I am going to start this post with a personal confession. I was bullied as a kid. His name was Colonel, as if he were an 8-year-old Army officer. He and his goons would take my slushy money every afternoon at summer camp. For the time we were at camp together, I can count on one hand the amount of times I tasted that sweet sugary nectar. Don’t get me wrong, I loved summer camp and went back for many years. If I had to pay two slushies per day to be there, or avoid the stand altogether, so be it.
But enough with my pity party… what does bullying have to do with archiving?
Consider your current eDiscovery workflow. How many separate solutions are a part of this process? I have had conversations with a particular GC who has one or more “point solutions” for every section of the EDRM. That is 12 different solutions that this company pays per gigabyte to use. This pricing model is genius, it guarantees a constant revenue stream for point solution vendors. I could avoid the slushy stand, but companies cannot avoid the courtroom. Repetitively paying to move data from one solution to another is like paying Colonel and his friends, Ace, Brutus, Thad, and Ajax separately each time I go for a slushy. I thought that I had a problem with bullies, but it’s clear I still have something to learn from contemporary legal departments.
Fear not, the archiving industry is here to protect you. A trend has emerged from companies who have successfully abandoned the point solution approach in favor of greener pastures. By consolidating their eDiscovery process into one end-to-end solution, they have successfully eliminated the need for point solutions. Aside from the obvious cost savings, these companies were better able to maintain chain of custody, perform faster searches, and go to one place to discover all electronically-stored information (ESI).
This is done in one of two ways: reactively and proactively. The reactive approach caters to companies with less litigation, crawling different data sources to retrieve custodians’ ESI and bring it into the archive after notice of a lawsuit has been received. Although reactive eDiscovery is less common, it is a viable solution for generally smaller companies who do not value a centralized repository for their unstructured data. The proactive approach is geared toward larger companies whose legal teams are constantly under the gun. In this scenario, all of a company’s information is collected and managed in the archive prior to notice of litigation, meaning that, with a few legal holds, they have identified, preserved, and collected all of the relevant information for the case.
This is where flexibility comes into play: Companies who practice the proactive eDiscovery approach can even use their normal review tools and point solutions for workflow purposes while still receiving major cost and time savings, if they so choose. By managing the information up front they export less data from the archive due to deduplication, saving incredible amounts of money from point solutions and outside counsel. Legal teams also have the ability to perform early case assessment (ECA) right within the archive; so with the right search engine, a company can decide whether to fight or settle within hours. As one GC once told me, “Business law isn’t about winning or losing. It is about winning and losing early.”
Legal budgets are core components of business strategy: not mere slushy money to be fought over. Stop giving up your legal budget to point solution bullies. There are many ways to fight back, whether it be limiting the amount you give away or fighting back with a radically different approach. It’s time to think about long-term goals and outcomes of information governance, rather than being pushed around for your last bits of spare change. We’ve even set up a technology bullying hotline, to (anonymously) help those in need: just call (408)-240-8989… and ask for Lyons.
In the end, my personal struggle with Colonel may have ended like the Battle of Thermopylae. However, there’s hope for others, and a lesson to be learned. I have a hard time believing that any savvy business would suffer physical consequences for confronting their technology tormenters. There’s no reason to allow your slushy money to pad their slush funds. It’s time to take a stand. Who knows… they may even beg you to stay.