Albert Einstein wrote: “In the midst of every difficulty lies opportunity.” As we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, these words give us hope for what the “next normal” may bring.

Indeed, looking back to 2008–2009, we see that the last major financial crisis ushered in an era of efficiency for many professional services firms. Although some firms had already battened down the hatches, the Great Recession drove many professional services firms — in law, accounting, consulting, and other fields — to find new ways to improve profitability while enhancing growth prospects.

That era saw the advent and expansion of dedicated business services functions managing risk, business development, marketing, pricing, and finance. Work was sent to efficient cost centers, and firms focused on eliminating redundant processes. At the same time, investments in automating key workflows — like client selection and risk management — soared.

What will be the legacy of the global health and economic crisis born out of COVID-19? The era of the connected firm. In the same way as the Great Recession launched an industrywide efficiency mandate, the COVID-19 global health and economic crisis will usher in an era of unprecedented connection. Just as the last economic downturn did not singlehandedly create the efficiency era, evolution of the firm’s operating model has been simmering for some time. Firms have been experimenting with enhancing profitability, implementing dynamic labor pools, driving their clients’ success with key-client programs, and transforming business models with new ways of thinking about superior client value and multichannel approaches.

All of these concepts rely on harnessing the inherent potential of investments firms have already made in their people, processes, data, and technology — investments that fuel growth, enhance collective expertise, sharpen differentiation, and improve costs. All the ingredients are already in place for even greater success. Now, the core issue is bringing them all together to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

The very essence of a firm is its people. Talented people join a firm based on the promise of access to greater expertise, relationships, support, technology, and ideas. The current environment presents firms with the opportunity to successfully elevate the capabilities of the people they’ve assembled, helping partners and professionals to share intelligence, capitalize on expertise, and work collaboratively — both to win more business and to deliver results in ways that delights their clients. Collectively, this symbiotic operation is the connected firm.

Although the promise of the connected firm is exciting, getting from that goal to its actualization can prove challenging. Especially at scale, smoothly proceeding from first touch to final outcome can be challenging or even elusive. To smooth that path, firms must leverage technology that understands the relationships or connections between the people, processes, and data of a connected firm — that is, they must put the connected platform at the heart of their practice.

In so many other industries, over the past several years technology enabled true transformation. It’s now time for professional services firms to share in that promise: A purpose-built solution — joining together your people, your processes, and your data — to drive your success in our “next normal” period.

To learn more about implementing the power of the connected firm, watch the Intapp Connect Virtual Session keynote replay and join us for the remaining sessions.

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