By Jerry Fastman, Segue Cloud Services
The evolution of cloud technology continues to empower businesses to improve their day-to-day operations. This is true not only in the enterprise space, but in a variety of niche markets — including pre-settlement legal funding, post settlement, medical receivables, etc. — where innovation can significantly improve efficiency and drive down cost.
There is an incredible opportunity for channel partners, developers, and integrators to leverage these new services as a viable means to add value to existing customers, enter new markets, expand their revenue streams, and maintain relevance in a constantly shifting marketplace.
Overlaying New Services To Add Revenues
A good illustration of how the power of the cloud has inextricably changed business processes is the Salesforce ecosystem. As a CRM platform, Salesforce offers its subscribers a compelling feature set that certainly compares favorably to the large, cumbersome, and expensive systems that dominated the marketplace for years.
Salesforce functionality enables customers to manage customer outreach, contacts and communication, run reports, and perform a host of other essential business functions. The fact that Salesforce can be accessed through the internet by anyone, from anywhere, translates into substantial benefits for subscribers such as low usage costs, frequent feature updates, and the ability to easily add on other productivity tools such as the financial tools presently being used.
The ability to add new services and capabilities on top of a pervasive cloud platform, such as Salesforce, represents a significant opportunity to entrepreneurial Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and the organizations they serve. The cloud is a dynamic infrastructure, one that rewards creativity and innovation by providing a fast and efficient path to market.
The economics of the cloud provide the perfect environment for introducing niche market solutions that solve very important — yet specific — problems. Cloud-based solutions do not need scale to be economically viable; they can certainly be equally profitable serving a sub-segment of a vertical market or as a broader offering.
One example of how the power of the cloud is transforming a market segment is occurring right now in the legal funding sector, particularly in the area of pre-settlement funding. For years, firms have provided funds to attorneys to help plaintiffs cover their expenses, with the stipulation that if victorious, the financiers would see a preferred rate of return on their investment. The process in pre-settlement funding can be extremely labor intensive and complex, often covering an extended period of time and comprising a unique combination of accounting, compliance, and communication with multiple parties. Tasks involve the completion of multiple forms; ongoing notifications to the attorneys, paralegals, plaintiffs, and defendants; managing interim payouts to plaintiffs and service providers; keeping funding sources involved in the case apprised of progress; and filing reports and updates on a regular basis.
Improving Workflows For A More Profitable Solution
Until very recently, legal finance providers had no choice but to rely on manual intervention to manage all these workflows. Not only was it expensive, the tedious nature of the work resulted in avoidable mistakes that caused miscommunication, misplaced information, and perhaps diminished returns on investment.
The cloud has changed all this. The fast-to-code, fast-to-deploy nature of cloud technology inspired some entrepreneurial developers to create an application specific to the legal finance sector that could automate many of the workflows that previously hindered efficiency in these businesses.
Instead of entering all pertinent facts of a case into cumbersome manual spreadsheets and then making manual updates, administrators can use intuitive web forms to populate a single customized view that contains all contacts and relevant information and can be securely accessed by all the parties involved — with a robust set of permissions to prevent inappropriate disclosures. As changes in status occur, such as the case dispensation, funding updates, or other information, the system automatically notifies the appropriate entities. It also can integrate with document management systems to generate letters and reports — all with minimal human intervention.
This type of solution is a perfect illustration of how the cloud can really increase profitability, expand margins, and create more stickiness with customers. It addresses an obvious need among customers, and can easily overlay the customer’s existing CRM infrastructure. Partners do not need enterprisewide applications to be profitable. There’s tremendous opportunity serving more niche markets, which are underserved, and eagerly seeking solutions that overcome real world challenges.
About The Author
Jerry Fastman is CEO of Segue Cloud Services.