Industry analysis

Industry analysis

An elephant in the room

New research from Wilson Allen finds that intense competition for technology talent in 2022 is preventing law firms from getting the right return on their investment in business process improvement efforts

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As global law firms invest heavily in new technology, fuelled by the belief that technology is the key to unlocking future growth and profitability, new qualitative research on leading firms by technology consulting firm Wilson Allen has uncovered a rather large elephant in the room.

Wilson Allen’s chief revenue officer, Kaye Sycamore, says the research reveals how firms are struggling to find, attract and retain technology and business application talent.

According to the research findings there are several different facets to this problem, but the outcome is the same. Firms are severely handicapped in their ability to implement and get value from their technology investments.

Never before has there been such a rapid proliferation of new technology. And never before have technology resources been so constrained and so expensive. There’s a skills gap, and a serious issue around the ability of in-house teams to meet return-on-investment expectations. Expert skills in areas such as data analytics, as well as routine training in practice management system applications, are in short supply. This is resulting in significant salary expectation increases.

Firms are severely handicapped in their ability to implement and get value from their technology investments

The high cost of tech staff is especially difficult for smaller firms unable to compete for talent. And experts in more horizontal technologies (cloud tech, for example, and AI/ML) are more attracted to industries that are utilising and applying these technologies more aggressively. The result is that the supply of talent is waning just as demand is strengthening.

On top of this there is then the ‘Great Resignation’. The impacts have been real. Firms that can afford to compete for tech talent have been doing so. However, the talent pool is now actively seeking better opportunities and better pay. There is a feeling that employees have an inflated sense of value. Some firms are considering compensation increases to counter this issue. As a result, there is increased strain on budgets and the affordability of hiring new experienced resources.

The potential for technology to help firms prosper is undoubted. But the challenge is how to realise that potential in this new highly constrained skills environment.

Expert skills in areas such as data analytics, as well as routine training in practice management system applications, are in short supply. This is resulting in significant salary expectation increases

Kaye Sycamore says: “Whatever a law firm is doing, litigation, corporate, M&A, there are hundreds of software applications all adding up to a major enablement problem. It’s a rising tide and in-house teams are struggling to stay above it.”

What can firms do to address the enablement problem? Technology consulting companies such as Wilson Allen have a constructive role to play, says Sycamore.

“For our part, we’ve announced a new range of subscription services designed to fill the gaps facing in-house teams.

“The first service to be launched is iDEA – Digital Enablement and Adoption. This new subscription service is the first of a range of subscription services Wilson Allen is developing in response to market demand for high-end support services based on a trusted relationship that delivers value over time, rather than short term project-based engagements.

“iDEA is designed to help in-house teams with a full service to manage, maintain and deliver training programmes for onboarding, tech skills and adoption, and tech rollouts – including e-learning courseware and tools.

“It’s important to stress that iDEA and other subscription services rolling out later this year are not project-based, but are offered via an annual agreement, customised for individual firms, with an annual service fee. No one else is doing a comparable service on an embedded basis.

“Law firms don’t need more projects right now. They need an ongoing partnership with a partner who can add value over time, ramping up or down depending on in-house resources.”

To read the full research report, visit: www.wilsonallen.com