The case looks first at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a renowned M&A law firm in the US that changed the business model of corporate law firms with a very specific offering and a specific way of being remunerated. It became so successful that it was the top firm for compensation for several years.
The case then looks a IBM and its Watson AI, which famously won the TV quiz Jeopardy! in 2011. IBM built various applications around Watson such as in automotive, customer services, healthcare etc. However, it was criticized for being a black box that other developers could not built upon. The most recent business Watson has entered has been law to disrupt low-value/high-volume work.
The case ends asking how far Watson can go in disrupting professional work and what should Wacthell be thinking about Watson?
This case is part of a mini-case series “Reshaping Industries – Embracing the New Normal Mini Case Series“.
Learning objectives focus on business models and how these can threaten or become threatened quickly with the rise in technology. In this case, Wachtell changed the payment model within M&A law and is focused on certain work only.
We contrast that with IBM Watson which, as an AI, is being applied to more and more industries to remove some lower-level work from humans. The learning objective is to think about threats to business models from digital and whether AI will take more value-adding work from humans.