Tag Archives: X1 Social Discovery

Social Discovery: An Interview With Howard Williamson

This week’s blog is something new for X1 – a Q & A with Howard Williamson, the General Manager for X1’s market leading Social Discovery product.  Howard is an experienced digital forensics expert and began his career in law enforcement, which gives him a unique perspective on the practice of social discovery.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Howard this week on what is a very hot topic – social discovery.

Why Social Discovery?

Howard:  I remember back in the mid-1990’s there was a real feeling of excitement around digital forensics.  It was the cutting edge of the forensics field and the work was really fun.  Social media is now what digital forensics was in the mid to late 1990s – it’s the cutting edge of where investigation and intelligence is right now.  The work is fun because there are lots of challenges; the fun part is taking the practice from good to great.  That is what attracted me to the opportunity at X1 – because X1 Social Discovery can make the practice great because the product addresses the challenges of defensibly collecting a high volume, diverse data set like social media.

How does the law enforcement background complement this role?

Howard:  Ultimately, the goal of social discovery is to collect data in a manner that allows it to be used in criminal or civil litigation.  Knowing how that process works is critical.  The law enforcement background gives that experience of defensible collection across many different types of digital evidence.  And, on the criminal side of things, the standards of defensibility are quite high, so carrying that over to the civil side means that X1 will always meet high authenticity standards.  I bring that high bar from the digital forensics world to this brave new world of social media.

What’s new about this practice?
Howard:  The nice thing about now versus the mid-1990s is that we are now using purpose-built tools like X1 Social Discovery rather than co-opting system administration and network tools like we did in the early days of computer forensics.  That makes the Modern evidenceprocess more efficient and more complete.
Rather than using a sledgehammer to put a nail in, we are using a hammer.  The tool is built specifically for social discovery and therefore makes the practice more efficient.  Whereas in the early days of digital forensics, collection procedures where often made up on the fly, with Social Discovery, the approach is much more structured and systematic.  At X1, with our experience, we are certainly able to think and react on the fly to new challenges, but with a purpose-built tool, we can do so much more efficiently.  And, in the eDiscovery world, efficiency and defensibility are two very important things.

Are you seeing social discovery specialists pop up? 

Howard:  What we are seeing is that digital forensics professionals and intelligence professionals are implementing social discovery into their processes and procedures.  There are not “specialists” in social media; rather, the social discovery tool allows more people to collect this type of data as part of a broader job.  They are also doing things like mobile forensics and other digital forensics.  Thus, X1 Social Discovery has become an important tool in their toolkit.  The tool actually makes it easier to bring social media content into the collection because the professional doesn’t have to dive deep into things like mobile operating systems.  It becomes easier to be an expert in social collection because the product makes it simple to collect and analyze.

Do you think that Social discovery is a mainstream practice now?

Howard:  It absolutely is.  The evidence of that is our business.  X1 has nearly 500 paid install sites and nearly 4,000 end users conducting social discovery.  These users got ahead of the curve and have social media integrated into their processes.  The growth opportunity is still huge because it is inevitable that case law will force everyone to take social media more seriously, in the way that the Enron case put a spotlight on electronic discovery in general.  Law enforcement got the importance of social media evidence early on.  Even though a more typically cautious industry, police departments see that social media is a critical form of evidence and have built it into collection processes.  This is how most areas of forensics have evolved.   There is an attitude that, if it’s good enough for criminal law, it’s good enough for civil court.  That is part of what’s exciting for X1 – we have a great base of law enforcement customers putting the product through the paces.  X1 Social Discovery is truly battle-tested and no other solution works quite as well.  We are nicely positioned as the social discovery leader in a mainstream market with high growth potential.

What should we look for in the next year of social discovery?

Howard:  I would expect to see the big social networks continue to gain traction.  I don’t foresee a new behemoth social network to challenge the popularity of Facebook and Twitter.  From an app perspective, self-destructing messaging looks to remain popular as privacy becomes more of a concern.  Forensics will play a large role in determining whether those messages are truly destroyed or actually discoverable.

X1 will continue to build out connectors to more and more social networks and improve reporting and deliverables.  There will be more ability to analyze the data within the investigation platform.   What X1 wants to enable is people to do their jobs within a given workflow.  Some users will want to collect and review social media directly within X1, and the tools enables them to do that.  Others have examiners collect the data, but then move to a review tool where litigators can look at it.

Big thanks to Howard Williamson for sharing his time with us.  If you have questions about social discovery, please contact us at info@x1.com for more information.

