Entries from August 2008 ↓

E-discovery: the results are in – for now

We’ve knuckled down on our upcoming e-discovery report – thanks for the many responses to the blog post. Even though e-discovery has been around for years, the current market activity proves the party’s just beginning – and it’s going to be a barn-burner.

As we saw a few weeks ago with Interwoven’s acquisition of Discovery Mining (log-in required), SaaS is emerging as a viable option, and may be a playing-field leveler for smaller vendors. Also last week, PwC and Iron Mountain / Stratify announced a strategic e-discovery partnership. Then yesterday IBM released its new E-discovery Manager for its content management and email archiving platforms – 451 clients can expect upcoming coverage.

There are a number of established tier-one players. But where there are large players, there is room for smaller alternatives. And because some large vendors, consultants and services firms are playing catch-up in the boom, there is still plenty of potential for acquisition, particularly because the e-discovery process covers several disparate areas of technology: email archiving, storage, records management, search and text analysis. In this race, the market is just hitting its stride, there are probably too many vendors vying for the business and the players shift frequently.

The latest Socha-Gelbmann survey results bear this out. They’ve swelled the ranks of “Top electronic discovery software providers” from 11 to 15 overall. Autonomy and Clearwell have reached the top tier, along with incumbents FTI Consulting, Guidance Software, Inc. and LexisNexis. Of the second tier, 2006 winners Cataphora, DocuLex, ISYS and Oracle are out entirely, Attenex (recently acquired by FTI) and CT Summation are down from tier one, and Epiq systems, iConect and Symantec are first timers to the list. Third tier is all new for the category: AccessData Corporation, Equivio, Kazeon Systems, Inc., Kroll Ontrack and MetaLINCS (owned by Seagate) – note that many of these were previously present on other best-of’s for service or specific software type.

Socha-Gelbmann does offer the caveat that “anyone who makes buying decisions primarily on these rankings is a fool,” although we haven’t seen the quote included in many vendor press releases.

So how then do software purchasers choose a vendor, and what does it mean for the market? We plan to address these questions in our upcoming e-discovery report, in which we’ll be looking at a number of users, vendors and service providers with a range of experience and across sectors, keeping our collective eye on new developments and a view of where the market is headed from here.

What we can tell you as a preview is that it’s exciting to watch such a dynamic market. Now that more companies are becoming familiar with the demands of storing, managing, searching and producing Electronically Stored Information (ESI), they’re no longer buying nick-of-time service. The new standards of the amended Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) are not a one-time inconvenience, but require a legally-defensible methodology and the speed to produce on-demand in a number of days. Users are investing in long-term plans for all types of litigation. IT is developing comprehensive strategies for approaching various ESI repositories. Preventive measures are available for monitoring ESI distribution in potentially litigious areas – stopping trouble before it starts in high-litigation operations. These developments are reflected in corporate structure, where IT and legal have more overlap and greater cross-functionality.

Stakes are high, the time-frames for discovery are short – one services exec told us “fast in this business is FAST” – the competition is crowded, and the need is ubiquitous. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation with many of you – and if you have yet to get in touch, please do so.