December 13, 2012

Forecast 2013-Is It E-Discovery Or Business Intelligence

© 2012 Cary J. Calderone, Esq

One thing I find baffling about data management is how applications are categorized.  I am not referring to classifications like private versus public cloud, or CRM versus Social.  But rather, the distinction between Business Intelligence and E-Discovery, and Record and Information Management.  BI has been popular and is viewed as a vitamin that can help boost sales and profits.  On the other end of the technology spectrum, we have RIM and E-Discovery.  When it comes to these unloved step-children of the corporate world, companies usually have to be dragged towards making the investment.  These are all pro-active and reactive tools for gleaning knowledge from your data.  But while RIM and E-Discovery are avoided, BI is relatively popular.  And, here is my argument:  Both types of applications are not really that different.  Let me explain.

On the one hand, BI uses technology to track and analyze electronic information to save costs and increase revenue.  Companies have been willing to spend money on BI solutions to mine mass amounts of electronic data to improve the supply chain, customer offerings, customer management, and anything else that affects revenue or costs.  There is no question that companies that invest in BI, realize quantifiable advantages.

On the other hand, E-Discovery and RIM technology helps manage electronic information to save costs and achieve more positive litigation results.  RIM solutions are targeted for compliance, litigation, and investigations-aspirin, if you will.  But there is definitely something lacking in the sales cycle. When it comes to RIM and E-Discovery solutions, executives frequently delay purchases (see head in sand blog post) and bet that they will not get hit with a legal matter that might expose their poorly managed electronic systems.  Accordingly, these solutions seem too expensive to deploy and hard to  justify as an item in the budget.  After all, this is to protect against a problem that may not happen.

Can you really see the difference between these solutions?  I don't.  I refer to this as my 2013 prediction, but it really is something I have been questioning for 5 years.   On some level, E-Discovery and RIM are nothing more than another form of BI.  Both rely on computer assisted review of data, and meta-data, and social data, and return results in a way that can be analyzed.  The intended use of the final results is different, but that is about all.

The December/January 2013 issue of Executive Counsel Magazine has a great article written by Mark Walker that describes how companies should use information management to reduce E-Discovery costs.  This theme has been covered extensively on this blog.  Even with great E-Discovery search and collection tools, being able to point them more accurately and precisely leads to fewer lawyer hours culling and reviewing, and results in a less expensive and better outcome.  Great!  Now we can just add these benefits to the others on the list in support of using BI.  Then you can have one total BI solution that will perform RIM and E-Discovery too.  It is still about crunching data, but there will be features added so it will sort, manage and collect the information in a manner deemed authentic for production in legal proceedings.

The race is on.  I cannot predict whether the best BI search tool will add forensic collection trail capabilities or, whether E-Discovery products like Autonomy or Guidance, will enhance their BI analytics to bridge the gap, but I do not think these types of applications will remain separate categories for long.


Anonymous said...

Add Forensic Search to the mix.

It too is a form of BI.

Enjoyed the article.

Anonymous said...

I agree, you can add the growing field of Forensic Search.

Also fits your comments.

Laura Zubulake said...


I couldn't agree more. My case was in fact more of an information governance case, than an e-discovery case. In Debra Logan’s review of my book, she wrote, in part: “Zubulake’s e-Discovery showed me how advantageous it is to understand the importance of information, information technology, and information policy in the modern corporation. Laura Zubulake’s understanding of the centrality of information and the value of information enabled her to eventually prevail against a corporate opponent who had overwhelming advantages.” Debra’s full review is posted on