Keys To Current Awareness In A Fast-Moving World

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 08:16

In today’s fast-paced, highly competitive world, current awareness is critical. It’s important to stay abreast of the latest developments that impact your business, industry, customers and competitors, as well as the legal and regulatory landscape in which they operate.

Business opportunities can arise unexpectedly, and competitive landscapes can suddenly shift. But all too often, these critical developments are learned through interactions with outside counsel or customers and, even worse, after competitors have already acted on the information.

The problem is not a lack of information. Most of us are bombarded with news headlines and alerts that feed us a steady stream of information throughout the day. But considerable time is wasted sifting through information that is outdated, duplicative from multiple sources, or simply not relevant. Significant bottlenecks arise in trying to organize and prioritize the flood of information. And the constant struggles to do so are not only time-consuming but distract from other critical tasks.

At the same time, information doesn’t wait. By the time you’ve sifted through countless headlines and irrelevant news items, someone else (such as a competitor) may have already gotten the jump and acted on that information.

In speaking with customers and learning what is most important to them, we understand that there are several keys to effective current awareness:

Authoritative Information

With the growth of the Internet, there are more information sources at our disposal than ever. But these sources are far from equal. Misinformation, incomplete reporting and rumor abound. Corporate counsel need to know that the sources they are using are authoritative, reliable and comprehensive.

In addition, a truly comprehensive current awareness view requires several different types of information, including business insights, detailed financial information and current developments in the law and in government. Many sources can provide only one of those types, leaving the user to track down other sources in order to form a complete picture.

Another important consideration is using current awareness sources that have strong editorial practices, utilizing experts and editors that constantly monitor content and have an in-depth understanding of particular industries and practice areas.

Customization

Your current awareness needs are unique to you, your business and your industry.

Current awareness tools need to have effective user controls for customizing searches and setting up alerts that ensure the user receives only the information that is most pertinent to his or her needs. Users also need to adjust the frequency of reporting and how they want alerts delivered to them – whether by email, HTML, XML, RSS, portal, etc. In this manner, users can tailor information feeds and alerts to their unique workflows.

Actionable

Information is power, but only if users are able to act and make informed decisions based on that information.

Users need to be able to quickly and easily share current awareness information with colleagues and co-counsel. An effective way to do this is through automated tools that allow users to create customized newsletters. This way, users automatically know which information is being shared, and with whom.

One Stop

Information flows are more efficiently managed through a single access point. Many of us are bombarded with news and alerts from myriad of sources. This can make it difficult to see the big picture, such as how breaking news ties in with corresponding legal developments.

New tools such as Thomson Reuters Practitioner Insights on WestlawNext consolidate legal insight and analysis on companies, industries and practices into a single, practitioner-focused page. It combines these insights with litigation materials, primary law and secondary sources to provide a single, unified current awareness view.

In addition, rather than retrieving multiple alerts on legal developments from various sources, WestlawNext now combines WestClip, KeyCite Alert, Docket Alert and Westlaw Court Wire Alert into a single Alert Center with reporting and newsletter functionality.

Mobile Access

Accessing current awareness information via smartphone or tablet is not merely a convenience, it’s a necessity. In today’s global business environment, business news and legal developments can break at any time. Being the first to know can translate into first-mover advantage. And mobile access can provide up-to-the-minute updates during final preparations before a user walks  into a meeting or negotiation, or enable a user to prioritize what needs to be done even before arriving at the office in the morning.

My Business Intelligence from Thomson Reuters is one such resource. My Business Intelligence is a mobile site optimized for use on tablets so that users can actively monitor M&A activity, dockets, disclosures and news for companies, industries and practice areas in real time wherever they may be.

Staying Ahead Of The Pack

As businesses face heightened global competition, keeping ahead of the pack by being up to speed on breaking legal developments has never been more important for legal professionals. New current awareness tools can make this easier and more effective by providing insightful, actionable information as it occurs.

Jill Roisum is Senior Director, Product Development, Thomson Reuters.

Please email the author at jill.roisum@thomsonreuters.com with questions about this article.