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Catch Howard’s lecture at HTCIA’s Annual Conference, Tuesday, August 26, where he will cover Social Media Collection and Review >

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Best Practices, Social Media Investigations, Uncategorized

Social Discovery’s Time Is Now

by Barry Murphy

social discoveryThe 80/20 rule tends to apply in all aspects of life, and it is certainly applying to social discovery, at least in terms of who “gets it” and who doesn’t.  I say that because, when I talk to folks about social discovery, about 80% of them feel that it is a fringe issue that will be something to deal with in the distant future.  Only 20% realize that social discovery is happening now and that getting ahead of the curve presents a huge opportunity.

On the surface, it would seem problematic that so few embrace the realities that social media is here to stay in the business world.  According to Forrester Research’s The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2013, US, “consumers of all age groups use social networking. From the 85% of Gen Zers to the 57% of the Golden Generation who visit Facebook at least monthly, social networking is ingrained in the Internet experience for all generations. Consumers use social media to interact with companies, too. The average US online Facebook user “likes” 14 brands on Facebook, while almost seven out of 10 social networkers engage with brands on social media.”  That social media content is discoverable is not up for debate; the argument tends to be around whether actual social discovery is mainstream yet.

The proactive management (e.g. archiving) of social media is not yet a mainstream practice in US enterprises.  In talking to a colleague at an archiving vendor, the primary reason for this is cost.  Yes, there is a lack of maturity in policies (both usage and retention) and a fear that simply journaling social media into an archive will just bloat digital landfills, but the primary issue is cost.  This is because most of the solutions for capturing social media into an archive are hosted and have recurring subscription and storage fees.  As a result, the starting cost – just to add social media to an archive – is over $25,000.  For most enterprises, that additional cost is a non-starter.

Just because proactive management of social media is not mainstream does not mean that social discovery as a practice is not.  I can look at the sales numbers for X1’s Social Discovery (X1SD) product and tell you that the growth rate is such that it is clear the practice is widespread.  I have also heard from service providers that are doing over 30 Facebook collections per week.  To me, that indicates that social discovery is a mainstream practice.  With X1SD, the cost issue is averted because the starting cost is less than $1,500.  Plus, the filtering capabilities allow investigators to only pass potentially relevant content downstream in the eDiscovery lifecycle.  And, being a desktop install means that no custody or control issues will pop up (especially important in the law enforcement use-case).

Most of the coverage of social media tools focus on the marketing use-cases – for example enterprise listening platforms and social relationship platforms.  Those use-cases serve important business functions, but discovery platforms need to meet a higher standard.  They need to show defensibility and have great control over custody of the data.  With such capabilities in place and in use today, it is only a matter of time before enterprises connect the dots and begin addressing social discovery with as much discipline as they do collection of email and other enterprise content.

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Get Ready for Hybrid Search

by Barry Murphy

In the tech world, everyone is on the lookout for the next big thing.  Everyone wants to be at the edge of innovation.  In my role here at X1, I talk to our partner ecosystem about myriad issues and topics, constantly taking the temperature of the market.  A lot of topics have good traction right now:

  • There is huge interest in the Social Discovery product and that business continues to grow.  In fact, I would argue that social media discovery is the most exciting topic in the eDiscovery world and generating far more business and activity than any other segment of the market.
  • Customers deploying virtual desktop (VDI) environments are excited by the Search 8 Virtual Edition, which allows them to provide great search experiences for business workers while also disabling Windows indexing (a best practice in desktop virtualization in order to conserve virtual resources).
  • With the growth of the Cloud and more and more enterprises storing active data in Cloud-based repositories, the ability to search data in the cloud is a hot topic.  But, as I wrote about previously, cloud search is not necessarily as simple as just creating a connector.  We continue to see X1’s ability to deploy in the cloud as a driving force behind deals.

No topic, however, turns as many heads as hybrid search.  When I talk to people about our product set, heads nod and they see the value.  After a few minutes, the “aha moment” occurs.  I don’t even have to say the term – my conversation partner will say to me, “wait, so you can enable search across both on-premise and cloud environments…you can do hybrid search.”  It feels to me like hybrid search is one of those “next big things.”  To have so many diverse people, from different business sectors really dig in to a conversation on hybrid search gives me all the proof I need to know that we are on to something here.

Take a look at the following screenshot.  The beauty lies in the simplicity – one single pane of glass to a business worker’s most critical information assets.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

No need to switch around between applications.  No need to search Outlook for email, then log into Box to search for files stored there.  It is a single interface to search for information, no matter where it lives.  And that kind of interface fits the workflow of business workers.  That drives tremendous value – that is why everyone gets the importance of hybrid search, and why it is the next big thing as far as I am concerned.

 

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Filed under Cloud Data, Desktop Search, Enterprise Search, Hybrid Search, Social Media Investigations