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What the Market Really Wants From E-Discovery Software

Created on May 30, 2012

It's easy for e-discovery software vendors to tout what the market wants and needs. Of course, vendor perceptions don't always reflect true market realities. It's much better when you can go straight to the source in determining the true challenges organizations face with e-discovery and how technology can help.

Industry analysts play a critical role in bridging customer needs with vendor capabilities. Last week, Gartner released its 2012 Magic Quadrant for E-Discovery Software, a comprehensive review of the e-discovery software market based on how well vendors are supporting end-user needs. The eDJ Group, another respected e-discovery research firm, also recently released its own evaluation of the e-discovery vendor market and will soon publish a new eDJ Tech Matrix, which, like Gartner's Magic Quadrant, offers a more interactive, visual representation of vendor capabilities.

Another company that has done a nice job capturing real market needs is the eDiscovery Solutions Group (eDSG). Founded in 2009 by president and CEO Charles Skamser, eDSG publishes surveys and polls on various aspects, opinions and future plans of professionals working in the e-discovery marketplace. The results of these surveys can be quite telling. Here a few highlights from the past few months:

Best-in-Breed vs. Platform

eDSG's most recent survey asked respondents what type of e-discovery technology investment they were planning to make in the next 12 months. They were asked to choose between the traditional integrated “best-in-breed" solution or the emerging single platform products that support the full e-discovery life cycle. Eighty percent of respondents chose the single platform. Gartner observed a similar trend in its Magic Quadrant, noting that organizations are increasingly seeking more full-spectrum EDRM capabilities. While several vendors now tout their solutions as “end-to-end" platforms, several industry experts have confirmed that only a handful of companies offer a true single platform. It's clear from the eDSG poll that the market is moving quickly in this direction.

Advanced Analytics

Another poll conducted by eDSG earlier this year asked respondents to rank the five most important features of an early case assessment (ECA) tool. Appearing most often - on more than 50 percent of lists - was “advanced analytics." This represents another example of just how far the e-discovery software market has come in a relatively short time. While ECA is a legal process traditionally done following the collection of evidence by outside counsel, advancements in technology have helped to expand what ECA can accomplish. Through the use of advanced analytics, in-house legal teams can now gather early insights into case details, such as time frames, potential data volumes, relevant search terms and date ranges, prior to data collection, which can be extremely useful when it comes to deciding how to proceed in a given case, negotiating proportionate discovery parameters with opposing counsel and targeting the truly relevant custodians and data sources. As evidenced by the eDSG survey, the market is finding these capabilities extremely valuable and is actively seeking them out from software vendors.

Future of Predictive Coding

Unless you've been living in a cave over the past few months, you're no doubt familiar with the buzz surrounding computer-assisted review, or predictive coding. Back in March, eDSG asked respondents to identify the stages of the EDRM process where computer-assisted analytics should be utilized. Not surprisingly, 'review' garnered the most votes, but not far behind was the selection 'all.' Review has always been the most expensive phase of the e-discovery process, so it's not surprising that it would be the first target for the computer-assisted wave that's come over the industry. However, as more vendors develop their own computer-assisted technologies, don't be surprised to see the same technology applied to earlier e-discovery stages.

For instance, many organizations have grown accustom to collecting large amounts of data before processing and review. Why not apply the same technology approach that goes into surfacing relevant documents in the review phase to the pre-collection processes? Data collections can be time and resource intensive, taking legal and IT teams away from daily business responsibilities. As the eDSG survey indicates, the market is looking for computer-assisted analytics and intelligent data culling to play a much larger role in earlier stages of the e-discovery process.

To view a full list of eDSG survey and poll results, click here.

For a list of analyst reports addressing the Exterro Platform, click here