Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Barry Murphy. Published: 2011-05-05 10:02:51Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. Software vendors tend to be out a bit in front of a market in order to be well-positioned to capitalize when customer requirements mature.  That’s why it was interesting to see Greg Buckle’s report from the Symantec Vision conference that eDiscovery is a major part of Symantec’s strategy going forward.  The company is combining eDiscovery, data loss prevention, and encryption in an offering it defines as information governance.  Other large software vendors couple eDiscovery offerings with content and records management, storage, and search offerings.  From a market perspective, the reality is that eDiscovery is recognized as a major component of information governance.  This creates some pragmatic challenges for enterprises that want to address eDiscovery challenges today, though.

Moves by large software vendors to couple eDiscovery offerings into larger information governance portfolios signal that legal, IT, and security teams will need to partner with business units to enable smooth information management and governance.  Enterprises will need to be able to seamlessly create, store, protect, provide access to, and dispose of information.  Easier said than done, right?  Long-term information management projects do little to help the legal, litigation support, and IT staff run ragged by reactive eDiscovery fire-fights.  What can these organizations do today while the immature solutions market sorts itself out?  The best way to look at eDiscovery is as another business process to manage.  And that means balancing short-term needs with longer-term strategic decisions (such as an information management infrastructure).

We’ll be doing more research and writing on the topic of managing the eDiscovery business process, and we have a webinar coming up that you can attend for free.  The basic premise here is that organizations must:

–       Define Their eDiscovery Process: there are many steps underneath the EDRM abstract process model, some of which an organization may have the wherewithal to execute and some of which they may not.  Each company must decided what pieces of the process they want to own and how those pieces will fit together and flow.  Once defined, it’s critical to bring some level of workflow and automation to the process.

–       Get alignment of the team players: it’s a subject we’ve likely beaten over the head, but the reality is that assigning responsibilities to the right players is a critical element of success.

–       Think centralization:  while some kind of organizational uber-repository is wishful thinking, a centralized interface across enterprise information is critical to taking control of the process.  Say goodbye to the days of working with scattered spreadsheets for legal holds.  Instead, look to have a strong integration framework to connect to various data sources.  Integrating key metrics into such a centralized interface enables early decision-making and better scenario planning.

In looking at solutions, be aware that this is a consolidating market.  Buying 10 point solutions makes less sense that it would have a decade ago.  More and more vendors have created more holistic eDiscovery platforms that can handle more and more aspects of the process.  While there isn’t a silver bullet out there just yet, there are many vendors that can help organizations manage 80% of what they need to do.  Purchasing from fewer vendors helps ease complexity – both from a process perspective and an IT management perspective.  Just be sure that the solution you pick today has flexibility to fit into the information management strategy of tomorrow.  We’re currently diving more deeply into these topics.  Feel free to comment on this post to share your perspective or email me to talk further privately.

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