5 years ago, the “Next Big Thing” (NBT) in eDiscovery was Early Case Assessment (ECA). Over the past 24 months the NBT in eDiscovery has been Predictive Coding. Today, May 14, 2014, I am going to once again predict that the NBT for eDiscovery over the next 24 months is going to be the merging of eDiscovery with the overall practice of Information Governance (IG) and/or Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC). Or, more aptly stated, the evolution of IG and/or GRC to include support for the requirements of eDiscovery.
The reason I said that I will once again predict this trend is because in an article that I published on September 15, 2011, titled, “Evolving from eDiscovery to Information Governance,” I made a similar prediction and concluded:
I believe that there are currently several eDiscovery platform vendors that have platforms or are close to having platforms that could provide support for at least part of the IG lifecycle. However, I have concluded that these eDiscovery platform vendors are going to have to retool their sales and channel organizations to effectively sell IG into the global 2000. Further, I have concluded that these eDiscovery platform vendors will face a major challenge to develop and deliver a coherent and effect IG marketing message to the global 2000 and many of the current partnerships and channels of distribution that the eDiscovery platform vendors have developed are not going to be of much use in the IG market as these partners do not have relationships with the IG buyers and are not even currently selling into the global 2000 IG market.
In conclusion, having said all of that, I firmly predict that several of the current eDiscovery platform vendors will rise up to meet these challenges and become major players in the IG market within the next five (5) years. As a result, some of them will be acquired along the way and other will remain independent. The rest of the eDiscovery platform vendors will continue to successfully ride the wave of project based eDiscovery and associated services for many years to come. After all, not every organization in the world is going to jump on the IG bandwagon.
3 years later, even though we have not made the progress that I had hoped, I am beginning to see some of what I predicted coming true. Unfortunately, users have a long way to go in regards to their vision and subsequent platform requirements of how Information Governance and eDiscovery evolve into one platform. And, as a result, without any clear vision from the users, vendors have been floundering in regards to a coherent and marketable platform road map.
Over the past 3 years I have observed that most corporations still have their legal departments “manage” eDiscovery in collaboration with outside counsel and litigation service providers, vendors and consultants du jour. Further, I have observed that this merry band of strange and uncomfortable bedfellows only calls on the corporate Information Technology (IT) department as may be required for such tasks as implementation of legal holds and the technical aspects of information identification, gathering and collection. And, it is still an unusual circumstance for this mob to include IT in any of the 26(f) planning meetings and associated actions unless absolutely necessary.
On the other hand, I have also observed and concluded that many corporations have a separate IG and/or GRC organization that does work much more closely with IT and only calls upon the legal department, even though they may in fact to be source of IG and/or GRC requirements, when it is absolutely necessary.
This dysfunctional process is further exasperated and pushed even further from becoming the symbiotic and functional arrangement that it could be when you throw eDiscovery vendors in the mix that supposedly support IG and/or GRC yet their sales people have no idea what IG and/or GRC even are. Or, when the handful of IG, GRC, Storage, database, records management and other related technology vendors contend that they support eDiscovery yet their field sales people think a legal hold is when you walk down the hall to the legal department and hold hands and sing kumbaya with the administrative staff.
So, all parties involved have to bare a share of the blame for eDiscovery and IG and/or GRC remaining separate functions.
Therefore, for the purposes of this article, I am going to lay the foundation for this integration to be most successful and list those features that I believe / predict a single homogeneous IG/GRC platform has to be able to do to support both IG/GRC and eDiscovery.
My list is as follows:
- Central point of control with access to and control over all Electronically Stored Information (ESI) no matter where it resides via local intelligent agents.
- Platform implementation in the cloud, behind the firewall and as a hybrid solution.
- The capability to know when new ESI is created and when existing ESI is changed.
- The capability to index all ESI real time and “in place” and provide real time search, identification, analysis and hold/preserve of that ESI all “in place”.
- The capability to then collect and move or destroy that ESI as may be required either proactively or automatically based on “business/governance/compliance/eDiscovery rules”.
- Application of predictive analytic technology to the process of identification, analysis and action against ESI in place.
- First Pass Document Review and Full Blown Document review with production available in the cloud, behind the firewall and as a hybrid solution.
- Integrated workflow management throughout the entire platform and lifecycle of the ESI.
Having these capabilities will enable a single homogeneous IG/GRC platform to perform the following tasks:
- Early ESI analysis for both eDiscovery and IG/GRC.
- Legal Hold.
- Collection of ESI for both eDiscovery and IG/GRC.
- Review of ESI for both eDiscovery and IG/GRC.
- Automation/Implementation of Records Management policies.
In future articles, I will be reviewing those vendors that have technologies that best address my initial list of requirements. The list is short. However, there are in fact a few vendors that have impressed me with how they are addressing the requirements as I have listed them.
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