracts. They expressed the need to implement a centralized contract repository that can efficiently extract key information and automatically track key terms such as parties and deadlines. The speakers also discussed how using a dedicated contract management platform has enabled them to establish clear rules and processes, such as who can edit contracts or sign for a particular type of agreement.

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Future of Contract Review

In-house counsel from BNY Mellon and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals discussed what initially drove them to overhaul their companies’ legal operations. Their shared objective was to improve the contracting experience for both customers and employees, driving greater efficiency and liberating lawyers from tedious, repetitive contract work.

Both panelists highlighted AI technology’s ability to quickly extract and analyze data, reduce time to agreement, and establish data milestones through automation. They envisioned that going forward, automated contract analytics will enable teams to more effectively leverage historical information contained in legacy contracts when negotiating new business deals.

Data-Driven Lawyer Insights

A legal operations executive from Microsoft discussed how his team implemented contract intelligence to become a more data-driven organization. Business teams need data, and AI enabled the Microsoft legal team to provide that data and tackle problems they couldn’t previously address. Contract intelligence transformed the legal department’s relationship with other parts of the business.

The speaker explained that the Microsoft team started by identifying a niche use case for the contract intelligence platform: billing, procurement, and matter management. It simply didn’t make sense for them to have highly-paid, overworked attorneys doing bill reviews, so Microsoft leveraged Evisort’s AI to track billing information in contracts and other types of documents such as invoices. Switching to a data-driven approach to contracts enabled them to provide the finance team with valuable data on payment terms and discounts, leading to tens of millions of dollars in savings.

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Adobe Discusses OCR Challenges and Solutions

Two Adobe technical team members discussed some of the challenges that Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology faces when it comes to translating scanned documents into interactive text, and how Adobe’s technology tackles those issues. Adobe has spent a lot of time training their AI to recognize not just text, but also formatting and presentation. This approach enables the OCR technology’s output to properly reflect the context of the original document.

The speakers noted that since the coronavirus pandemic has driven a widespread shift to remote and hybrid work arrangements, it is imperative now more than ever for technology providers to create innovative solutions that help people work more effectively regardless of when or where they do it.

About Evisort and the Future of Contracting Conference

Our goal with the Future of Contracting Conference was to bring together a community of Evisort clients, business partners, and industry thought leaders who are committed to advancing contract intelligence technologies. We were pleased to see the engagement of all of the participants, from the speakers to the attendees who joined our networking roundtables.

Evisort is committed to educating the legal and business communities on legal technology and innovation. In spring 2022, I will return to teach at Harvard Law School (from which I graduated in 2018) with Memme Onwudiwe, Co-Founder and EVP at Evisort, also a Harvard Law alumnus (graduated 2019). As lecturers at Harvard Law, Memme and I will teach a Reading Group entitled “Startup Entrepreneurship and Innovations in Legal Technology.” We are determined to show law students, practicing lawyers, and other contracting professionals that they can use their law degrees and business experience to innovate in their fields and blaze interesting, fulfilling career paths.

Evisort’s Future of Contracting conference recording can be viewed here on demand.

Jerry Ting is CEO and Co-Founder of Evisort, a company that uses artificial intelligence to help businesses categorize, search, and act on contracts. Jerry co-founded the company while still a Harvard Law student, and has since been named to the Forbes 30 under 30 and Silicon Valley Business Journal's 40 under 40 lists. Evisort raised a Series B round of $35 million in February 2021. Jerry is also a lecturer at Harvard Law School.
 

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