The Many Benefits of E-Discovery

Enterprises are increasingly forming interdisciplinary teams to research e-discovery services and products

April 14, 2009

3 Min Read
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In a previous article, I referred to e-discovery as the pachyderm in the classic story of the blind men and the elephant. The men were attempting to describe the elephant solely by the single part that each was feeling. Of course, each described an animal that was most emphatically not an elephant.

The story fits e-discovery because so many people confidently talk about e-discovery as if it were one thing: the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure amendments, or court rulings, or review and analysis, or email searches. All of these things are involved in e-discovery, but e-discovery is much larger than the sum of these parts and many more.

Here is our definition of e-discovery: "E-discovery is the process of classifying, collecting, preserving, reviewing, and producing electronically stored information (ESI)." This definition references e-discovery's major pain point: litigation. But this e-discovery definition is not limited to litigation. That is because the same point points -- and the same solutions -- benefit not only the litigation e-discovery process, but also compliance and even storage management. Essentially, e-discovery tools and best practices impact any business process that depends on visibility and control over ESI.

The most-affected workgroups here are Legal (i.e. the General Counsel's office); the governance, risk, and compliance folks (GRC); and IT, which must manage all of that data that legal and GRC are desperately trying to search.

E-discovery and Legal: This is the classic use of e-discovery tools and its biggest development driver. Legal has used review and analysis software for years, but these packages are developing analytics to reach further back in the e-discovery cycle. The earlier that review and analysis can produce workable results sets, the more cost-effective litigation e-discovery becomes.E-discovery and GRC: With the SEC finally coming down hard on public companies, compliance managers desperately need a way to return data results fast in response to investigations. Regulatory compliance is not the only driver here, as internal governance and due diligence e-discovery needs also figure strongly in this segment.

E-discovery and IT: Collection-based e-discovery development impacts IT in two ways -- it enables them to help Legal and GRC collect and review huge masses of ESI, and it can help IT directly to manage storage by automating retention schedules. This depends on a given e-discovery product's capabilities of course, but including automated data movement policies is a common feature.

To get to this place, corporations are increasingly forming interdisciplinary teams to research services and products that will help them corral e-discovery for litigation and compliance, and increasingly for data lifecycle management. Going forward, we believe that litigation will remain the most significant pain point. But compliance also benefits directly from e-discovery-driven development and is not far behind. And IT can make use of some "collection" e-discovery offerings to manage storage -- a highly leveraged use of e-discovery technology.

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.

InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis of the challenges around enterprise storage. Download the report here (registration required).7021

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