Even technophobes can harness technology. Janette Loh talks us through the various steps of her
ambitious digital transformation project.
I'm certainly not someone others would describe as techsavvy, but I do believe in the value of digital transformation
at every level and am constantly reviewing and re-reviewing
tech solutions in the market. For example, some years back,
contract automation solutions were generally cost prohibitive,
but I have noted that in recent years they have become more
A lot of the legal tech we use is developed in-house. The first
project we embarked on is a contract management system we
call iCON, which allows internal clients to self-manage ownership
and archiving of their contracts while allowing the legal team
ease of search and oversight. Auto-alerts can also be customised
to remind contract owners on impending contract expiry.
We moved on to develop iASK, a legal services request system.
This works like a ticketing system and helps us monitor and
track requests from other divisions in a more efficient manner.
The status and response times of requests can be tracked,
along with history of contract negotiations with specific
external parties for reference in new transactions. More
importantly, iASK also acts as an internal knowledge database
to understand better how certain requests were handled for
consistency and facilitate knowledge transfer for new joinees.
Over time, we've expanded this to be able to assign requests
to different teams within the function such as intellectual
property and product regulatory. We are also able to loop in
matters from other Canon companies under our supervision in
this region. As Canon Singapore is the regional headquarters
for Canon sales and marketing business in South Asia and
Southeast Asia, this helps us to capture matters carried out not
just in Singapore but at the regional level as well.
The latest tech we've been working on is called iREG, which
is a derivative of iCON. Instead of contracts, iReg will be used
to record all licences and certifications that are related to our
business and products. The system allows stakeholders to track
the status of things like licenses or certifications and trigger
actions to be taken. The interface allows stakeholders to easily
obtain a snapshot of the business and product regulatory
compliance in our region. Users are also able to tag products to
specific requirements so that in the absence of a requisite license
or certification for any product, red flag alerts are triggered.
We hope to integrate this with our order and shipping system to
minimise the risk of shipment of products which may not have
fulfilled the requisite regulatory requirements for going to market.
At our team level, I advocated some years back the use of what
we call the Activity Log System, which is similar to the system law
firms use to record their lawyers' time costs. While there wasn't
then an immediate need for such data, I foresaw the necessity
to address matters ranging from internal or cross company
charging, tracking productivity at both individual and team level
and understanding better the nature of work conducted.
I was fortunate to be able to leverage our IT team's existing
system with minor customisations to suit my objectives. It took
a while for my team members in the region to get used to the
concept of keying in time costs. However, I believe in recent
years, they have learnt to appreciate the value of this brings.
In terms of external resources, we use DocuSign as an
e-contracting solution. Our contract volume may be relatively
lower compared to other industries and electronic contracting is
still curtailed in certain jurisdictions within the region under our
care. However, we recognise the value of a tracked electronic
contracting process and I wanted to embark on it early.
Collaboration between Legal and IT is clearly key in the
development of bespoke tools. A critical factor for a successful
collaboration is ensuring that we do not take our IT resources
for granted (which tends to be the case where internal costs
are not so visual). As such, I fully support our IT's team recent
efforts in helping their internal clients visualise the IT resources
and cost expended for each project better. They are after all
a service provider to us as we are a service provider to our
I suppose legal tech invariably leads to a discussion on the use
of AI. I have spoken with other GCs who have used artificial
intelligence to understand better its practical value. At the basic
level, for example in terms of automated contract generation,
there is certainly value. However, extending its use to a larger
scope such as contract reviews may have differing levels of
output value depending on the organisation's needs and the
source data it can provide. There are also concerns of output
reliability and risks and responsibility.