New survey shows 74% of UK law firms planning to invest in new technology over next two years
A new survey of UK law firms by managed IT services provider Redcentric tells a story of a sector on the brink of operational change with a surprising 74% planning to invest in new technologies to help address business challenges over the next two years. Underlining the urgency, almost half of these (36%) will make this investment before the end of 2016.
The findings support the view that law firms are under increasing pressure to adopt new market realities and this involves re-evaluating IT strategy to gain competitive advantage. When asked about their main business challenges, 35% of legal sector respondents put “the need to improve client experience” at the top of the list. This was closely followed by the need to cut costs (31%).
Nonetheless, the survey catches the legal sector in a positive mood. Some 48% of those polled anticipate business growth over the next year. However 42% say that, at the moment, this growth is hampered by their legacy IT infrastructure – and 36% say that their existing systems are neither agile nor scalable enough to support their future expansion. Not surprisingly 34% cite the need for improved agility as a main driver of this investment.
“These results throw up a big question. How can law firms balance the need for new technology with the general economic pressures they currently face? In most typical businesses, 70% of IT budget goes on day-to-day maintenance, so there is little spare for a more strategic investment to transform their business for the better,” says Mark Halpin, New Business Sales Director, Redcentric.
“But increasingly law firms have discovered that working with a managed services provider to ensure everyday management can free their IT team to help move the business forward. When they do need new solutions the same provider can help tailor best of breed solutions, and do so urgently, without the lead times involved when implementing new technology in-house.”
The survey shows that the need to enhance security is also a major issue for the sector, with 35% putting it at the top of their list of business challenges, surpassing the need to reduce IT running costs (22%). Inevitably, this enthusiasm for modernising systems is tempered with caution; 49% of respondents say they are “extremely concerned” about the perceived risks of migrating to the cloud and only 17% of firms are already using scalable Cloud systems.
The survey also showed that the profession is already equipped for remote working with 77% of those polled saying their company supports them working and communicating on the move. Desktop sharing is the most important feature here for 42%, with video conferencing coming close behind at 39%.
“And yet, reading between the lines of the survey results, there are still many within the profession that don’t recognise how powerfully IT can transform their business,” continues Halpin. “A substantial 28% of those polled believe their organisation ‘isn’t facing IT challenges’ and only 26% say they are ‘preparing to cope with growth’. Although we are delighted that so many plan to invest during the next few years, it’s clear that there are still those who are missing out on the vision – at their cost.”