7th November 2019
7th November 2019
By Charles Dimov, VP Marketing North America at ContractPodAi
Hosted in Phoenix Arizona, this year's conference took the theme of 'creating value through change.' If other recent general counsel, and in-house legal conferences are any indication, change is not only happening in the contract management space but is an element to be embraced. IACCM Americas Conference 2019 structured the event and invited leading industry experts to speak about three core tenets:
As a sub-theme, the industry is accepting and adopting technology faster than ever before. Change in the profession means leading the charge with emerging technologies like contract lifecycle management (CLM). And, at this year's meeting, CLM was more prominent than ever. Technology had a very significant presence throughout. Truly, technology is transforming the roles of contract and commercial management in its entirety. Part of the recurring message was to watch, forecast where the tech is leading contract management, and adapt for the future of the profession. Fortunately, this is for the best, as it is bringing an era of greater structure, organization, and insights which will only elevate the value of the profession.
Sally Guyer, CEO of international organization opened the IACCM Americas Conference 2019. She started off with a difficult question with what some feel is the foreboding emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The question was "what is our future?" Through the discussion, Guyer's brought home an important point that "IACCM is here to help you navigate through that future."
Notably, the IACCM Americas Conference 2019 culminates as the 20th year anniversary. What started as a hobby for Tim Cummins, has resulted in 60,000 members around the world. Congratulations to the organization for such consistent and strong growth!
Guyer also highlighted new needs in the industry. She encourages the members, "to think completely differently about how we plan to provide value to our organizations." In this respect, she brought a quote from the IACCM: "the winners are those who simplify the lives of others." In other words, the new approach and goal is simplify the complexity of contracts and to "design contracts for users."
The big reminder from the opening discussion was a quote from the EU Commission Feasibility Study: “modern economies are held together by innumerable contracts.” As such, there is much change in the industry, much opportunity, and a great responsibility to keep the lifeblood of businesses (contracts), moving forward.
An eye-opening workshop this year was the 'Contract Economics' session. Sally Guyer and Kingsley Martin led the engaging seminar. As Guyer put it, the intention is to "look at contracts as economic instruments." Whereas, Guyer stated that "after the contract is signed by all parties, you store it somewhere, you don’t look at it anymore, but instead you work on your relationship."
This workshop highlighted four key forces of change in contracting:
Ultimately, the session ended with another important observation from Guyer. She pointed out that, "unfortunately we have tried to cram every possibility into the contracts, and unfortunately we have taken the wrong approach. You CANNOT create certainty in the contract. You have to create an environment that can deal with uncertainty."
Naturally, this topic left many questions, and it will be a TBD for future research and studies.
Even on the topic of ethics, change is in the air. Not only are agreements adjusting to regulatory shifts, but we are also seeing a rise in social expectations on corporate values and behavior. Formal agreements are part of creating these ethical standards, guidelines, and norms. We are now witness to a rise in relational contracts that include elements of reputation, trust, and working together (even with adversaries) toward common goals.
Part of the the keynote discussions included a panel session on Getting Diversity and Inclusion Right. In addition, the ending session ended on an express discussion about ethics in business life, the corporation, and its reflection in contracts (like the NDA).
Another element of ethics is the contract simplification movement. Remarkable research by Kingsley Martin showed that a typical 50 page, high complexity contract might cost $51,500 to produce and complete. Yet by reducing the length and improving the readability score by 10 %, the price fell to $21,000 to produce and complete. So, should the profession NOT drive this message to its organizations - for the good of our respective business economies? Sure it is a business mandate, but is it not a professional ethical one as well... to make the new generation of contracts as readable, understandable, and as human as possible? For the good of business society, and our organizations - at the very least?
Thriving in business today means adapting and adopting fresh ideas, creative approaches, and new forms of relationship and commitments beyond the written agreement. Here the IACCM Americas Conference 2019 truly brought contract technology and commercial innovation to the forefront. The trade show floor showed a greater sense of performance-focused and outcome-based choices, for some of the management solutions proposed. If there was ever a doubt, contract lifecycle management (CLM) technology, risk management solutions, and eSignature technologies take the forefront.
IACCM Americas Conference 2019 reminded us all of the creative innovation happening right around us. Whether it be systems that measure the fairness of contract terms, or a language simplified driven contracting, the Shark Tank was NOT the session to miss. Here the innovative startups battled it out with their pitches and discussions of business issues, with the business 'shark' panelists. Well done everyone! Special congratulations to Ken Button, Founder & CEO of ContractSafe who was the final winner.
In short, this year's event was an inspiration for all commercial contract managers. There are major changes coming. AI technology is a wonderful game changer and is going the change the world. It will change the profession and many business economics. And, for those who plan well, it will elevate the profession's value to much greater heights. On contract economics, ethics, and commercial innovation - the meeting gave attendees plenty to consider - and an optimistic perspective forward.
Whether or not you were able to attend the show this year, if you are in the market for a CLM, then reach out to ContractPodAi. Consider the Contract Management Primer - a useful guide for exactly this purpose. To our surprise, it was an immensely popular guide, as we distributed all our pre-release copies at the booth this year. Best of all, there is a very powerful checklist at the end of the guide, to help you assess vendors. This will help you choose the best option for your organization. Otherwise, you can request a demo for a tour of our intuitive CLM solution to get you started.
VP Marketing North America
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