Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2010-12-28 06:34:39Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. So what is a ‘white paper’? Wikipedia says that they are authoritative reports or guides on a specific issue, which sounds great. Just ‘below the fold’ on the definition we find that since the 1990’s, ‘commercial white papers’ have become marketing or sales tools designed to promote a specific company’s solutions or products. I think that the eDiscovery market is cynical enough to understand the embedded perspective of most white papers. This bias or perspective does not invalidate the content of good papers, but it does force the reader to filter and interpret carefully. Don’t get me wrong here, I have contributed my share of commissioned white papers to the body of eDiscovery perspective. Every one was a bit of a struggle with the ‘client’ to keep my content free of market messaging. It was exactly this kind of ethical and professional conflict that drove us to create eDiscoveryJournal in the first place.

I have been giving this a lot of thought recently because we are finally ready to launch an ongoing series of eDiscoveryJournal research reports for sale. So what makes our ‘reports’ any different from the deluge of white papers that providers are giving away to prospective customers? Fundamentally, a marketing white paper starts with a position or conclusion, then works backwards to validate it. It was created to generate sales leads, attack competitors or otherwise support the sale process. Most white papers are three to five pages in length and few contain any original hard technical or even market data. All of this does not make them worthless. There are nuggets of gold buried within the mountains of marketing dross. Most authors have impressive experience. They work hard to transmit real best practice while staying on message.

We wanted to break out of the white paper trap, especially after having experienced the freedom of writing these journal entries. So we use questions from consulting clients, comments on our entries and interesting articles from the eDJ news stream to inspire a list of open research topics. We try to write a couple entries on a potential research topic to see if it has legs and whether it generates feedback. In the best of all worlds, a consulting client will support some of the research time. Several of my corporate legal department clients asked my opinion on Exchange 2010’s new eDiscovery and archiving features. Their IT departments were considering either putting off an archiving implementation or including Exchange 2010 in a RFP process. I was able to line up enough hours between them to justify a cursory installation and scenario test with the evaluation version. The initial results inspired me to invest a lot more of my own time to dig into some puzzling results (hold and deduplication mechanisms). That time eventually translated into an 85 page report without any attached marketing agenda.

Research, testing and writing take time. Time is money. As you read white papers, Sedona Commentaries, EDRM papers and hopefully eDJ Research Reports, take the time to figure out who funded the document. If you understand any implicit bias or marketing message, then you can remove the rose tinted glasses and glean the nuggets of truth contained within.

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