Last week, business technology and market research firm InsideLegal put together a graphical chart detailing what various sized law firms spent their tech budgets on in 2013 (available here). The data is coming from ILTA/InsideLegal’s Technology Purchasing Software Survey, a wonderful, free, and highly informative resource both organizations collaborate on and release annually (the latest edition, released in August of 2013, is available here). The data, notably, is organized by the number of responding firms, and not the overarching dollar figures of money spent by the particular firms; it gives insight into how various technological purchasing trends affect different sized firms. The data illustrates many situations where new hardware or software is vigorously embraced by firms of a particular-size but not by other firms of a different size. For example, smaller-sized firms are much more likely to purchase tablet computers. Why would this be?
Firms of 1-24 attys, 25-49 attys, and 50-99 attys responded in a much higher number than larger firms (100-199 attys, 200-399 attys, and 400+ attys) that they had spent a portion of their budget on tablet computers. Does this mean that smaller-and-medium-sized firms are embracing tablet computing more readily than their gigantic brethren? And, more generally, do technological trends start at the smaller-to-midsize firms more often, and once the trend gains traction, then spread to the larger firms? What do these numbers suggest about tablet computers being good devices for conducting legal work, and in particular, legal research? What would the results of total money spent by firm size look like–would it be more equal?
Enterprise search systems were purchased by the larger firms, which is predictable: larger firms will produce a greater breadth of internal firm documentation and would therefore more likely need an enterprise-level search system to organize all of this content. Conversely, smaller firms would have less internal documents and therefore require a less robust system to organize it all; but even at smaller firms I’m sure a system of organization would still be required and employed and am curious about what software is filling this niche–judging by the purchasing trends, is it email archival systems?
Of course, there are various items that are purchased much more equally no matter the firm-size: desktop hardware, laptops/notebooks, antivirus/antispam/spyware software, and printers/multifunctional device. The ubiquity of these items is predictable and intriguing in that it identifies a class of office equipment we all have to deal with on a daily basis.