The Era of the Megalith in College Football and eDiscovery

As a fanatic Boise State Football fan, I have had enough on my plate the past couple of days trying to sort out which of the new megalithic conferences that my beloved Boise State Football team is going to end up in. Looks like the new PAC 16 will take what they want from the Big 12, the Big 10 will expand and then the rest of the conferences will get the leftovers.

Now, with the announcement of the merger between CT Summation and AccessData (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/accessdata-corporation-and-ct-summation-announce-merger-95979904.html), it looks like we are going to have to start shorting out the creation of Megaliths in eDiscovery.

As a long time proponent of single source solutions, I like the concept of what the combination of CT Summation and AccessData can bring to the table.

As the leader in in-house eDiscovery collection, processing and analysis, AccessData brings to the merger an unsurpassed technology portfolio, designed to enable the world’s largest companies to take control of eDiscovery and dramatically reduce costs. Its AccessData eDiscovery software is currently the most comprehensive eDiscovery solution on the market, enabling organizations to address litigation hold, automated collection, processing, and analysis prior to attorney review.

CT Summation, the premier provider of litigation workflow and eDiscovery solutions to law firms and corporate legal departments, brings to the deal a comprehensive suite of software products that are the gold standard throughout the legal community. CT Summation’s iBlaze, Enterprise, WebBlaze, CaseVault, CaseVantage and Discovery Cracker products have received more than 45 legal industry technology and “Reader’s Choice” awards since 1997. CT Summation is part of Wolters Kluwer Corporate Legal Services, which operates under the CT brand. Wolters Kluwer will remain as a strategic investor in the new AccessData Group, LLC, with a minority stake in the company.

By combining these complementary workflow solutions, AccessData will be able to deliver the first, true end-to-end eDiscovery software solution for corporations and law firms that supports the litigation process from litigation hold through trial.

However, just like the thought of a PAC 16 super conference, is combining CT Summation and AccessData just too overwhelming and too much? I suspect that that answer is both yes and no depending upon who you ask. For me, the thought of a super conference would be fine as long as Boise State was one of the teams. I am not sure how that relates to eDiscovery and therefore I am going to drop the analogy at this point.

Over the past 5 years, Autonomy has had somewhat of a lock on single source solutions in the eDiscovery space (no disrespect meant to the other players trying to do this). And, they (Autonomy), overall, provides a pretty good solution. However, they do not provide the best solution at every step along the EDRM. Therefore, some users would prefer to have the option to choose their own “best-in-class” components and integrate them together. And, over the past couple of years, some very good independent and individual component technologies are emerged such as Clearwell and Relativity. Neither of these vendors address the entire EDRM. However, they both do an excellent job at their piece and both seem to be trying to expand their capabilities to support more of the EDRM. However, at this point, the integration of these best-in-class players is still the big trick. Therefore, the value of an Autonomy or now a CT Summation / AccessData (are they going to call it AccessData?) is the fact that it is all integrated together, there is a common workflow of shorts and it comes from one vendor (i.e. you only have one phone call to make when something doesn’t work). So, the enterprise has to decide if they want the single-source Megalith solution or if the would prefer to chose individual best-in-class components and then integrate them together. Obviously, there is some big money chasing the Megalith path.

On another note and actually the topic of a future post is the concept of an open API (that’s always a matter of perspective), plug-and-play workflow management platform that would enable end-users to choose the best-in-class route and magically integrate them all together into a very productive eDiscovery / GRC workflow. Exterro has just such a solution and I believe that combined with the right best-in-class components will make a very compelling argument against the Megalith. As indicated, I plan to cover the workflow platform in great detail over the next couple of weeks. However, to provide some insight into my thinking, with the right workflow management platform, best-in-class solutions provided a tremendous amount of long term flexibility for users and place a tremendous burden on the Megalithic providers to keep pace with the steady stream of innovation that is inevitable in any market. This is not a new phenomenon.

But, with today’s agile development methodologies and rapidly evolving open source technology stacks, it is becoming more and more difficult for the Megalith development teams to compete long term. And at some point, your code base becomes so large and integrated in such strange ways that no one actually even knows how it works. I guess at that point you sell your maintenance stream to CA or IBM and go home.

So, in summary, given the ongoing the economic condition throughout the world and the buying shifts that are occurring in the user base, there just isn’t enough room in the vendor community for as many player and therefore there is going to be consolidation through mergers and acquisitions. Whether or not this leaves the market with a few Megaliths (Super Conferences) to choose from is anyone’s guess. But, just like the shack up that is occurring in college football, this is all very exciting to watch.

About Charles Skamser
Charles Skamser is an internationally recognized technology sales, marketing and product management leader with over 25 years of experience in Information Governance, eDiscovery, Machine Learning, Computer Assisted Analytics, Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, IT Automation and ITOA. Charles is the founder and Senior Analyst for eDiscovery Solutions Group, a global provider of information management consulting, market intelligence and advisory services specializing in information governance, eDiscovery, Big Data analytics and cloud computing solutions. Previously, Charles served in various executive roles with disruptive technology start ups and well known industry technology providers. Charles is a prolific author and a regular speaker on the technology that the Global 2000 require to manage the accelerating increase in Electronically Stored Information (ESI). Charles holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from Macalester College.