The eDiscovery Gap You Aren’t Thinking About, Where Context is King

by Aware HQ, on 8/31/18 1:12 PM

Settlement strategies and trial outcomes—in some cases—hinge on the burden, costs and potential pitfalls surrounding surfacing relevant data for a case. Electronic Discovery (eDiscovery) is the practice of identifying, collecting and producing electronically stored information in response to a request for presentation in a lawsuit or investigation.

A Key eDiscovery Gap: Workplace Collaboration & Enterprise Social Networks

Any electronic information is potentially subject to eDiscovery, including text messages, social media posts and data in collaboration tools such as Slack, Workplace by Facebook, Microsoft Teams and Yammer. Osterman research reports that only 12% feel they could handle eDiscovery for online applications.

Sometimes leaders say, “Oh, well that’s collaboration and since it’s more informal, employees should be free to say what they would like on the platform.”

But the reality is, if these tools are company-sponsored, then the organization owns—and is liable for—the communication data on the tool. They are subject to the obligation of searching, discovering, and presenting the content in the event of an investigation. Collaboration data is sometimes the most abundant and unstructured in an enterprise, with data being produced with every communication keystroke—including comments, reactions, posts and messages.

Not only that, employees simply speak more casually and candid on enterprise collaboration platforms than on other communication tools (e.g. email), and so neglecting relevant collaboration data (especially private messages!) in an investigative situation could be the difference between winning and losing a settlement or trial.

Start with an Archive

In order to have electronic communications ready and accessible for search and discovery—they need to be stored. This is why companies in regulated industries often must keep all communication records for a mandated period of time (e.g. 7 years).

So, it’s important to archive all electronic communications. That includes workplace communication and enterprise social network communication content.

Of course, the right archiving solution will also provide data management functionality—enabling compliance with the data retention policy in your organization, reducing the data risk surface area.

Choose a Best-In-Breed eDiscovery Solution for the Content Format

There is a temptation to reduce the workload of managing multiple eDiscovery relationships by consolidating into one solution to support the eDiscovery process. As new content formats emerge (e.g. workplace collaboration), it is worthwhile to invest in a solution that has mastered surfacing relevant content in those datasets with context.

The multiteam, project-based, highly unpredictable and non-negotiable nature of e-discovery projects has led to a complex and fragmented market ecosystem. Solution providers tend to focus on a few areas of the EDRM or become "best in class" for certain capabilities. While it is possible to leverage a single technology platform or outsource to a single service provider, most organizations have multiple technology tools in-house plus service providers to complete the support of their ediscovery needs.

Consider the example of conversation data in a one-to-one chat. Surfacing an individual message can be accomplished by identifying a keyword or phrase. However, in an investigation, the messages before and after would help build context for stakeholders.

An e-discovery solution that can transcend simple keyword matching and leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to identify relevant content based on context reduces the likelihood of skipping relevant messages and spending expensive hours finding the right content.