In last December’s post announcing the 2014 ILTA Technology survey (ILTA Tech Survey), we described it as an early holiday gift to the legal community and we feel the same way this year. The data is rich and deep, plus the 269 page report arrives on Cyber Monday, a week or so ahead of last year’s findings. The 2015 ILTA Tech Survey is complimentary to ILTA Members and Sponsors and non-members can purchase the digital file for $500.
In ILTA's 2015 Tech Survey executive summary, survey volunteer lead and Sedgwick CIO Todd Corham highlights the importance of survey questions and analysis that are “less about specific technologies and more about challenges, governance and forecasting.” He goes on to say that these types of questions “deliver the best insights into what legal IT professionals are thinking.” In other words, what keeps law firm CIOs up at night?
We wholeheartedly agree with Todd’s assessment about the vitality of legal technology trends and peer ‘mind share’ questions as part of such a survey. In fact, for the last decade we have co-produced the ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey, the annual look at ILTA members' technology purchasing and budgeting that serves as a compliment to the annual ILTA Tech Survey by delivering additional insights into technology trends, technology purchasing behavior, and ‘top of mind’ legal IT issues. These go beyond percentage points and survey metrics and really touch on the core topics and concerns today’s legal IT professionals are grappling with. To help ‘visualize’ this synergy, we have added notes to certain ILTA Tech Survey findings that are also addressed in the ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey to shed a different or enhanced light on specific topics… Enjoy!
Let’s talk numbers. The 2015 ILTA Tech Survey reports the input of 420 firms representing more than 88,000 attorneys and 185,000 total users. ILTA law firm members with less than 150 attorneys make up 66% (177 firms) of total responses. The survey report includes 142 questions portioned into 13 separate focus areas from ‘Annoyances and Trends’ to ‘Technology Spending’ to ‘Vendors’. The report includes all responses as well as correlated data (hence the survey length) broken out into segments by firm size.
Ever since the 2008 economic crash, we have been looking to re-define the current state of the legal market, and as a profession, have coined ‘the new normal’ as this evolution. Frivolous spending is out; gargantuan budgets are cut; less staff are supporting more legal professionals; clients are more demanding and in control of the client-outside counsel relationship; and firms are being pushed and themselves pushing to get the most out of technology … the applications and solutions they already own as well new acquisitions.
As noted in the ILTA Tech Survey, change is the only constant of the new normal, as underscored by the shift in strategic and tactical technology priorities to what oft appears to be a singular focus on security.
As to be expected, security is the prevalent theme for the ILTA Tech Survey and this recap. The ‘Business Continuity and Security’ section of the survey includes 12 specific law firm security questions (ranging from encryption to security awareness training and assessments) as well as others that touch on protecting the firm and its clients from disasters and outside evil doers. Overall, we counted 33 survey questions (23% of entire survey) pertaining to firm security-related topics including privacy/monitoring technologies (e.g., metadata tools, ethical wall tech, website access filters); email (e.g., email policies, email storage, email anti-virus/spam filters and encryption); mobility and remote access. Here’s what stood out:
- Encryption on laptop hard drives (+10%), in email (+12%), on removable media (+8%), and on smartphones (+13%) is in high demand as an integral component of data security.
- Mobile Device Management (MDM) is now mainstream… There was an 8 point gain this year in MDM deployments with 52% of respondents using this technology.
- The three biggest law firm security challenges cited in the ILTA Tech Survey include ‘balancing security with usability’ (31%), ‘user acceptance and behavior’ (24%), and a tie for ‘user education and awareness’ (22%) and ‘firm culture’ (22%). We also observed that ‘client security requirements’ (14%), ‘BYOD/mobile devices’ (12%) and especially ‘cloud apps/data security’ (4%) actually ranked much lower compared to recent related hype and media coverage.
- Security awareness training programs continue to gain momentum with 49% now having them in place, including 86% of law firms with more than 350 attorneys. 79% of these programs are developed internally (compared to 86% in 2014) with the trend toward more outsourcing in this area.
- Other security measures firms are doubling down on include ethical walls, which averaged 88% usage among firms with 350+ attorneys, intrusion prevention systems (54%, up 14% from 2014) and intrusion detection systems (52%, up 6% from 2014).
Here are notable ILTA Tech Survey highlights (beyond security) based on major adoption shifts and differences to 2014 survey data:
- 31% (up from 18% in 2014) use Windows 2012 Server as their firm’s primary server OS while 68% (down from 80%) are still running Windows 2008.
