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Top Trends in eDiscovery

My time at ILTA '09 helped me to crystallize some important eDiscovery trends.

Trend #1: The Corporation Rules. This is obvious to everyone and their grandmothers: that eDiscovery development is being driven by the corporation. eDiscovery technology remains important in the law firm first as a review platform, and for a few large law firms as a competitive product.  But it is the corporation that is motivated to control eDiscovery costs behind the firewall and at its outside law firms. Behind the firewall the corporation leverages eDiscovery products for information management, data retention and ECA. When it comes to their outside attorneys, corporations want to control costs by at least seeing the breakdown of law firm invoicing, and the more powerful clients can even strongly suggest (O.K., force) their law firms to use the same eDiscovery control platform that the corporation is using for their corporate matters. (Vendors: Pretty much everyone in eDiscovery. Vendors are keeping a strong presence in the law firms but are concentrating development on the needs of the overlord - oh excuse me, the corporation.)

Trend #2: Actually Early ECA. Another trend is the movement towards an early ECA. This seems silly on the face of it since the acronym stands for "Early Case Assessment." However, although ECA has been around a long time it traditionally happened much closer to the review stage.  The problem with this scenario is that ECA ends up happening quite late in the eDiscovery cycle; much too late to do any good by the meet-and-confer.  By moving ECA to its proper place early in the workflow, ECA achieves its proper place in planning and strategy.

Trend #3: Right-Hand in Flux. A related development to ECA is a back and forth series of product development and announcements between ECA-driven analytics stages and the later review stage. Thus you see companies moving from ECA support to include review and perhaps production. On the review side, review vendors are moving back to add early ECA support. (Representative vendors: Clearwell, Kazeon, CaseCentral, Anacomp, Inference; others will announce during Q3 and Q4)

Trend #4: Left-Hand Expansion. You are also seeing movement on the left-hand side of the EDRM where information management, collection, identification, and preservation are located.  While products along the right-hand side are moving horizontally back and forth, left-hand side products are moving vertically to encompass additional business processes and business units. For example, an enterprise indexing product may position itself to IT as a proactive product and to attorneys as a reactive one. In addition, the vendor builds marketing and outreach to include new business units such as records management, and new business processes like data retention management. Other examples include leveraging enterprise search or backup/archive tape cataloging and management. (Representative vendors: StoredIQ, B&L, Recommind)

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