The Record - Issue 14: Autumn 2019

48 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om I NT E R V I EW What are the biggest challenges of traditional paper-based contract management? What proportion of firms operate in this way? Research shows that the adoption of contract life- cycle management (CLM) software is strongest in heavily regulated industries such as pharmaceuti- cals and biotechnology, as well as industries with complex supply chains like manufacturing. These numbers speak to the real issues with traditional paper-based contract management. In industries like pharma and manufacturing, a manual approach to contracting is a major liabil- ity, as it does not give centralised control over or visibility into what agreements are being entered into globally. If you are a global carmaker, for example, you need to know who you’re contract- ing with for thousands of parts, yet paper-based contracting means all that information is stashed away in a filing cabinet or on a computer desk- top. Pharma companies, meanwhile, operate as a strictly regulated industry, and maverick con- tracting doesn’t only risk revenue leakage but massive regulatory fines. So that’s the current state. Yet even industries that have been slower to adopt CLM software are quickly catching up: Gartner estimates that by 2023, 90% of multinational corporations will have a CLM solution in place, regardless of what industry they are in. How can the cloud help to turn contracts from static documents to strategic assets? Consider the fact that every dollar in and out of an enterprise is represented in a contract; contracts and the underlying data locked within them form the foundationof commerce. Cloud-based contract management allows companies to unify contract management across departments and geographies, improving visibility and eliminating silos. When all contracts live in a central, digital location, compa- nies enjoy a single source of truth for all contractual commitments and obligations. Contract data can then be extracted for never-before-available insights into risk and opportunity. And in cloud environments, open application programming interfaces mean that data in one platform can easily push and pull into other systems. So not only do users have deep visibil- ity into contract data, but that contract data can actually be projected into enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and supply chain management systems as well. So, for example, a salesperson can be inMicrosoft Dynamics 365 and spin up a new sales contract that is 100% compliant with all internal controls without ever leaving that interface. This was simply impossible when contracts were pieces of paper filed away in a cabinet or kept in a lawyer’s inbox. What are the benefits of the Microsoft cloud in particular? Contracts contain some of themost commercially sensitive information in an enterprise and our customers need to trust that their contract data is handled and stored according to the most strin- gent security standards. Security is a key focus of Microsoft, which invests more than US$1 billion in security research and development and has a team of over 3,500 cyber security experts that work together to help safeguard customer data in the Microsoft Azure cloud. The cloud can help turn contracts from static documents to strategic assets, says Bernadette Bulacan, legal evangelist at Icertis Contracts in the cloud “AI will make contract negotiations 30% more efficient by 2023” BY L I ND S AY J AME S