- 73% indicated Windows 7 (64-bit) is their primary desktop OS.
- 27% are evaluating and/or testing the Microsoft Surface Pro at the firm/in the IT department.
- 81% of respondents manage ethical walls (with third party software or as part of an existing DMS or other solution) compared to 65% last year.
- In terms of technology training, 32% use a learning management system (LMS), up 4%; 42% offer e-learning; and 50% provide remote training for firm users.
- 42% use third party systems to help automate business workflow processes (e.g., new business intake, new hires). This is down 8% from 2014.
- 41% use a mobile time entry/recording solution.
- 25% indicate using a ‘passive, automated’ time capture tool for billable activity.
- 51% use business intelligence (BI)/financial analysis software compared to 53% in 2014.
- 77% of respondents have not implemented any specific knowledge management (KM) systems. The 11% that are using a commercial KM system cited SharePoint, enterprise search and legal research-specific solutions.
- 42% said mailbox size is the biggest email support challenge; only 29% have a stated email destruction policy for mail left in the inbox; and 69% filter outgoing email messages for inappropriate content, viruses, spam, etc.
- 52% of firms have ‘BYOD’ smartphone policies in place, up 5% from 2014.
- 46% use enterprise social networking tools (e.g., IM, chat) for internal or client communications.
- 52% indicated using SharePoint, primarily as an intranet (40%), collaboration tool (18%), as an extranet (12%) and for custom apps (16%) and workflows (12%).
- 51% are using third-party technologies to enhance firm SharePoint solutions (up 3% from 2014).
In terms of KM system responses, the low KM technology adoption rate does not surprise us since there is no one technology or solution that addresses firm KM. KM in law firms is rapidly evolving and becoming much more of a strategic ‘way we do business’ and ‘how we differentiate’ as opposed to a technology platform. From a knowledge aggregation, retrieval and information use/sharing standpoint, SharePoint and third party tools are gaining noticeable favor. Also, in looking at the numbers and based on conversations with vendors and ILTA members, the enhanced enterprise search functionality included in SharePoint 2013 is providing firms with a much needed Search boost, (re)opening the door for SharePoint as a collaboration and now search technology option in legal.
The ILTA Tech Survey indicates that budget numbers show signs of improvement, possibly due to the recognition that security programs need a boost. To that end, Todd Corham cites the recent Citibank survey which indicates that at large law firms, up to 1.9% of gross annual revenues are being spent on security. The 2015 ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing survey results provide additional budget drill downs and tell us that 57% of all ILTA member firms responding to the survey spend 2-4% of total firm revenue on technology. While firms with 200+ attorneys are increasingly spending more of revenue on technology – the biggest change was within the 5-6% range, up 18% from last year. Again, according to the 2015 ILTA/InsideLegal Survey, 44% indicated that budgets remained the same, the highest percentage since the inception of this survey in 2006. The ILTA/InsideLegal survey results show 47% of firm budgets stayed the same. This is in alignment with 2015 ILTA Tech Survey responses.
Lastly we quote a section from the ILTA Tech Survey executive summary… “The view by Management of IT ‘as an expense’ was down by 5 points this year, although almost that entire amount moved to ‘Revenue neutral.’ The response that IT ‘contributes to revenue growth’ was up only 2 points, but we'll take this as a small step in the right direction. As IT departments work to meet client demands on security, there may be some increased understanding that we are here to make our firms competitive, bolster revenue growth and keep clients assured that we deserve their business.”
There are many ways to measure value, focusing on financials and related metrics is just one of them. This should be kept in mind with the ‘how does firm’s top management primarily view the IT Department.’ As to be expected, there’s a positive correlation between firm size and management’s view of the IT function; the larger the firm, the more prevalent the perception of IT as strategic and revenue-focused.
The aforementioned value reminder should also be heeded as it relates to the metrics, statistics and findings included in the 2015 ILTA Tech Survey. Data is informative and can be valuable but putting too much emphasis on such survey data and considering it gospel is equally dangerous. Skip Lohmeyer, CIO at Parker Poe, and our co-presenter on our ILTACON session on how to best leverage our annual ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey, said it best when explaining his use of the data. “The survey provides good information, but is one of many tools and data points I use as part of our budgeting and technology spending evaluation process. Some of the data is very useful, so I merge that with data from other sources to paint a comprehensive picture.”
The complete 2015 ILTA Technology Survey is available on ILTA's site. Current ILTA Members can access the 2015 ILTA Technology Survey in the Community site (login required) and Non-Members may purchase a copy from their online store ($500 for a digital copy).