Recently, a number of eDiscovery software companies have been touting DIY and Software as a Service (SaaS) as an alternative to the traditional methods used to prepare ESI for review and production. Currently, law firms and corporations will process ESI in-house or send it to a vendor that provides these services. Once processed, the ESI is published to a review platform where legal teams can review for relevance, privilege, etc. Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s not. Otto von Bismark once quipped, “There are two things you don’t want to see being made – sausage and legislation”. I would add eDiscovery to that statement. It is a multi-step process that calls for perfection and speed at the lowest possible price. It can take teams of people, software and hardware to move ESI from start to finish. It is inefficient and costly and I have always thought that there has to be a better way.
So, when I started hearing that software companies have solved this age old problem I was both excited and skeptical. I wondered how corrupted files would be handled and where quality control fit in. How could this antediluvian process be simplified? The claim from the software companies is that after initial setup, one can simply upload emails and documents to the cloud only to have them magically appear in a document review workspace. Voila! Can it be that simple?
Kim Taylor thinks so and that his company’s product is the answer. Kim is the CEO and President of Ipro, a company that makes eDiscovery software and recently launched its Automated Digital Discovery (ADD) product. I sat down with Kim at a conference last month and asked him a few questions about ADD and his thoughts on the SaaS movement in the industry.
PC – Can you describe what ADD is and why you feel it is game changing?
KT – ADD is game changing in many ways. Ipro has changed the traditional model, by developing a patent-pending automation and data streaming technology. Similar to how Netflix streams data so viewers can watch movies instantly vs. waiting for the entire file to download, Ipro is the first in the industry to stream eDiscovery data from process to process, and is the fastest way to get data into a review system. I believe that ADD will do to eDiscovery what Plug-N-Play technology did to computers in 1995. It is going to simplify the entire eDiscovery process where all cases, no matter what the size or sophistication of the firm, will be able to properly comply with eDiscovery requests.
Think about this scenario… You need to get data to your service provider or from the corporation and have it processed, filtered and loaded into a review system. This is very easy with ADD’s self-service system enabling anyone to be able to upload data for their service provider or for themselves, have it processed, filtered and loaded into different review tools tracking the data throughout the process. ADD takes advantage of pre-defined workflow templates that can be customized for every case, which removes the technology complications and the need for technicians to babysit the process. This allows the data to flow freely through the many stages needed to properly process data to get into review systems. Removing the starts and stops, and locking down the case settings greatly improves the speed and efficiency while reducing chances for errors. You can also send larger data sets via hard drives as well and it can be processed and loaded the same way being tracked in the same tracking system.
PC – Is it truly automated?
KT – Yes. The goal of the ADD platform is to dramatically reduce inefficient, costly e-discovery workflows that occur through human input in the process. What it means in the day-to-day work is that tedious, time-consuming manual processes are being converted to automated ones. Using ADD’s advanced technology, litigation teams are now able to set up pre-defined templates to auto-copy data, auto-validate files, auto-process, auto-filter, auto-load, auto batch and auto-tag documents based on auto-keywords – all tasks that before ADD required a human touch. With ADD, there’s more predictability, more affordability and more structure around how the industry conducts e-discovery. Even though ADD automates the process that doesn’t mean that it limits the user from making needed changes, handling exceptions and making QC checks. We purposely made it easy to interject yourself into the process whenever needed to ensure the highest quality and flexibility. The automation and efficiency gains allow litigation teams to focus on higher value work, to be less focused on troubleshooting errors and accomplish more than they could before.
PC – You mentioned that ADD seeks to solve business problems; don’t you mean discovery problems? What business problems does ADD solve?
KT – We really believe in our i-proclamation that e-discovery should be simple, affordable and automated. By delivering on that promise, we’re solving both e-discovery and business headaches. After 24 years of being in the e-discovery industry and working on countless cases, I have reduced the business problems to these four items: lowering the cost to process and review, preventing errors, shortening the time needed, and reducing the human capital needed to ensure a successful project. ADD solves these issues, which are e-discovery and business problems since they contribute to the cost and overall success of the litigation. The efficiency gains that customers experience help businesses do more with less. Improving the bottom line and boosting productivity are time-honored business problems that ADD helps with. At Ipro, we’re constantly looking at the entire e-discovery process for ways to improve efficiencies. One great example of this is including analytics and Technology Assisted Review at no cost. Many customers used to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to utilize TAR on their cases, they don’t need to do that any longer.
