The best privacy advisers in 2007

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Which consulting firm had the best showing? Last year, Ernst & YoungDeloitte & Touche and PricewaterhouseCoopers ranked evenly. The votes were still close this year, but E&Y edged ahead with 38 tallies out of 203 in this category. Respondents indicated that they're turning to this group for help for privacy-related initiatives such as enterprise risk assessments, where the legal questions are secondary.

Factors cited

What were the reasons survey takers gave for choosing one firm over another? In a nutshell, they want the right answer, they want it quickly, they want it in a way that they can practically implement — and they don't mind if they have to pay a premium for it. These are the factors respondents cited:

  • Broad and deep expertise (cited by 82%) — The firm's staffers consistently demonstrate a high-caliber command of privacy and are well respected in the field.

  • Practical advice (78%) — Their advice is not theoretical but realistic and actionable, sensitive to business constraints.

  • Timely and thorough work (63%) — Their work is not only swift but is complete and accurate in the details.

  • Accessible staff (56%) — Their staff is personable and responds quickly to calls and messages.

  • They understand my business (56%) — They take the time to understand clients' businesses and deliver advice from the business perspective.

  • Global staff and affiliates (33%) — They have staff or affiliates in many countries with a command of their local scenes and a consistent global framework of advice. 

  • Government connections (31%) — They have an extensive network of government ties that clients can access and that broadens their expertise.

  • Interdisciplinary perspective (31%) — The firm's privacy practice leverages other functions within the firm to provide more comprehensive advice.

  • Affordable rates (19%) — Their firm charges reasonable rates.

Other drivers

I asked the privacy experts how they've seen the privacy market change this year. “The biggest development,” said Peggy Eisenhauer, head of Privacy and Information Management Services, “is the explosion of enforcement activity everywhere.”

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