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Budget for a Better Business in 2017 With Enterprise Business Intelligence Technology

How to spend more wisely and work more efficiently to find a BI solution that works for your firm.

By Megan Beauchemin  |  October 25, 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, members of law firm management work fastidiously to prepare strategic budgets for the following year. Regardless of your role within the firm, make sure an enterprise business intelligence (BI) solution makes the cut as your firm lays out capital expenditures for 2017.

What is Enterprise BI?

Art: Business Intelligence

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A solid enterprise BI solution will enable the firm to blend and analyze a large variety and volume of both internal and external data sources across law firm practices and departments. A complete solution should enable consumption in a variety of formats, including dashboards and traditional reports. Sounds expensive, right? Not necessarily.

It May Cost Less Than you Think

Business intelligence technology has evolved tremendously in recent years from IT-dependent reporting solutions to self-service, user-friendly, business-centric solutions. The number of vendors has increased dramatically, driving competition and forcing providers to deliver better, more cost-efficient solutions. Law firms can expect to pay anywhere from $6K to $200K annually, possibly more depending on the solution and the size of the firm. With such a wide range of prices comes an even wider range in functionality. In some cases, the more expensive product is not the better product.

It is imperative to do your homework. Just like quality and overall price, pricing structures across BI solutions also vary. Vendors may charge by the number of users, dashboards or reports, data sources, or even API-calls. Understanding firm goals will go a long way in estimating an accurate total cost of ownership.

It’s Money You’re Already Spending—Spend It Wiser

The International Legal Technology Association recently published their 2016 ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Survey. Survey questions inquired about the participant’s past and future technology purchases across several categories. Survey results showed sharp growth in analytics software purchases, with the percentage of law firm participants purchasing analytics software increasing from 6% in 2015, to 17% in 2016.

Interestingly, the ILTA survey represented BI solutions and analytics solutions in two separate categories. This provides a window into the purchasing patterns of law firms. Why not purchase a solution that allows you to do both? This technology does exist. Law firms have historically been very loyal to legal-specific technologies and the same can be said for BI technology. Law firms, like other industries, began utilizing BI tools to handle reporting years ago. Recently, these same firms have brought on new solutions for analytics and data visualization. Add another layer for text analytics and predictive, and you now have a BI infrastructure that is as siloed as your data.

So, does your firm have BI? Likely, yes—in some format, or perhaps in many formats. Does it have a solid enterprise BI solution? Probably not.

As firms begins to consider enterprise BI, the first step is to take an inventory of existing technology. You may find it is money your firm is already spending. If your firm is running multiple BI solutions, you may be spending more than necessary. In 2017, spend wiser and work more efficiently to find a BI solution that will enable growth as your firm’s BI strategy continues to mature.

Editor's Note: Megan Beauchemin serves as director of business intelligence and analytics for InOutsource, a consulting company that assists law firms with information governance, new business intake, and conflicts of interest needs.

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