Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2014-10-13 20:00:00Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. 

My apologies for anyone who could not access the site last week. The legacy eDiscoveryJournal.com WordPress site was under attack and it took us quite a while to track down the resource drain. It was a big week for eDiscovery related M&A announcements. In brief; Microsoft is buying Equivio, Symantec is splitting, HP is splitting and Epiq facing a potential proxy fight. What’s next? Will IBM spin off Watson after pumping so much into it? You could say that MSFT is following their usual conservative go-to-market strategy by allowing smaller players innovate and take the risks of ‘jumping the maturity gap’. Symantec, HP and IBM all made eDiscovery acquisitions 2-4 years back. From my personal perspective, the acquired eDiscovery products (Clearwell, Autonomy and PSS Atlas/StoredIQ) all lost brand awareness and development momentum while being integrated into larger product portfolios. The Symantec/HP splits seem to buck the market consolidation trend until you look closer at the dividing lines drawn within each technology collective (everyone fears the Borg).

Symantec says that it is splitting into two public companies, effectively separating the cyber-security and enterprise data management divisions. This move makes me remember short-term Symantec CEO Steve Bennett’s Vision 2013 keynote speech. He clearly called out the need to integrate siloed products and business units. I guess that his successors decided that it was healthier to split the company. I hope this move re-invigorates the legacy Veritas and KVS enterprise data management products.

HP draws the line between their PC/printers (HP Inc.) and enterprise products (HP Enterprise). It makes me wonder if the indigestion from the Autonomy acquisition has factored into this split or if that is just a side note in the face of changing markets. If these two mammoth splits can be done right, corporate customers should get specialist reps with a focused set of products and see product management with more discretion to respond to market input. Of course, titanic ships of commerce do not turn on a dime, so do not expect any of this quickly or painlessly.

The Microsoft acquisition has a much greater potential impact on the eDiscovery market if Equivio Zoom functionality can be hosted in the Azure/Office 365 environment as a cloud Saas offering. Microsoft has a track record of introducing new functionality for free or minimal cost (Yammer, SharePoint eDiscovery Center and more).  It is my bet that Microsoft will be focused on the potential Information Governance usage cases  such as retention designation, ROT remediation, PII flagging and EU privacy management over the short term eDiscovery integration. Zoom for ‘free’ on Office 365 could be disruptive to the eDiscovery market, but the real value proposition lies in taming Big Data.

It has been my perception that the eDiscovery market has never been kind to leading providers who go public. Publicly traded eDiscovery companies are few and diverse, so this is more of an ad hoc observation. Recent articles make it clear that key shareholders have strong opinions on Epiq Systems strategic alternatives in this market. It will be worth watching this play out as an indicator on whether the eDiscovery market really will consolidate to a few giant providers or whether it will regress to smaller concierge service providers managing eDiscovery functions baked into customer’s enterprise IG infrastructure.

Greg Buckles can be reached at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com for offline comment, questions or consulting. His active research topics include analytics, mobile device discovery, the discovery impact of the cloud, Microsoft’s 2013 eDiscovery Center and multi-matter discovery. Recent consulting engagements include managing preservation during enterprise migrations, legacy tape eliminations, retention enablement and many more. Blog market perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment.

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