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Automation is creeping up on you

August 10, 2017

Contract management technology has been around for almost 20 years – and has had remarkably limited impact. While some administrative tasks are now widely automated, the bulk of contract management still depends on human intervention and knowledge.

The fact that so many systems implementations have failed has engendered a degree of cynicism, a sense that contract management is just too complicated for machines to master.

Well, if you are one of those who harbour that belief, it’s time to look over your shoulder because you may be in for a surprise. There is a whole new wave of technology that is rapidly coming over the horizon.

Scarcely a week goes by now when there is not some announcement of a new initiative. Blockchain and smart contracts grab frequent headlines. More quietly, we are seeing significant advances in deployment of artificial intelligence and advanced analytics. And perhaps one of the most immediate areas of impact is NLP or natural language processing.

Behind all these, the forces of digitisation and standardisation are working away, designing and building platforms, codifying content and debating where future contracts will be housed, how they will be designed and the form of global database governance and maintenance. Common Accord, Accord, Open Law, the Open Contracting Initiative …. these are just some from a long list of collaborative ventures that seek to drive new efficiencies in contract creation and management.

Right now, the agenda is being driven by a combination of lawyers and technologists – those who actually manage contracts are notable by their absence. Except, of course, IACCM. The association is engaged in many initiatives, seeking to convene, to coordinate and to ensure the voice (and needs) of the practitioner are heard. We also keep our membership informed through webinars, articles and – most important – our ContractTech track at the IACCM conferences (next up is IACCM Americas, in Toronto, October 11-13).

We can’t force you to look over your shoulder – but it would be the smart thing to do!

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