Previewing Interact 2019: Jason Parkman on Serving the User Community
Jason Parkman has been deeply involved with the growth of Legal Ops and the Mitratech client community in his seven years as CEO.
We sat down with him to ask how the Interact conference has figured in the growth of Legal Ops, and what it delivers for the Mitratech client community.
First of all, how do you think a conference like Interact figures in the bigger scheme of things in Legal Operations?
Jason: Last year, I actually wrote a blog post about the “power of connection” that takes hold at an event like CLOC Institute, because the entire evolution of Legal Ops is based on establishing connections. Within an organization, you’re connecting people through better, smarter, more effective Legal Ops processes and tools; at CLOC Institute, you see members of the Legal Ops community making new connections, sharing ideas, and contributing to this energy and commitment that’s really driven Legal Ops forward.
An event like Interact, even though it’s for our own user community, shares that same spirit. I’ve seen how clients and users attending Interact absolutely don’t put up walls or jealously guard their own ideas, but reach out and share what they’ve learned with others, even if they’re not presenting, or standing at a podium, or leading a session.
Especially if they’re not, I ought to say. There’s really a grass-roots, common impulse among our client community to launch into free-wheeling discussions and put new ideas out there for others to explore.
Would Mitratech be as successful as it’s been without Interact?
Jason: I think it’s less about the specific event – though Interact is obviously a red-letter date for a lot of our clients, and very symbolic of that idea of community. It’s more about how Interact is part of a larger commitment to collaboration and co-innovation, and how dedicated we have to be to empowering it for our client community in every way possible. Our focus on fostering that kind of communication on every level is a big part of why clients like working with us, they tell us.
How do you sustain that, then?
Jason: Well, you’ve got to provide a user community with the right forums for speaking and sharing and learning. That’s true in any SaaS vertical where you’re hoping to develop product roadmaps that are built around the needs of your actual, real-world users, versus just coming up with features or updates that you happen to think are pretty cool, and then trying to force them on users.
This kind of collaboration with clients seems like a pretty obvious approach if you’re going to use the words “superior user experience” as part of any product description, but I’m always surprised by how many of our competitors seem to miss the point: When your users talk, you listen, and you design accordingly to give them what they truly need.
The first thing we’re obligated to do, then, is create these opportunities for clients to speak up. Ergo, we hold a conference like Interact, where they can get face-to-face with the team behind the products. Or even up in their face if there’s an issue they want addressed. There’s no substitute for putting people in the same room and giving them a chance to speak their minds and share their own experiences.
How do you continue that beyond Interact or other live events, though?
We’ve got to give them other venues for interaction if we’re going to really stay 100% client-focused. It’s why we include clients in our product development working groups, why our Client Success personnel are taught to listen hard to what their clients are saying and work with them side-by-side to confront challenges. And, also, it’s why we’ve launched a resource like the TAP Co-Innovation Center for clients to share new ways to use a product, or improve what they’re already doing by hearing what others have to offer in terms of building on existing workflows to create new best practices.
That’s really incredibly exciting, because if there’s one thing I and the rest of my team have learned, it’s how far out in front of us some clients can be when it comes to innovating how to use TAP, or TeamConnect, or any other product. They wind up being the ones who teach us. And you’ll always see a lot of that going on at Interact.
So, to sum up, what would you tell a client about why they ought to attend Interact?
Because they’ll be able to immerse themselves in being part of the best, most innovative client and user community in all of legal tech, and join a constant, broad-ranging dialogue that’s going on in the sessions, during the breaks, in the hallways, and even after the conference.
Also, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to be good hosts here in Austin and show folks a good time. This year we’re going to show off why it’s the “Live Music Capital of the World,” and I can promise you, no one is going to leave disappointed by the good times we’ll have on hand.