The biggest legal technology event of the year, otherwise known as LegalTech New York, always seems to have a few common rallying cries and this year was no different. In addition to cloud computing and social media, predictive coding and information governance were hot topics of discussion that dominated banter among vendors, speakers, and customers. Symantec conducted a survey on the exhibit show floor to find out what attendees really thought about these two burgeoning areas and to explore what the future might hold.
Information Governance is critical, understood, and necessary – but it is not yet being adequately addressed.
Although 84% of respondents are familiar with the term information governance and 73% believe that an integrated information governance strategy is critical to reducing information risk and cost, only 19% have implemented an information governance solution. These results beg the question, if information governance is critical, then why aren’t more organizations adopting information governance practices?
Perhaps the answer lies in the cross-functional nature of information governance and confusion about who is responsible for the organization’s information governance strategy. For example, the survey also revealed that information governance is a concept that incorporates multiple functions across the organization, including email/records retention, data storage, data security and privacy, compliance, and eDiscovery. Given the broad impact of information governance across the organization, it is no surprise respondents also indicated that multiple departments within the organization - including Legal, IT, Compliance, and Records Management - have an ownership stake.
These results tend to suggest at least two things. First, information governance is a concept that touches multiple parts of the organization. Defining and implementing appropriate information governance policies across the organization should include an integrated strategy that involves key stakeholders within the organization. Second, recognition that information governance is a common goal across the entire organization highlights the fact that technology must evolve to help address information governance challenges.
The days of relying too heavily on disconnected point solutions to address eDiscovery, storage, data security, and record retention concerns are limited as organizations continue to mandate internal cost cutting and data security measures. Decreasing the number of point solutions an organization supports and improving integration between the remaining solutions is a key component of a good information governance strategy because it has the effect of driving down technology and labor costs. Similarly, an integrated solution strategy helps streamline the backup, retrieval, and overall management of critical data, which simultaneously increases worker productivity and reduces organizational risk in areas such as eDiscovery and data loss prevention.
The trail that leads from point solutions to an integrated solution strategy is already being blazed in the eDiscovery space and this trend serves as a good information governance roadmap. More and more enterprises faced with investigations and litigation avoid the cost and time of deploying point solutions to address legal hold, data collection, data processing, and document review in favor of a single, integrated, enterprise eDiscovery platform. The resulting reduction in cost and risk is significant and is fueling support for even broader information governance initiatives in other areas. These broader initiatives will still include integrated eDiscovery solutions, but the initiatives will continue to expand the integrated solution approach into other areas such as storage management, record retention, and data security technologies to name a few.
Despite mainstream familiarity, predictive coding technology has not yet seen mainstream adoption but the future looks promising.
Much like the term information governance, most respondents were familiar with predictive coding technology for electronic discovery, but the survey results indicated that adoption of the technology to date has been weak. Specifically, the survey revealed that while 97% of respondents are familiar with the term predictive coding, only 12% have adopted predictive coding technology. Another 19% are “currently adopting” or plan to adopt predictive coding technology, but the timeline for adoption is unclear.
When asked what challenges “held back” respondents from adopting predictive coding technology, most cited accuracy, cost, and defensibility as their primary concerns. Concerns about “privilege/confidentiality” and difficulty understanding the technology were also cited as reasons impeding adoption. Significantly, 70% of respondents believe that predictive coding technology would “go mainstream” if it was easier to use, more transparent, and less expensive. These findings are consistent with the observations articulated in my recent blog (2012: Year of the Dragon and Predictive Coding – Will the eDiscovery Landscape Be Forever Changed?)
The survey results combined with the potential cost savings associated with predictive coding technology suggest that the movement toward predictive coding technology is gaining steam. Lawyers are typically reluctant to embrace new technology that is not intuitive because it is difficult to defend a process that is difficult to understand. The complexity and confusion surrounding today’s predictive coding technology was highlighted recently in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Group, et. al. during a recent status conference. The case is venued in Southern District of New York Federal Court before Judge Andrew Peck and serves as further evidence that predictive coding technology is gaining steam. Expect future proceedings in the Da Silva Moore case to further validate these survey results by revealing both the promise and complexity of current predictive coding technologies. Similarly, expect next generation predictive coding technology to address current complexities by becoming easier to use, more transparent, and less expensive.