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Leveraging the Left: The Role of Collection in High ROI

Leveraging an e-discovery platform to serve multiple business processes such as governance, risk, compliance and data retention can significantly raise ROI.

Unstructured data stores are growing fast and the ability to manage them is shrinking. This is particularly true when it comes to business processes that depend on visibility into electronically stored information (ESI) and the ability to take subsequent action. E-discovery is the main driver for these capabilities, but other business processes also depend on it: processes like governance, compliance, and even IT's ability to manage data for value and retention. Along these lines, we believe that the left-hand side of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM), which includes information management, identification, preservation, and collection, can be leveraged to serve additional processes beyond e-discovery. Certainly e-discovery remains the major driver and pain point. The high cost of e-discovery is obvious in terms of preparation work and of the level of risk involved.

But e-discovery is not alone. Poor ESI visibility and management also impacts the governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) group. Both legal departments and GRC managers need to pull relevant data out of the same huge volumes of unstructured data, a very expensive and time-consuming process. And there is a third stakeholder -- IT. They are slammed both inside and out: inside because they need to manage storage for retention and value, and outside because they need to support legal and GRC's collection and preservation.

Ideally, all three stakeholders can be served by a common platform that can manage, identify, collect, and preserve unstructured data; and can present it according to different process needs. For example, an identification and collection platform can support metadata and content queries across multiple storage pools. This serves legal and GRC's search needs. The platform specifically serves an e-discovery business process by preserving relevant data and enabling processing into a document review and analysis platform. The same platform supports GRC with out-of-the-box and customizable policies for preset compliance actions. In addition, the same platform's capabilities can support IT by providing actionable policies for data movement and deletion according to retention schedules.

Litigation-fueled e-discovery is clearly the major driver for this type of development. But when it comes to collection and identification, the same technology that supports the e-discovery process may well support additional processes as well. The fact is, e-discovery, GRC, and data retention management all depend on the same ESI infrastructure. Leveraging these e-discovery platforms to serve multiple business processes can significantly raise ROI from the left-hand side of the EDRM.

Christine Taylor, an analyst with The Taneja Group, has more than a decade of experience in covering the IT and communications industries. She has written extensively on the role of technology in e-discovery, compliance and governance, and information management. View Full Bio
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