6point6 is a technology consultancy that cut its teeth delivering very large technology-led transformations for central government. It has now turned its attention to the professional services industry. Spiranti met CEO and founder David Webb to find out why.
6point6 is not a typical technology consulting firm. It has been at the heart of some of the largest technology projects in central government. Its roots are in open-source technology, focusing on strategy, architecture and engineering. Right from the outset, security is at the core of their solutions. In a week where Marriott discovered that as many as 500 million guests were exposed in a data breach it is perhaps easy to understand why.
“Cyber security is one of the three pillars that underpin technology driven transformation,” says David Webb, CEO and founder of 6point6. “That is the same whether you are a government department, listed company or a legal or financial firm. The two further pillars are digital and emerging technology services. All three are inextricably linked, but security is a critical foundational component for delivering technology driven transformation.”
David and his 140-strong team continue to be deeply involved in advising government but have a growing reputation in industry sectors where technology is driving transformational change and where innovation is needed to compete.
“The legal sector is particularly interesting,” says David. “It is people-centric where technology, despite what the popular media might say, is unlikely to replace lawyers, but enable them to focus on high value and more interesting roles. The rate of innovation in the sector is rapid. It isn’t something firms are looking to do in three to five years’ time, it is here and now.
“But it’s not about delivering technology for an immediate outcome. It is a journey that is driven by client demand.”
Professional services do, 6point6 believes, need considerable education in understanding the processes and managing the risks in delivering truly transformational change. Cyber risk is often the number one concern, yet often not fully understood and becomes a barrier to moving forward.
The cost of investment is one factor that holds legal businesses back, particularly mid-tier and smaller firms.
“Costs are coming down,” says David, “and firms need to remember that it is often small incremental steps that can make a big impact. Firms can build the ecosystem they need as and when they need it. They don’t need to do everything at once”
The 6point6 approach to transforming businesses is to understand the business and client needs and what is needed from current technology platforms. “There is no ‘big bang’,” says David, “just steps that add significant value to clients and processes. Otherwise, there is the risk that any investment will largely be without any real benefit, and then further investment is often dismissed or postponed.”
To help law firms better understand the changing technology landscape and their own business needs, 6point6 has created a set of immersion workshops, where business leaders and its own emerging technology, cyber and digital consultants spend two or three days exploring the business need and how it can be met. These workshops take place outside of the office and in an ‘safe environment’ that encourages collaboration.
“It is that collaboration which helps business leaders really understand new and emerging technology and how it may change their business,” explains David.
“AI is a really good example and is at the moment on everyone’s lips. Our immersion workshops would include a collaboration of hard AI engineers, consultants and a law firm’s chief innovation officer and other senior management. The safe collaboration space would allow free discussion of ideas, to define hypotheses and where AI might be able to help. We typically allow a couple of days and it does result in design-led thinking.”
Firms that are slow to innovate are likely to find themselves increasingly left behind or with individual partners or teams adopting their own ‘shadow’ technology platforms – something that is particularly prevalent as a more tech-savvy younger generation take ever more senior roles in the workplace.
“This is something we see all of the time, even in the largest and what many would believe to be the most agile technology companies,” says David. “Individuals and teams will adopt and use technology that helps them do their job better and more effectively, irrespective of whether that technology is adopted across the firm. And that can create cyber security risks.”
Of course, introducing new technology without considering the culture of the firm can also add further complications. But here too technology and the rise in law firms of the chief innovation officer can help.
“Firms need not be afraid of failure”, says David, “and they do need to learn to fail fast. The CIO is a positive step for law firms.”
And when it comes to introducing new technology to drive cultural change in organisations? “My advice is to start small and simple. Two technology tools to consider are Slack and Trello,” says David.
For more information visit 6point6.co.uk.