Sea Changes for IT and Ediscovery


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Corporate ediscovery purchasers and influencers run the gamut of departments and disciplines. This can make selling ediscovery into the corporation a tough row to hoe unless you know your buyer extremely well. This is particularly true with the IT ediscovery buyer and influencer.

Many ediscovery vendors are used to selling into the corporate Legal suite, but not the IT organization. As a secondary influencer, sure. As a primary purchaser? Not so much. But that is exactly what is happening in the corporation as the ediscovery emphasis widens to include information management, search and collections –- all processes firmly in the IT department's hands. And the ediscovery vendor conversation that works with corporate legal often doesn't work with IT.

Let's look at three major themes in the evolution of IT and ediscovery:

  1. Growing influence over the ediscovery purchasing process
  2. Continued challenges around ediscovery practices and deployments
  3. IT's critical success factors

IT Is a Key Influencer on Ediscovery

Legal used to have a stranglehold on budgets and purchasing decisions. But as ediscovery products around search and collections grew in importance, they increasingly impacted IT. The size of data collections grew, and the cost of culling the results for review was and is prohibitive. Attorneys look to their ediscovery vendors and to IT for help in collecting more relevant data faster.

This influence is growing as both legal and IT departments increasingly understand the role that information management decisions play in supporting ediscovery as a business process. Legal is using IT more frequently as internal consultants for analysis and processing purchases, and single vendor ediscovery platforms require both IT and Legal input from the start. Legal remains the gateway, but IT buy-in is a necessity.

Not all corporations keep data collections in-house, of course; many archive email to a hosted service provider for storage and ediscovery actions. This relieves IT of intensive collections processing on email, which is ediscovery's primary content target. But SharePoint, file systems and long-term backup are also subject to ediscovery collections. These are not as likely to be hosted. IT must still deploy the host's archiving software and arrange for remote pushing of the data to the hosting data center.

What Changed?

Historically, IT has been famously reluctant to engage in ediscovery, believing that it was purely Legal's lookout (and problem). This has changed for several reasons including:

  • Self-defense: Ediscovery requirements are more demanding than they used to be. Legal and corporate law firms could frequently plead undue burden to get out of having to search through ESI, but that is no longer tenable. The result is IT workers spending much more time searching poorly searchable backup data. They are also shipping off more backup tape and drives to ediscovery consultants while resenting the loss of data control.
  • Legal supports ediscovery technology: Legal is increasingly demanding ediscovery technology along with human resources devoted to the process of ediscovery. Their technology needs center around analysis and review, but they are very aware that information management, collections and preservation require better tools as well.
  • Ediscovery purchases require IT input: Very few corporations are running out and funding entire ediscovery platforms at once -- ediscovery budgets remain largely reactive -– but technology purchases are getting funded in response to critical ediscovery needs. Reactive purchases are characterized by a limited deployment in response to a critical matter. IT will either helm the project or work closely with the vendor. Proactive purchases will not be so time-intensive, but they will generally have a broader impact and require regular IT involvement.
  • IT's desire to keep data under its control: The multistage ediscovery workflow requires intensive data movement between stages, products and people. IT will not always have this data under its control as it moves off-site to service providers and external law firms. But during the early stages of ediscovery, the data will be on corporate networks and devices, and IT will need to control access and protect data integrity. The more involved the department is in early ediscovery stages, the better it will be able to maintain data integrity and management.

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