Before making the move to Beijing four years ago, Per Hoffman held roles in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He reflects on the pace of change in his new home.
Asia is a very impressive part of the world where people
are generally more technologically driven. It is this drive
that motivates companies to continuously innovate.
Asians are generally early adopters of tech, and customers are
very advanced when it comes to embracing new technology.
When I compare Asia to Europe everything is on a much larger
scale. The pace of innovation is unprecedented. Technology is
being embraced across Asia, but it is China that is leading the
way in technological innovation and development. The pace of
development in China is particularly interesting.
For example, when it comes to moneyless payments, China is
the most advanced market in the world. I rarely need to carry
a wallet anymore as everything can be paid for via a mobile
phone. Beijing is one of the biggest startup hubs for tech
companies and a leading place for AI technology, research and
development. Generally, the consumer and enterprise markets
are massive, and therefore the potential for developing and
implementing tech is apparent.
Ericsson has an established presence in China, where it occupies
nearly half the market for mobile systems. In recent times,
Ericsson has strengthened its market share by winning 5G
contracts with three major operators in China.
The importance of technological innovation has been cast into
the spotlight in recent months. Legal teams across Asia have
embraced standardised technology to remain connected. We
are using Microsoft Teams and SharePoint products. These
platforms provide a collaborative area, where teams across the
region can work together, for example to review documents.
We are considering introducing a new e-billing system
when working with our external law firms. From a contract
management perspective, we have various repositories for
sales and sourcing agreements.
Today, there are contract databases where you can search for
templates and find various clauses. The next step will be AI
based search engines, where the platform is itself intelligent
and an evolving algorithm informs the search results. It is quite
amazing to think about the opportunities associated with
AI when applied to legal work. We will eventually be able to
predict problems before they arise; we will know if something
may cause an issue in a contract before finalising a deal.
Despite all the advantages brought by legal tech, going
completely digital this year has not always been an easy task.
Technology cannot replace the atmosphere of a meeting
room or the human connections shared between individuals.
Working remotely also makes it more difficult to introduce
new employees into an office. You learn a lot from seeing how
members of a team behave and react to others.
Nevertheless, technology can also be used to bring legal teams
together. Managing legal operations across five countries
means video conferences and meetings are crucialPreviously,
we spent a lot of time travelling to meet internal stakeholders,
customers and suppliers. Travelling would take up a significant
amount of time. But since the pandemic, people have adjusted.
One positive is that meetings are typically condensed and well
prepared. In this sense technology has driven efficiency, or at
any rate it has led to people using their time more effectively.
As we look to the future, technology is expected to play a key
role in improving legal services, and within the next five years
artificial intelligence will play a significant role in transforming
the legal profession. As thing stand, it is rarely used by legal
teams, but the potential this technology has is revolutionary.