PC – eDiscovery software companies and vendors have been hyping DIY eDiscovery for years, but have failed to fully deliver. Why do you feel you have solved the puzzle?
KT – The opportunity to increase efficiencies and to reduce overall eDiscovery costs has been the promise of DIY eDiscovery for a number or years. I think these failed because they did not have the entire process automated and integrated from beginning to end including the tracking of the data. Our self-service module allows Ipro customers (service providers, law firms, corporations, government agencies) to easily upload data and kick off data streaming to deliver instant processing directly into review with very little need for intervention. We are very excited about people trying ADD and seeing it in action. ADD delivers on all of the business problems mentioned earlier for our customers’ success… preventing errors from happening, boosting efficiency and lowering overall costs.
PC – Does this mean that eDiscovery vendors will become obsolete?
KT – There is an important place for eDiscovery partners, not vendors. eDiscovery is hard and it truly takes a village to do it the right way. To solve the hardest problems in eDiscovery you need a team that has “been there and done that.” This is why it is very important to pick a company that has their values and goals aligned with yours. Are they committed to reducing the costs while improving the quality and the time needed? These companies need the necessary experts to help in the entire process from the beginning. Are they helping you understand what is needed for collections? Can they advise you on how to best cull down your data, so you are processing and reviewing less? Do they have the necessary security to protect your data in today’s ever-changing security landscape? Do they have the expertise to provide manage services to augment your existing team? It is also just as important to pick companies that have successfully navigated turbulent waters over a very long period of time with the track record of winning.
PC – When is ADD not a good option for an eDiscovery matter?
KT – ADD is a great option for all types of cases and technical expertise. Don’t let its simplicity and automation hide the fact that it is built for speed, performance, and quality. For data intensive matters, which more and more cases are becoming, its ability to scale is unmatched, and you have the confidence knowing that Ipro’s 27 years of industry knowledge is behind it. Many smaller cases cannot afford the cost of analytics, so they miss out on all its power and time and cost savings. That is not the case when using ADD with Eclipse, our web-based review tool. Analytics is included at no additional charge. Ipro also offers a desktop review tool Eclipse SE, which can utilize the data processed by ADD, and will have future integrations to take advantage of all ADD’s processing capabilities. Eclipse SE is a feature-rich desktop review solution that lets customers ingest, review and produce from one in-house tool, significantly simplifying the workflow over legacy desktop review software. Eclipse SE also makes it easy to ramp up to Eclipse, web-based review, if needed. Ipro is about choices for our users. Between ADD and Eclipse SE we feel we have our customers covered.
PC – Is the SaaS delivery model where every software provider should be heading?
KT – SaaS gives organizations an alternative to buying, building and maintaining large, costly IT infrastructures. The predictable cost structure delivered by some SaaS offerings is frequently delivered as managed services and under subscription pricing models that make good business sense for many customers. We believe in SaaS. It’s an important option for customers to have, however, it’s not the right solution for every organization. Our industry is seeing the rise of a number of new eDiscovery SaaS or Cloud software companies. I applaud the introduction of these new companies. It shows our industry is growing. However, the cloud in of itself doesn’t solve pervasive customer challenges. Established service providers like D4 have been offering document review via the web for over a decade. It’s an efficient delivery mechanism that is important to employ and maximize. To solve customers’ hardest problems though in a meaningful way, you have to offer more than just a pretty UI and SaaS credentials. It has to be the full package with deep features that solve the critical and real-world pain points. I also believe with the complexities of litigation, that it’s crucial that customers have choices about deployment, what partners they use and licensing flexibility. One size shouldn’t fit all, even with SaaS.
Regardless of where the technology is today with respect to delivering on the DIY promise, it is clear that it’s the direction it’s heading. As someone who has been in this industry for almost two decades, I am excited about this movement. Because as much as I love sausage, I don’t want to see how it’s been made – I just want to enjoy the end result.