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(pressebox) Stamford, Conn., 02.05.2012 - Chief legal officers (CLOs) consider their enterprises' CIOs to be important contributors to corporate strategy and policy, but they need more in-depth interaction with their IT department, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc. and ALM.
In October of 2011, Gartner and ALM surveyed 70 CLOs, deputy CLOs, general counsels, and division general counsels. The survey was designed to increase the understanding of how CLOs use technology in the organisation, the relationship between the CLO and CIO, and the types of projects CLOs engage in with CIOs.
"The survey results showed that communication is the key variable in the success or lack of success of the CLO/IT relationship," said French Caldwell, vice president and Gartner Fellow. "When CLOs have substantive conversations with CIOs more than once a month, CLO satisfaction with IT is higher. Among CLOs who communicated with their enterprises' CIOs more than once a month, 76 per cent reported having changed their legal strategies and 82 per cent their corporate policies after conferring with CIOs."
By contrast, among CLOs who communicated with CIOs less than once a month, just 44 per cent changed their legal strategies and 56 per cent their corporate policies after conferring with CIOs. Analysts said this indicates that CLOs who communicate frequently are having more in-depth conversations with their CIO counterparts, enabling the identification of underlying legal/IT issues, and the development of better solutions.
"It is clear that maintaining a high level of communication between the CLO and CIO is a main ingredient of the legal department's IT investment, and its satisfaction with the services IT provides," said Debra Logan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "The fact that 51 per cent of the CLOs surveyed reported that they have conversations with CIOs once a month at most indicates a lack of communication between the two roles in a significant portion of the population. This is a serious problem because increased CLO/CIO communication helps clarify the legal department's IT needs, provides the IT department with better guidance for legal support and keeps CLOs informed of IT capabilities."
With an improved understanding of the CLOs' business needs, CIOs are able to provide thorough and effective solutions for CLOs, which can increase overall IT satisfaction and enable better-informed decision making. For example, the CLOs in the survey indicated that their enterprise IT departments currently handle routine IT applications such as email and remote support satisfactorily, but they were not as satisfied with the IT departments' implementation and support of high-business-value, legal-specific technologies such as e-discovery and litigation support. Gartner views this as a significant finding, because the CIO role is evolving and must continue to evolve to support other C-level executives in initiatives that may not be readily identifiable as a direct IT responsibility.
"Complicating improvements in satisfaction with legal-specific technologies is a lack of formally organized IT support for the legal department," Mr Caldwell said. "When asked in what way the IT department most frequently supports the legal department's ongoing IT needs, most CLOs responded that it is done in an ad hoc fashion. Few organizations, it seems, have dedicated legal IT support teams and as legal technologies become more complex, this lack of support will be problematic, and should therefore be a priority for CIOs."
The quantity of electronic data businesses generate every day forces IT departments, and by extension the CIO, into a prominent information governance role. Protecting critical information is a very important business concern, especially for legal departments, and the survey results reinforce this view. The top three CLO technology investments cited in the survey - email encryption, privacy management and database encryption - show a strong focus on data protection. For this reason, IT must adapt to satisfy increasing legal department demands for data storage, protection and archiving capabilities.
E-discovery requirements continue to be a driving force in the need of CLOs for effective IT solutions to manage, identify, preserve and collect electronically stored information. E-discovery software, enterprise information archiving and master data management are important investments to support preparedness for and responses to e-discovery.
"As everyday activities become increasingly digitised and performed online, legal departments see a growing need for sophisticated tools and support to assist in data/document identification and collection for legal, regulatory and risk management purposes," Ms Logan said. "Besides the technology investments, a priority is being placed on risk management and compliance consulting. This finding indicates that CLOs have concerns over the effectiveness of risk management and compliance programmes, and it reinforces the importance of legal and regulatory information governance programmes."
"The 2011 Gartner/ALM survey makes it clear that CLOs and CIOs need to work together more closely to achieve their enterprises' synergistic business goals. Regular, substantive communication is crucial in enabling the IT organisation to support the legal department effectively," said Mr Caldwell. "A strong CLO/CIO partnership, also involving the CRO and CCO, with regular, in-depth communication and collaboration, will enhance the business value of legal technology investments."
Additional analysis is available in the Gartner report "Chief Legal Officers Need Better Partnerships With IT: Gartner/ALM CLO Survey Results." The report is available at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1952219.
ALM, an integrated media company, is a leading provider of specialized business news and information, focused primarily on the legal and commercial real estate sectors. ALM's market-leading brands include The American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, GlobeSt.com, Insight Conferences, Law.com, Law Journal Press, LegalTech, The National Law Journal and Real Estate Forum. Headquartered in New York City, ALM was formed in 1997. For more information, visit www.alm.com.
Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world's leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is a valuable partner to 60,000 clients in 11,500 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 4,500 associates, including 1,250 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit www.gartner.com.