The Covid-19 pandemic changed the professional services sector overnight.
Firms across the UK reacted quickly as the country shut down, adapting to new ways of
working and adopting unfamiliar technology.
And some professional services firms didn’t just react – they thrived. The pandemic acted as
a catalyst for these businesses to realise that adopting new technologies can revolutionise
But what can we learn from those who have chosen to invest in digital change?
To find out just how important continued investment in technology is to the professional
services sector and the UK economy’s rebound from Covid-19, we partnered with the Centre
for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).
The results point to a potential £232 billion uplift in the UK economy by 2040 across both public and private sectors – a 6.9% rise in GDP.
Across the UK’s professional services, there is a £16 billion opportunity to be had in that time
– increasing the size of the sector to £349 billion.
Professional services firms have adapted better than most – compared to other areas of the
private sector, our research found that these firms have a ‘high’ current level of digital
Now, there is an opportunity to build on this progress by investing in further innovation. To
understand how some firms are already doing this, we spoke to industry leaders in the
sector to hear their digital transformation stories.
Streamlined workflows and better client relationships
We know from Cebr’s work that digitally enabled law firms are finding they have more time to focus on client-facing work, where they can add the most value and drive the most revenue growth.
They’re increasingly leaving the admin to digital tools, such as workstream management software, that work faster and more efficiently than they could have themselves.
Leading UK legal and professional services experts, Knights, told us that teamwork and technology are the two pillars that helped it thrive through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alongside remote working, the business rolled out digital tools that enable lawyers to generate their own reports, rather than going through the traditional route of using a secretary. Documents that were once wet signed are now completed electronically, saving days’ worth of time.
Knights COO, Richard King, told us that the pairing of collaborative teamwork and robust technological systems has been key to the business reaching £100 million in turnover. “The combination of the two enables us to flow work to the right level of expertise, improving the efficiency of the business and ensuring we can offer our clients better value for money.”
Richard also says that investment in digital change is improving the company’s relationships with clients. This is shown through its customer satisfaction, with a Net Promoter Score of 60-plus – a figure that Knights say is way ahead of its rivals.
Knights’ digital transformation is just one example of how technology is providing firms with the necessary freedom to focus on providing high-value-add advice to their clients.
Transforming perceptions, revolutionising legal services
Tradition is deeply embedded in the UK courts and judiciary system. When it comes to implementing digital change, this factor can be a daunting obstacle to overcome.
Personal and business legal services giant, Irwin Mitchell, did not hesitate at the challenge. The firm routinely handles data of a highly sensitive nature – documents that, historically, have been stored on paper or discs.
Before the pandemic even began, the firm was adopting cloud technology and increased digital security around its sensitive information. As courts were forced to turn to this technology to continue to function, Irwin Mitchell was ready to offer its streamlined services.
One court in Manchester used Irwin Mitchell’s IMShare solution to handle paperwork for a particularly large case – allowing them to file all necessary documents as e-bundles at a time when traditional paper evidence was useless to parties working remotely.
The result was a court case that was able to go ahead thanks to file-sharing technology – with a final settlement of over £10 million.
The legal services sector is changing its perception of digital from a temporary solution to a long-term way forward, as courts look to clear the significant backlog of cases created by Covid.
The once-in-a-generation opportunity
Professional services organisations are leading the way when it comes to digital transformation – from securely sharing sensitive data to hybrid ways of working and sophisticated workstream management systems.
The changes made, and lessons learned, over the past year show how digital innovation can set businesses on the path to future growth.
These organisations now face a once in a generation opportunity – one that is worth £16 billion across the sector.
And business leaders must choose to invest in technology to seize this moment – giving their teams the flexibility and rich data that they need to offer their clients the best service possible.
Find out more about the benefits of digital change in our dedicated in-depth sector report, available at Digital Transformation in Professional Services | Virgin Media Business.