ILTA, the International Legal Technology Association, in partnership with InsideLegal, sent a survey regarding technology purchases to 1,282 ILTA member law firms where around 180 firms responded.
Recently we took another look at the 2015 ILTA Technology Purchasing Survey and we asked ourselves, “What do we feel is most important for us to know?” To be completely honest, almost everything. Instead of trying to break down each and every survey question and answer, we want to pull the 3 most interesting themes and explain why they are important to us.
IT department challenges
According to the survey, most law firms stated that their IT department’s biggest challenges were security management (59% of all respondents), email management (48% of all respondents), information governance (40% of all respondents), and compliance (33% of all respondents.) For the first time in 8 years, email management was not named the biggest challenge that legal IT departments face. These challenges make quite a bit of sense since we have seen the trend, in the past couple years, to a transition to cloud technology. In a recent Legaltech News article written by D. Casey Flaherty called E-Discovery Disruption and the Field of Challengers, a majority of legal firm respondents, 51%, said they had adopted cloud technology. According to the ILTA survey, 33% of all who responded said they had purchased cloud storage in the last 12 months and 16% planned on purchasing in the next year. In the 2014 survey, purchasing of cloud storage was a new question and the results were nearly the same at 35% who had purchased in the last 12 months and 17% who planned to purchase in the next 12 months. In 2013, 70% of survey respondents had added cloud to their roadmap or were already using or implementing some sort of cloud solution. That large number in 2013, could explain the slight decrease between 2015 and 2014 since most companies have already started implementing cloud into the mix. Most of the time when a firm is investing in cloud technology, they struggle with security management for many reasons. One of the most prominent reasons is a lack of training on how to use these new systems appropriately. Time and time again we see the same security, or information governance, issues arise when IT departments haven’t invested time and training into cloud technology. Other challenges these firms mentioned were cloud security risks, mobility, and integration of third-party apps or services.
To cloud or not to cloud?
In relation to cloud computing, 63% of respondents named security concerns as the number one reason to avoid cloud computing/cloud-based technologies. In comparison, 29% of respondents named security as a compelling reason to embrace cloud computing/cloud-based technologies. We can see the reasons for and against cloud computing overlap, and this is probably based on the different perceptions people have about the cloud. Is it safe? Is it insecure? As long as you know how to use the cloud, how it supports your information governance plans, and which cloud system is the best fit for the goals you want to accomplish, you can use it with minimal to no security. These questions can also be very easily answered through some research or through some reading of ILTA’s Peer to Peer Magazine, which 83% of respondents claimed to read. The survey also found that last year 13% purchased Microsoft Office 365 and 11% plan on purchasing in the next year. We have seen this trend ourselves within our customer base. Just this year alone we have seen an increase in our customers using Office 365 and we fully expect that trend to continue, especially amongst those that use other Microsoft applications like SharePoint. While firms are worried about the security of the cloud, they are also expressing excitement for cloud services such as cloud collaboration, cloud-based Office, and cloud content management systems like NetDocuments.
IT purchasing influencers
Another metric from the survey that we found interesting was that 65% of all respondents named internet research as their top influencer to make IT purchasing decisions last year. That number was followed by 60% peer recommendations and 57% ILTA conferences. It is as if firms are now seeking out technology, rather than technology going to them. There were definitely some differences between the small and large firms and how their IT purchases are influenced, but internet research was common among all firm sizes. To get a better understanding of what sort of internal demand there was for technology purchases, the survey asked who frequently requests technology purchases outside of IT. Surprisingly, or not so surprisingly, 80% of requests come from the attorneys in the firm. Administration, 46%, and litigation department/practice support, 33%, follow behind. In larger firms, there was a much smaller percentage of requests coming from lawyers than for firms of medium and small sizes. Larger firms also seemed to get more requests from their marketing and finance departments. The survey also asked about technology budgets in a separate section, and the results were rather noteworthy. The highest percentage of respondents since 2006 indicated that their budgets remained the same as last year. The majority of responses of those whose budgets remained the same came from small and medium-sized firms. This could very well show that because attorneys are requesting the technology, the cost gets offset to a budget other than the IT budget or employees are implementing the technology themselves. Only 15% of firms had budgets decrease, and 41% had an increase in their budget. Of those who had increasing budgets, large firms had a 10% increase from last year to 51% of large firms in that category. Another noteworthy metric regarding influencers is that 92% of respondents said they use outside consultants for technology. This number is up 2% from 2014 and 11% from 2013.
A couple things we learned from the 2015 ILTA Technology Purchasing Survey are that firms are excited and transitioning to cloud-based services, but they are still struggling with the challenges and fears mentioned above. We also learned that internet searches are a key component of technology purchasing decisions to firms and most firms use outside technology consultants. What we can really take away from all of this is that SeeUnity can be the answer to many of these firms’ concerns. Our powerful platform of solutions can address these matters, and move firms forward toward their ideal information governance and technology ecosystem goals. As we read through the survey, we caught ourselves naming off all the ways we can provide solutions for these firms. If ILTACON is truly an influencer to firms’ technology purchasing decisions, come find us at booth #118 August 28th-September 1st.