Screen Capture: Harvard Business Review

In an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “The Industrial Era Ended, and So Will the Digital One,” Greg Satell – innovation writer, speaker and author of Mapping Innovation (McGraw-Hill, 2017) – casts an eye over the history of technologies like electricity that have, in their time, taken the world by storm and transformed the human environment.

“Every technology follows a similar path of discovery, engineering, and transformation,” Satell says. However, he points out, they share another common feature: eventual decline.

“Today digital technology is all the rage because after decades of development it has become incredibly useful. Still, if you look closely, you can already see the contours of its inevitable descent into the mundane.”

Satell sets out three reasons why he believes the digital era that has revolutionized every aspect of our lives is now entering its “twilight” – and then goes on to forecast where the next loci of innovation are likely to appear. Writing in Digital Tonto, he says:

We need to start preparing for a new era of innovation in which different technologies, such as genomics, materials science, and robotics, rise to the fore.

Law firms have two interfaces with their external world. They must not only assist clients in coping and dealing with that world, they must also optimally operate in that world themselves. Among other challenges, that means staying ahead of the game by watching the trends and adapting as necessary when the focus of technological innovation changes.

Some lawyers are up to speed on technological progress and ready for their clients’ questions; others have barely entered the digital era themselves. Which ones are more likely to succeed in the years to come, and which to enter their own “twilight” long before they are ready?

I welcome your feedback on this or any other matter related to the law, either in the comments below or directly via email.