The recent appointment of Renato Fazzone as Senior Managing Director and Germany Head of Technology established our permanent presence in the German market for our Technology practice. Backed by more than 15 years working in e-discovery and litigation support, as well as advising clients on corporate fraud and antitrust matters, Renato is eager to expand our offerings and expertise to clients in the region. We recently sat down with him to discuss his vision, the top issues impacting German corporations today, and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting FTI’s offerings.
Renato, you joined the Technology segment following senior and leadership roles at BDO, AlixPartners, EY and PwC. What brought you to FTI?
As someone who has always focused on a technology-first approach, I was attracted to FTI’s leadership as a technology business. On a global level, the firm is a serious and leading player in our technical expertise and offerings. FTI also has an excellent reputation for client service. The opportunity to take a leadership role in the Technology segment and help foster tech and services in the German market was really appealing.
Tell us a bit about your vision and focus for 2020. How has that shifted in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic?
My initial plans were to establish some of FTI’s core practice areas in this region. So, really focusing on growing our e-discovery, computer forensics and data analytics offerings here. That will include raising awareness among new clients, securing engagements and building up a strong team with the highest expertise. While these areas will remain a focus, our team is also pivoting to innovate around the new and changing challenges our clients are facing during this current pandemic.
This includes offering remote collections capabilities to ensure our clients can continue moving forward important investigations and e-discovery matters. We’re now offering virtual managed review capabilities around the world as well. Additional offerings are emerging quickly, to ensure our solutions are aligned with the evolving needs of these trying times.
Beyond our immediate efforts to respond to the pandemic, we will be stepping up new propositions for law firms and in-house legal teams. This may include support for M&A and restructuring, data privacy and other tech-driven services.
To that point, what are the biggest issues German companies face that are driving a need for providers like FTI?
Data privacy and data security (and more broadly information governance) are the two main drivers right now in Europe, and arguably globally. Regulatory driven work, such as antitrust inquiries, corruption probes and internal investigations are also on the rise, and introducing new challenges for corporations.
Remote work environments and widespread lockdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus will also bring new data management challenges around privacy, compliance and e-discovery risk. In the moment, corporations will need support in containing privacy and security exposure and enabling continuity for their active matters. In the aftermath, I expect German companies will be looking for support in improving infrastructure and processes to better weather future crises and remediating/mitigating any vulnerabilities born from having entire workforces working from home.
What about emerging trends? Anything you have your eye on?
Big picture, I’m thinking a lot about the evolution of e-discovery. When I started in this industry in 2004, our work centered on interviews and paper documents. Over the years, it shifted to being more and more technology driven—with email and unstructured data increasingly coming into play. Now, there’s no legal discovery without technology, and practitioners are dealing with exotic data sources and countless communication channels. It’s important to stay ahead of the game, and proactively create solutions for analyzing data from applications and a variety of connected devices. This also means being prepared for situations where data and messages are encrypted, or deleted to the point they are unrecoverable—and understanding how to tackle applications like Evernote, Teams, Yammer, Telegram, etc.
Another important emerging trend is 5G. Some cities in Europe will be set up for widespread 5G launches in the coming year. This will completely change connectivity and enable even more usage of new apps. I’ve encountered many clients who already have gaps in their mobile device management programs—where they don’t have remote access to devices, or aren’t using technology to prevent data deletion from devices. The technology already exists to support strong mobile device management, and companies should be leveraging it to its fullest extent. Especially in a 5G landscape, we want our clients to be thinking about their mobile device management policies and procedures, and other steps they need to be taking to prevent data leakage and loss.
What makes you tick outside of technology and your work at FTI?
When I’m not working, I’m home spending time with my wife and young children. We have three kids, so it’s a lot to keep under control. It’s important to me to fulfill my role as a husband (by freeing up some time for my wife to relax) and as a father (by spending quality family time). I also enjoy running, weight lifting and playing sports to stay in shape mentally and physically, so I’m ready to tackle any challenges that arise in my business and private life.