10 Highlights from CLOC Institute 2017
By Paul Hirner, CEO
We already said we’d be coming back for more after the great experience we had at the first annual CLOC Institute in 2016, and we were as good as our word.
This time around, we had the opportunity to be an enthusiastic sponsor, an energized exhibitor, and even a grateful (and not-quite-quakingly-nervous) onstage participant at the conference. It was quite a litany of highlights for us, but here are the things that have stuck with us the most:
1 • It’s good to be among friends
This might have been the biggest highlight: attending a conference where so many of our peers, colleagues and friends were on hand, all rooting for each other to succeed. It’s a considerably different experience from other conferences where you find yourself flying solo among strangers.
We’re big on networking and making new acquaintances, but there are times when wandering an exhibitor auditorium can be lonely work indeed.
2 • Realizing (again) that it’s scary up there!
Anytime you take the stage at a conference event, there’s a little sweat on your palms, because there’s always the potential for failure. An unforeseen glitch or an act of God could bring you down to earth in a hurry.
But that’s Vegas in a nutshell: a high risk might pay off in high returns. Or to make a poker analogy? You can’t win it all unless you go all-in.
Even when you’re not the one on the stage, it can be stressful During the conference’s opening, Connie Brenton made powerful opening remarks, then Jeff Franke of Yahoo presented our AI Alexa offering along with our own Ben Bogin. That was a bit like watching your child at their first recital: your product, your “baby,” is on display for all to judge. So the jitters just escalate.
So reference #1 above: It was reassuring (albeit also a little nerve-wracking, in its own way) to look out at an audience full of familiar faces.
3 • Learning that Ben Bogin should play the Bellagio’s “big room”
Jerry Seinfeld? Chris Rock? Amateurs. Our own Ben Bogin handled being on stage like the pro he is and, frankly, was amazing at cracking jokes while under enormous pressure, without a drop of flop sweat in sight. Ben, if you ever got tired of this Lead Solutions Engineer gig, maybe stand-up is an option.
On the other hand? Please don’t do that. We’re lucky to have your kind of composure on board.
4 • People really want workflow automation
We got plenty of questions and comments at our booth and while we were walking the aisles of the event – but what really struck home were the levels of intensity and attention we saw from the audience during our onstage presentation.
It’s obvious they were highly engaged and truly interested in what we had to say, not only because we had a killer live demo. Though that didn’t hurt, of course. They had a lot of pointed and insightful questions, and we like to think it’s because they’re eager to find that “silver bullet” solution to workflow issues in their companies, departments and practices.
5 • You can’t replace face-to-face
Events like CLOC Institute, where you’re able to make the relevance of your solution really tangible to people, are irreplaceable. Until then, some of them may not viscerally grasp the extent of the problem you’re trying to help them overcome, or the potential payoffs involved. Others are at a loss for a solution thanks to all the marketing static they’re forced to wade through, so a live experience is invaluable to them.
Webinars and online demos have their place, for sure. But being live on stage and showing how your product delivers exactly as promised, as TAP did during our demo with Keesal, Young & Logan and Elevate, provides an authenticity that’s really distinct.
Building something live really connects with Legal Ops folks, and witnessing real, practical solutions to problems is what CLOC is all about. There’s a focus on actionable knowledge rather than high-level topics that aren’t useful in day-to-day operations.
Plus? When you’ve pulled it off in front of a live audience, the buzz you walk off with is incredible.
6 • Businesses all share the same problems
During our live TAP demo, we worried about how relevant our chosen use case would be to the entire audience. Would we pick a use case that didn’t resonate with everybody, and we’d seem like we were pandering to just a few?
It turns out our use case was relevant to everyone, because the issues involved were universal. That might have been true if we’d picked another example, too, because many in our audience have had to confront the same wide range of workflow challenges over and over again.
7 • Taking your presentation a step (or two) higher pays off!
It might feel like walking a high wire without a net, but going the extra distance to make a presentation more memorable can pay off in spades. Having Alexa’s AI integrated into the opening presentation was more than just a demonstration of what’s in store in the not-so-far future. It was also the kind of grand gesture that really stuck with those 1,000 attendees, who never stopped mentioning it to us during the rest of the conference.
Doing a live TAP demo was a high-risk proposition, and we made sure the audience knew it. And the support, feedback and positive energy we got back from them made it worth it.
8 • Justin Hectus? Brilliant!
Having Justin Hectus of KY&L co-present our demo was better than having that safety net, to tell you the truth. He’s fun to present with, let alone work with, and we knew we had the right guy with us on stage in case anything went wrong.
9 • We left ’em wanting more
It’s a show business adage: Always leave the audience hungry for more.
Before we did our live workshop demo, Brian Hupp of Facebook promised he’d attend with his team and, in a fine Vegas tradition, heckle us mercilessly. All in good fun, of course.
To kick off the workshop, we asked for five audience suggestions for workflows to automate, then picked one that we set to automating over the next 30 minutes. As for Brian? Jake Hills from Elevate did a great job managing the crowd, so we didn’t hear a peep from Brian’s corner, though as the last few minutes wound down we caught him regularly frowning at his watch.
After the demo, Brian walked over to wryly say, “That was disappointing.” It turns out he’d hoped for an even more impressive finish, because he knows firsthand what our platform is capable of: He said we should have shown the audience we’d actually managed to automate all five workflows in that half-hour, not just one.
It’s a great idea. Now, we’ll all have something even bigger to offer our audience next year. We’re already nervous about it.
10 • Mary O’Carroll’s closing comments
One insight in her speech that really resonated with everyone, to judge by the number of times it was mentioned on Twitter?
We have a saying on my team: Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it’s easy. A lot of legal operations is complex, for sure. But a lot of what we do is putting common sense into motion. It is finding a way to do the things that might seem obvious but require massive change.
11 • Special bonus highlight!
Or is it a lowlight? Beyond what we learned at CLOC, we picked up another key insight in Vegas…
Don’t ever expect to win money shooting craps.