iManage, Inc., a provider of collaborative content management software for enterprises, has released the results of a CIO survey conducted in conjunction with the Legal IT Leadership Summit hosted by the company earlier this year. The survey report reflects the IT priorities of top law firms as they plan for the coming year.
Four key areas were selected for exploration: Managing in today's environment: How are firms dealing with mergers, and running day-to-day operations and strategic initiatives in a challenging economic climate? Business continuity: A cohesive business continuity strategy is key to maintaining operational stability in turbulent times. What strategies are firms applying to meet this challenge? Matter lifecycle management: Recent regulatory changes and legal actions have forced law firms and their clients to take a deep look at information retention issues. What are the best ways to manage matter information from inception to closing and beyond? Matter centric collaboration: Mater-centric has long been a legal industry buzzword. Are current advances in document management, matter management, email management and other technologies now making it practical for the fee earner?
Summit participants were surveyed about their experiences and priorities relating to each session topic. Findings include: IT spending is holding steady: 44% of firms reported no change in their 2003 IT budget from previous years, with increases and decreases evenly split at 28% each. This may change moving forward, however--although 47% project no change in spending for 2004, a full 40% anticipate slight increases averaging 5%. Clients are demanding greater transparency: More than half of the responding CIOs indicated that their clients are demanding greater access to information about their matters. This has led to the widespread deployment of extranets, which are now in use at 94% of the participating firms to provide direct client access to information about ongoing matters. Collaboration and content management are being leveraged to meet business needs: Participants reported a broad spectrum of business-related IT priorities for the coming year. Roughly half of respondents felt that most of these priorities would be directly addressed by collaboration and content management. Business continuity is a top priority: Of the CIOs surveyed, 65% already have an IT disaster recovery plan in place. Of the remaining firms, 67% plan to prepare a recovery plan within the next six months. However, of those with a plan in place, only 26% have ever tested it in a drill. Matter centric collaboration (MCC) is gaining speed: MCC appears to be on the verge of widespread adoption; although only 8% of CIOs reported MCC implementation to be underway or already completed, more than 75% are planning to move to an MCC system within the next 18 months. More than 81% expect matter centric collaboration to provide substantial help in enabling matters to be worked on across offices, and more than 70% anticipate an improvement in client service.