The 2015 International Legal Technology Associations (ILTA) Annual Technology Survey is stocked with insightful legal technology industry knowledge.
This is always an exciting time of the year for me as I get to compare and contrast the stories I heard during the year from law firm visits with ILTA’s survey results. One dominant theme that prevails throughout the 2015 survey is change and security.
There is little question that many of the “new” ideas or concepts from just a few years ago have become the status quo, forcing firms to adapt. Sometimes the medium law firm space embraces these new ideas and concepts before Big Law, but more often the reverse is true. So what are some of the interesting trends this year?
Atop the trees and looking down, respondents focused on their Top 3 Technology Annoyances. In order they are:
- Security/Risk Management;
- Change Management and Expectations; and
- Change, User Acceptance of Change.
These three issues struck a chord for me. Many law firm leaders with whom I spoke throughout the past year described these three consistently as top pain points for the technology departments at their firms.
Security: Managing the Mobility
Staying with the security theme, Mobile Device Management (MDM), continues to grow in popularity with nearly 50% of respondents responding that they utilize it. I assume in the coming years this will continue to rise. Secure access points where users connect to the Internet are increasingly seen as important by law firms. To this end, firms are creating policies forbidding users to connect to open WiFi at cafés or airports. As a result, this year Hot Spots or MiFi devices (a type of wireless router that can be used as mobile WiFi hotspot) have leapt in adoption with mobile phone hot spots up 20% on the current survey.
Encryption also made wide gains across the board. While there are many facets to encryption, there were significant gains made over last year in each part of the survey that referenced the subject. Specifically, each of the following jumped by a minimum of 10% over 2014: Laptop Hard Drive Encryption, Automatic Email Encryption, Removable Media Encryption, and Smartphone Encryption.
Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), Advanced Threat Detection, Data Loss Protection, and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) are all on the rise across the various sizes of the organization. I heard about several firms using one interesting tactic this year: Spear-Phishing their own users. According to the survey, this is on the rise and firms are indeed testing their own employees to see how vulnerable they are to targeted messages that could carry computer viruses. The goal is to educate and increase awareness among employees as to cybersecurity threats and how to avoid troubled waters.
Other Interesting Technology Trends
There were several other key takeaways from the survey, including:
- The firm’s top management is viewing IT departments less as an expense, going from 44% last year to 39% of respondents this year.
- Technology spending sees a mixed bag. Among the three categories of spending compared to last year: Stayed the Same, is up 3 points to 47%; Increased in spending is up 2 points to 38%; and Decreased spending is down 4 points to 16%.
- The two primary reasons for firms not moving to the Cloud — 44% said Security, and 38% said Cost.
- Firms that have been through audits by a client in the last three years, 33% said yes and 67% said no.
- SharePoint is trending down slightly in adoption with 48% in 2015, down from 53% in 2011.
- iOS dominates with Android sector, but most surprising is that Windows Mobile dropped off considerably, down 13% from last year.
- Additionally, on the mobile front, support of one platform — i.e. either OS or Android — grew considerably last year up 11%.
- Office 2010 still reigns, at 77% of respondents using the platform, compared to Office 2007 at 12% and 2013 at 8%.
- Desktop Operating Systems are dominated by Windows 7 (64-bit) at 73%, followed by Windows 7 (32-bit) at 23% and far behind is Windows 8/8.1 at 3%.