If you are anything like me, you get 10-100 emails per day with eDiscovery press announcements, marketing blasts, webinars and more. Back in 2008 I built a Google CSE to manage the firehose of information and make sure that I kept up with the market. The original eDiscoveryJournal.com used that search engine to create a feed that we culled, curated, classified and commented on. We used that engine for our market research and to power features of the eDJMatrix, but stopped publishing the RSS feed back in 2011. Luckily for your, several peers are now doing a good job with news (Doug Austin’s eDiscovery Today) and caselaw (Kelly Twigger’s eDiscovery Assistant). Returning to my roots, I find myself more interested in starting discussions on news items. The email below for Agnes Intel hit my box and I thought it useful to relay how I try to validate and understand the often vague and confusing marketing language. The quote that caught my eye was:
“Effectively eliminate any need for manual review”
How many times have you seen this claim since Predictive Coding/Technology Assisted Review/Active Learning hit the eDiscovery market? That kind of language trips my BS detector, but sometimes there is fire where I smell smoke. My first job was to run down the 5W1H:
- What – The email does a better job of explaining that they are selling a solution to tackle audio/video collections than their website. It does not tell you if they are selling on premise software, cloud instances or delivering the solution as a service. I am betting on the latter. A personal pet peeve are websites loaded with videos that do not give me an alternate text option. Frankly I read much faster than a fancy voice over video. Right off the bat I know that they are offering A/V processing and analytics. Better marketing job than many startups.
- Who – The NY address sent me straight to the NY business search that turned up two entities formed in Jan 2018 and later in Oct 2019. My interpretation is that the founders locked down the initial LLC in 2018 and then took a round of angel investment last last year, which is how their new marketing campaign found me. The next Who step is to read through the exec team and board member pages. I get excited to see startups actually list these in full. Many do not have the confidence to show who is behind a service or product. Checking a few of the key players in LinkedIn/Google/etc. shows a team with tech experience, but light on actual eDiscovery market depth (expecting Chief Architect from Digital Ocean).
- Where – The NY address leads us to the founder’s firm (established in 2010). So it is likely that this tech was born to meet the needs of one or more large matters with a heavy audio/video load. Most of our foundational legal technology were spun up out of law firms (Summation, Attenex and more). I would rather see an eDiscovery startup coming from a litigation firm or a service provider than a VC backed silicon valley genius who has never been deposed.
- When – The NY filings and their About page tell us that they decided to convert their in-house tools to an actual offering early 2018. There is a huge difference between a collection of custom tools and a packaged product ready to go to market. The short ramp up time tells me that they probably only have a few early adopter customers and limited consulting/support staff. That is not always a negative as long as you do not expect or need them.
- Why – Everyone who has been forced to develop a custom solution to a pain point that affects their market has to chose between supporting a unique technology stack or taking it to market so that others share the burden of evolving tech. Yes, Agnes Intelligence wants to make money. But more importantly they HAVE to take it to the market to justify ongoing development and keep it at the cutting edge of the market.
- How – The email and site proclaim that Agnes was built with IBM Watson AI. Although the new company does not show up in the IBM partner directory, they did take 4th place in the 2018 IBMWatson Build competition. Like Autonomy IDOL, Watson has a reputation with pros and cons. Developers have used the engine to create some very impressive and creative solutions. It can also be tricky and give unexpected results when the GUI feeds it inconsistent input decisions. My main take away here is that Agnes is based on IBM rather than being internally developed. They are unlikely to have strong patents that would attract early M&A or VC interest before they build a real market presence.
In the end, my efforts following up the marketing email gave me a decent understanding of a new solution that a client might need. Most importantly, I did not have to send in my contact information or burn an hour in a sales demo to understand their market role and context. Could my interpretations be off? Of course they could be. Before I mentioned them to a client struggling with a hard drive full of voice mail or skype meeting recordings I would do a briefing. Mainly I caught myself running through Barry Murphy’s recommended background checks and thought that it would be fun to share the methodology now that I am out of the ‘market analyst’ business. Love to hear your thoughts on the offering, alternative investigation sites/tools and whether you are actually seeing A/V ESI in your collections. I am not seeing it in client matters other than broker/dealers, but every market vertical has their own challenges.
Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at Greg@eDJGroupInc.com. Contact him directly for a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients.
Greg’s blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment or advice. Greg is no longer a journalist and all perspectives are based on best public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being posted. Do you want to share your own perspective? Greg is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations.