Challenged by the Old and New, Corporate E-Discovery Hits a Wall

A survey by Osterman Research finds many corporations are unable to retain, produce and search through much of their internal data given depending on its age, type and where it's stored.

Many corporations are struggling to meet the demands of e-discovery requests placed upon the data they store in-house, the “Key Issues for E-Discovery and Legal Compliance” report by Osterman Research found. The report surveyed 137 IT professionals in organizations across multiple industries, with each organization handling an average of 75 e-discovery requests over the past 12 months.

Forty percent of those surveyed expect these requests to increase over the next 12 months, while 45 percent expect them to remain unchanged. While around half of respondents said their organizations are well prepared to handle e-discovery requests dealing with content stored in databases (56 percent), archive solutions (52 percent) or employee calendars (50 percent), most were far less prepared to handle requests on content stored in most other data repositories.

Only 44 percent, for example, said they were well prepared when dealing with content stored on Office 365, while 40 percent were prepared for content stored on corporate-owned mobile devices, and 20 percent for content stored by employees on cloud-systems or employee-owned mobile devices.

Most companies were also unable to store, retain or produce disparate forms of data, with only 39 percent saying they could do so for word processing, spreadsheet or presentation files, and 18 percent for instant messaging data.

Bill Tolson, vice president of marketing at Archive360, said organizations were challenged by many of these types of internal data because they are not generally on companies’ radars.

“The problem is that companies tend to not manage or track their employees when it comes to how they generate store or manage their data,” he said. “The only data they actually try to control is that data they consider a business record, something that is potentially or probably susceptible to regulatory compliance. But the vast majority of content within a corporate enterprise, 90 to 95 percent is just work files and stuff that is not necessarily a corporate record. And companies don’t try to track that stuff, and they don’t manage it.”

In addition to being challenged by new data sources, many respondents also said their organizations would run into trouble responding to e-discovery requests depending on the age of the data involved. While at least 80 percent said their organization was at least well prepared to retain, find and produce email content that was up one month old, only slightly more than half (57 percent), were similarly prepared when dealing with emails that were over six months old.

Farid Vij, lead information governance specialist at ZL Technologies, noted that the relationship between the age of email content and the difficultly of retaining and producing it was because of a Catch-22 situation many organizations find themselves in when dealing with modern corporate data. As organizations become more occupied with managing growing amounts of new and diverse data created in-house, they “take [their] eye off of defensible disposition” with emails and begin to reactively store all their old email content.

But as the volumes of email content grow unhindered, it becomes more and more difficult to manage. Modern e-discovery technology is “simply not able to scale to that volume to give enterprises the ability to search through that old email [content] to really identify the key pieces,” Vij said.

By the time many corporations realize this, he added, it is far too late. “It becomes this vicious cycle, where the more data there is, the harder it is to search for it and identify individual data sets you need, and if a corporation can’t do that, they can’t delete it, so the problems proliferate.”

To prevent such a quagmire, Vij advised corporations to create information governance processes that are not just focused “on just data access,” but also on focused how they can keep “track of the data [they] do not need to keep.”

Originally published on LegalTech News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Rhys Dipshan

Rhys Dipshan is a journalist who covers in-house tech issues from early disruption to ghosts in the machine for Legal Tech News, The National Law...

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