Tag Archives: Microsoft

Microsoft’s Lessons for the eDiscovery Industry

Microsoft imageThe announcement that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is set to retire within 12 months naturally spurred some thought on the analogous plateauing or even demise of prominent eDiscovery software firms in recent years. In my view, there are two general lessons to be gleaned by the eDiscovery industry from Microsoft’s troubles.

The first is about the speed of change in this industry. Three years ago, the PC was king and predictive coding was a fairly obscure term. Now, mobile devices, cloud, social media and desktop virtualization have relegated the traditional PC to the road to legacy status. And we all know the story of the tidal wave that is the predictive coding craze of 2013.

And this leads to the second and related lesson, which is the difficulty for dominant companies to stay innovative in such a fast-changing environment. This past week featured a lot of commentary from business and technology pundits, mostly making fairly obvious points about Microsoft missing the boat on smart phones, tablets and the Vista and Windows 8 debacles. But in terms of the bigger picture, I like the analysis from Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who summoned wisdom from 14th Century North African philosopher Ibn Khaldun:

“One insight (Khaldun) had, based on the history of his native North Africa, was that there was a rhythm to the rise and fall of dynasties. Desert tribesmen, he argued, always have more courage and social cohesion than settled, civilized folk, so every once in a while they will sweep in and conquer lands whose rulers have become corrupt and complacent. They create a new dynasty — and, over time, become corrupt and complacent themselves, ready to be overrun by a new set of barbarians.

I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to apply this story to Microsoft, a company that did so well with its operating-system monopoly that it lost focus, while Apple — still wandering in the wilderness after all those years — was alert to new opportunities. And so the barbarians swept in from the desert.”

And I think it’s even less of stretch to apply this story to the eDiscovery software industry. For instance, in speaking to a couple of eDiscovery executives last week, they lamented that a dominant review tool his company relies on, had in their opinion become “long in the tooth” with the executives of that software provider no longer very accessible. Another leading eDiscovery software vendor recently launched a major upgrade to their flagship product resulting in palpable user exodus as the new version was much more complex, with a brand new interface that fell flat. Basically straight out of the Windows 8 playbook.  Not be outdone in its loss of focus, a similar and also market leading company now supports, by my count, at least 12 different products and at least 5 different markets.

And I think this trend of disruption is accentuated in the eDiscovery field because even the dominant players do not have several million in idle funds for research and development into cutting-edge technologies that will not produce meaningful revenue in the near term. Instead, they have to answer to investors of various stripes who demand that quarterly revenue numbers and positive near term cash flow are met. It’s the classic innovators dilemma.

What this means for key buyers of eDiscovery software is that they should be open to change and consider avoiding lock-in with seemingly dominate vendors who could only be months away from being displaced by the barbarians from the desert.

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Filed under eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery

SharePoint eDiscovery: Ten Times the Cost

Sharepoint no colorOur recent webinar on SharePoint eDiscovery challenges with eDiscovery Journals’ Greg Buckles featured a substantive and detailed discussion on the nuances, pitfalls and opportunities associated with eDiscovery of data from SharePoint sites. This topic is very timely as the majority of enterprises are deploying the Microsoft platform at an accelerated rate, with the solution reaching $1 billion in sales faster than any other Microsoft product in history. As SharePoint enables enterprises to consolidate file shares, Intranet sites, internal message boards and wikis, project management, collaboration and more into a single platform, it provides significant operational efficiencies as well as eDiscovery challenges. The vast majority of current SharePoint deployments are versions 2007 or 2010, and neither have meaningful internal eDiscovery or even export features.

Greg Buckles is a well-known eDiscovery expert with a strong command of technical issues concerning data collection from SharePoint sites. In his presentation, he addressed the particular challenge of preserving data from SharePoint in a targeted matter and in context. According to Buckles, current eDiscovery practices involve mass raw data exports from the platform, instead of a preferable practice of review and early case assessment in place to enable a far more efficient and targeted collection of only potentially relevant information. Bulk exports from SharePoint contain a mass of unstructured data that is out of context with no easy way to associate files, document lists, metadata fields and the many other native data types and fields. As a result, the data must be sorted out on the back-end in time-consuming and highly manual eDiscovery processing and review efforts.  Buckles reports that he routinely sees tenfold increases eDiscovery processing and review costs because of these challenges.

A full video recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

Another key SharePoint eDiscovery challenge involves its deployment architecture. By their nature, typical SharePoint deployments are de-centralized as the solution is geared toward supporting individual departments and “teams” as opposed to forcing data centralization to a single and large data center. Appliance-based eDiscovery solutions or remote collections do not work as it may take weeks if not months to copy a multi-terabyte SharePoint site over a network connection and a large corporation may have several dozens of SharePoint silos to collect from.  Manual collection efforts, which are geared toward mass “data dumps,” are as mentioned very costly and inefficient.

Instead, what is needed is a solution such as X1 Rapid Discovery can quickly and remotely install and operate within the same local network domain to enable localized search, review and early case assessment in place. X1 Rapid Discovery’s full content indexing and preview of native SharePoint document libraries and lists, as well as it robust search, document filters, intuitive review interface, uniquely enables targeted and contextual search, preservation and export of SharePoint evidence in its native format. In fact we believe it is the only solution available that enables true in-place early case assessment and eDiscovery review of SharePoint sites, including iterative search, tagging and full fidelity preview in place, without the requirement to first export all of the data out of the Platform.

To learn more, sign on to the recorded webinar or please contact us at info@x1discovery.com for a further briefing to learn how to save your organization or your clients tens of thousands of dollars on litigation costs associated with SharePoint.

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Filed under Best Practices, eDiscovery & Compliance, Enterprise eDiscovery, Information Management