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Can Electronic Data Discovery be Supported under a SaaS Delivery Model?

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Can Electronic Data Discovery be Supported under a SaaS Delivery Model?

With the Size of the Electronic Data Discovery (EDD) Market continuing to grow at an accelerating rate (Socha Survey Results from 2007) and therefore the overall cost of EDD processing also continuing to rise, I have been investigating the markets appetite for a less expensive and more efficient EDD solution that is delivered via a Software-as-a-Solution (SaaS) model.

History, EDD has been the domain of the big box service bureau that processed your data and sent you back the results. This model has been working very well for a number of years and have made several of these vendors very wealthy. And, for the most part, any lawyer with even a medium amount of ESI for any case of any size monetarily, has relied on the big providers in this market to get their work done. As the old saying goes for deciding which vendor to choose, "you are never going to loose your job for choosing IBM or in this case one of the big established service bureaus in the EDD processing space". However, it is my opinion that the technology behind these solutions is old, required a tremendous amount of hand holding and is in need of a complete rewrite.

As an alternative, brave users, smaller service providers and EDD consultants have also had the the option to take on this task themselves locally. The have been able to purchase a software license and an annual maintenance agreement, purchase and setup a local computer or computer network, attend extensive training classes and then attempt to complete EDD processing themselves. This model seems to be working for end users and third party service providers for projects with small amounts of data and not too many technical complications. However, I have to admit that I have talked to several users in this category over the past six (6) months that have expressed concerns about the legal liabilities that now come with processing EDD yourself or even as a service provider (i.e. when it is not your primary business).

So, with these two alternatives firmly entrenched and the cost of EDD processing continuing to rise across the board, I have wonder what the markets appetite for a less expensive and more efficient EDD solution that is delivered via a Software-as-a-Solution (SaaS) model?

After talking to hundreds of lawyers from law firms and the legal departments of their Fortune 1000 clients, I have come to the conclusion that there there is indeed an appetite for a "next generation", less expensive and easier to use EDD solution. However, when I have posed this same question to litigation technologists and the IT departments of these same Fortune 1000 clients, I have been met with skepticism regarding the ability of the current state of technology to support a truly SaaS based EDD solution. The main concerns seem to fit into one of the following categories:

1. The physical capabilities of efficiently moving massive amounts of data over the Internet.

2. Security concerns regarding SaaS solutions (as I have previously posted on this Blog, I believe that any security concerns regarding SaaS are completed unfounded and to a certain extent rooted in urban legend).

3. The appetite of any of the current big box service bureaus to disrupt their current models by introducing a new solution.

4. The financial investment it would take for a new vendor with a SaaS based solution to make to unseat the current leading vendors in EDD market.

5. The real financial value of building an EDD solutions on the SaaS model.

There is no doubt that these are all legitimate concerns that would need to be addressed by anyone planning to enter this market with a SaaS based EDD solution. However, I believe that some of the answers have already been address with the emergence of the email achieving solutions and I think that I have at least a plausible answer to the remaining questions.

I plan to post my answers over the next week. But, before I do, I would encourage feedback so that I could incorporate your answers and comments into my next post on this subject.

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At April 22, 2008 at 3:17 PM , Blogger Jim said...

SaaS will most definitely take off in the EDD space when you consider that more and more corporate data lives on SaaS providers (think and Google Apps), often without the buy-in from IT. This is another example of the impact of Web 2.0 on corporate investigations we are covering on the Enterprise Investigation Management Blog.


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