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David Hill
David Hill
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FTI Technology: Running Rings Around e-Discovery

That information is an enterprise asset is well-known. That it may unfortunately be a liability is also true, even though we would like to have that concern go away. Enterprises must know how to deal with the liability side of their information when civil litigation arises. As a result, the e-discovery business has risen among IT vendors that hope to help enterprises manage their litigation/liability issues. FTI Technology, with its Ringtail software, is at the forefront of improving the product

That information is an enterprise asset is well-known. That it may unfortunately be a liability is also true, even though we would like to have that concern go away. Enterprises must know how to deal with the liability side of their information when civil litigation arises. As a result, the e-discovery business has risen among IT vendors that hope to help enterprises manage their litigation/liability issues. FTI Technology, with its Ringtail software, is at the forefront of improving the productivity of the e-discovery process.

FTI Consulting is a services-based organization, with deep specialized expertise in compliance, risk, reputation, liability, performance, finance and information. The company had a recent NYSE-listed market cap of $2.5 billion and is divided into five practice areas, of which FTI Technology (our focus today) is one. To give you some sense of the breadth of FTI Consulting's services and consulting activities, they include corporate finance, economic consulting, forensic and litigation consulting, and strategic communications.

FTI Technology has more than 400 employees who drive annual revenues of roughly $150 million. The company covers a lot of bases, including global electronic discovery, forensic data analysis and litigation support readiness. It's this last area on which we'd like to focus, via the Ringtail litigation support software. However, the important thing to note here is that FTI Technology is not simply a software company that has add-on services and consulting, but rather a company that integrates end-to-end software, services and consulting in a natural blend. This is a competitive differentiator for FTI Technology as it brings together the right mix of human experience and expertise with software horsepower that can be tailor-made for each client engagement.

Ringtail 8 is the latest version of FTI Technology's Review Productivity Tool for e-discovery, but how exactly it is positioned in the e-discovery "life cycle"? The e-discovery life cycle is covered in an industry-accepted framework called the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), which is really a workflow management process. As such, it can be divided roughly into three parts: The left side is information collection, the middle part is information analysis, and the right side is information delivery. There is some overlap of functions and iterations, so the division is not as neat and clean as it seems.

Now, no vendor claims ownership of the very right side of information delivery, called presentation. This is the area in which lawyers actually prepare/make their court presentations, and at least so far this has not been automated. Some vendors claim to have end-to-end solutions that cover all the other ERDM steps, but, frankly, this is very hard to perform with the depth and rigor that is needed for both information collection, which is a lot harder than you think, and analysis, which involves more sophisticated processes and analytics than you would imagine.

David Hill is principal of Mesabi Group LLC, which focuses on helping organizations make complex IT infrastructure decisions simpler and easier to understand. He is the author of the book "Data Protection: Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance." View Full Bio
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