Editor’s Note: The author of this post is managing director of Recommind.
By Derek Schueren, co-founder and managing director, Recommind
“Software is eating the world.” That’s what Marc Andreessen wrote in a brilliant piece back in 2011. From retail to transportation and energy to finance, the world is being transformed by technology and software is leading the charge.
So what about eDiscovery? Why hasn’t software eaten eDiscovery? Software has certainly tried, and one could argue it has taken a significant bite out of the market. But software has not yet eaten eDiscovery. Manual tasks and inefficiencies still remain a problem. Intense pressure along with short timelines and high stakes don’t allow for much time to “rethink the process.” This is an industry of survival; get things done quickly and don’t make any mistakes.
But what if eDiscovery didn’t have to be this way? What if software could streamline the process and anticipate your demands before you even have them? What if software could guide you through a process that allowed you to hit your deadlines every time? What if you no longer had to worry about managing the data and you could instead focus on how best to analyze it? Years ago, I used to worry about whether or not a cab would come and pick me up. Now, I don’t worry about this at all. Software solved this problem, and there is no reason software can’t fix eDiscovery as well.
So how does software eat eDiscovery? Let’s discuss three major trends in the space:
1. The Move to Cloud-based SaaS Environments
When eDiscovery first started, it was pretty simple. There wasn’t much electronic data, so desktop software came about to help lawyers manage their cases. It was not scalable but did the job. Then came server-side software. It was more scalable and robust and was a step in the right direction, but still hindered process. Why? Lawyers now required a team of IT professionals to help deal with the software and loading of data. Today, we are encroaching on the third generation of eDiscovery: eDiscovery in the cloud. With the advent of cloud-based SaaS environments for eDiscovery has come greater information sharing, collaboration and analysis.
A major problem for consumers utilizing eDiscovery software is finding they have to stitch together three or four technologies to ingest data, review it and perform analytics. Users don’t want to have to deal with multiple systems and error-prone transitions of data from one platform to another. They want one place to do it all. If software is to eat the eDiscovery market, it has to eat all of it. The market must have an end-to-end solution providing users with a one-stop shop for all their data.
2. The Centralization of Data
Without the centralization of data in eDiscovery, process improvement cannot occur. It is next to impossible to manage dozens of vendors, all with different software tools and processes, and to get them to do everything in a unified way. Even if that was achievable, the data would still be in distributed silos making, for example, the reuse of privilege tags from one case to another quite difficult. Some might say it’s risky to centralize, as this creates a dependency on a vendor. That certainly is a risk and one that should be mitigated. A plan needs to be in place around the migration of data, even before you get started with a vendor.
The biggest risk though is not having standardization. By using multiple vendors and processes, you can’t be uniform in how you handle your data. Your efforts to monitor your vendors become quite complicated. Process improvement is next to impossible and problems in your process become major risks.
3. The Emergence of Business Intelligence
For many companies, eDiscovery has become a business process. And along with any process comes data points about that process. Business intelligence can help refine that process. By using state of the art business intelligence technology, data can be analyzed and decisions can be made that significantly improve this business process. Business intelligence provides a layer of transparency that is very hard to get to without its functions.
Through business intelligence, case managers can now determine what the problem documents are, how much they’re spending in their litigation portfolio and on which attorneys, as well as how the budget is trending from case type to case type. A cloud-based SaaS platform with built-in business intelligence capabilities makes this all possible. Now instead of lawyers making decisions based on gut, they can make it based on data.
Software has not eaten eDiscovery, yet. At least not in the way intended. But that is quickly changing. With data moving into the cloud and companies trying to reduce their risks and costs, there is a natural opportunity for eDiscovery to fully move to a cloud model. SaaS can provide these benefits and many companies are starting to realize this. As these trends continue, you can make a certain bet that software will eat eDiscovery. It just will take some time to chew and digest.