Contributor Spotlight: ICDR


Ryan Boyle, Vice President of Statistics and Analytical Research at the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (Left) and Richard Naimark, Senior Vice President of the American Arbitration Association (Right) recently sat down with DRD's Website Editor Lauren Moore to discuss ICDR's decision to join DRD as a data contributor.

Tell me a little bit about your institution.

RN: International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) just had its 20th anniversary--we started in 1996. We are the International Division of the American Arbitration Association, and we are one of the largest institutions in terms of case volume in the world. The organization has an educational mission as well, and we promote the continued use of ADR through an ongoing dialogue with government practitioners and companies to show the value of ADR processes. That's why we're very supportive of DRD, which is trying to get information out about the process. 

Tell me about ICDR’s scope.

RN: We're global, and we have cases throughout the world--Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. We don't focus on one area in particular; we are a global provider. We've had partnerships with Bahrain, we still do, and we're working now with Saudi Arabia to expand arbitration there. So there isn't any part of the world where we won't go to promote the process. 

In terms of case type, we have a large commercial base, all sorts of industries: energy, financial services, healthcare, telecom, technology, intellectual property and patent, trademark, etc. We do large international construction cases, as well as executive employment agreements and things of that nature. Any place where there's a significant industry, like energy, we have some specialization.

Ryan, what is your role with ICDR?

RB: I am the Vice President of Statistics and Analytical Research. My specialization is to provide information about our organization and our caseload to our company. First, so our organization knows how we're doing, the number of cases and where cases are coming from, and how long cases take. Basically, I do internally everything that DRD does in terms of data visualization--I provide pictures about how we're doing. Second, it's helpful with spreading our message to the external world. I work with our marketing department to help promote our services after we figure out how we're doing. 

Do you have any specific examples of how and when data--or data visualization--has been useful for your institution?

RB: Data is very important. We've doubled down in our organization on analytics, and we're really seeing at all levels of the organization that figures help you understand what is happening much more easily. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and it's true. When you have so much data, it's sometimes difficult to see--you need someone to tell you what it all means. Once you can put a picture up, it can be dramatic. For example: I did a presentation recently on time and cost. Everybody asks, “What’s the average time?” when they want to know how long something takes. That’s fine--but the reality is that none of us want to be average. We want to be the best. Why do we keep asking about an average? Don't we want to know what the best are doing? So, I created a presentation called "Getting an A" and used the analogy of an A student. I compared the median time for a case to resolve to the top 10%. The difference was dramatic. It was like, "Whoa! Somebody's getting it done much quicker!" It jumps off the page at you in time and cost. It takes a lot of words to get the point across, but once you show the chart with the difference between the two, it drives the point home.

You’re able to show this with your internal data. Do you have any specific goals for how you will use the aggregated data you can pull from DRD?

RB: I want to get a better understanding of our caseload. We're always trying to understand what makes up our caseload, what our opportunities or threats are. I think DRD is so valuable, and I really appreciate how they are able to visualize the information. It's cutting edge technology, and their visualizations are very compelling. We'll take advantage of DRD because you can get data many places, but this is a picture. I'm really looking forward to seeing not just our data, but the aggregated data. With DRD, we'll have an understanding of the bigger picture of international ADR. That will help us understand where we can serve better. Maybe there are trends we need to pick up on to promote ADR better than we are doing today.

Can you talk a little bit about how you became aware of DRD, and the process of deciding to become a data contributor? 

RB: As an organization, we are committed to data, and we have an educational mission. We take it very seriously to help promote ADR. Not just our own services, but ADR in general. There's such a vacuum of data about ADR, so we were interested in an initiative that would fill that gap. We immediately thought it was a really great idea; once we were sure about the security of our data, and the confidentiality of our information, it was a very easy "yes" for us. It is really a win-win situation. We are contributing information about ADR that will help grow ADR, and will grow the whole pie...and then, we are getting paid for contributing the data! Most initiatives ask you to supply something and it's going to cost you money. Here, we're getting paid to give something back. That's the beauty of this model--the data contributor is both giving and receiving. That's very unique, and makes participation very compelling from a business standpoint. From a data contributor standpoint, it's a very easy yes. 

If an institution was hesitant about becoming a contributor, is there anything that you would want them to know, having gone through this process yourself?

RB: There's really no loss here. It's all gain. And there's no risk--you're not giving anything, from a confidentiality standpoint. And you get information. Being a contributor, you get to see your own data--many institutions don't have a vibrant internal database. So you get that view, and then you also get the aggregated view, which is market intelligence. From a strategic standpoint, that opens up really excellent opportunities. And then you are going to get paid for your time! Being a data contributor...I really can't imagine a valid reason for not wanting to sign on. It really is a good thing all around.