What E-Discovery Buyers Need to Know About the Current State of Analytics Adoption

Despite growing data volumes, evolving data types and increasing e-discovery case complexities, e-discovery analytics technologies still lack utilization and awareness across the legal field. As an industry, we’re seeing numerous roadblocks to analytics adoption. They range across resistance to change, uncertainty about defensibility, lack of knowledge about what analytics actually are and perceived (or in some cases actual) difficulty of use for certain advanced functions.

These roadblocks are becoming a serious hindrance to e-discovery teams, for both in-house counsels under pressure to reduce costs and law firms struggling to remain competitive and relevant in an evolving market. Unfortunately, utilization isn’t likely to increase in a meaningful way until counsel understands the scope of analytics tools and methods, technology providers make them easy to use, and proper education and training are provided.

Despite the widespread perception that analytics are gaining momentum, a recent study of e-discovery software users confirmed that adoption is, in fact, lagging behind where experts believe it should be. This article will share key findings of the e-discovery study, and outline the most important factors e-discovery buyers must consider to address barriers and stimulate adoption.

The survey, executed by EMC Research on behalf of FTI and Ringtail, revealed the following:

1. Fifty percent of users indicate they are using analytics technologies less than a couple times per year.

2. Predictive coding is being used on a “regular or semiregular” basis by 54 percent of respondents, while 53 percent are using content analytics and 10 percent are using social network analytics.

3. When a matter grows to the point where a legal team’s perceived internal resources are no longer able to handle it, 57 percent said they then turn to a service provider to conduct the review.

4. Analytic technologies such as predictive coding, clustering, content analytics and social network analytics (a form of AI) are designed to take the data from large and complex e-discovery matters and organize, visualize, in some cases reduce, and review it so that it becomes more manageable for legal teams. However, at the point where analytics technologies could be called into action to assist in reducing the size and complexities of a matter, 50 percent of users are instead turning to service providers to provide the assistance through a combination of technology and manpower.

5. Some software platforms do not include built-in analytic capabilities, instead offering a network of applications that can be added to a standard platform to enhance the baseline technology. While the flexibility to customize a platform gives users greater control over their technology stack, 95 percent of users stated they did not use or were not aware of using any third-party analytics applications with their software platform. This indicates that most work with only the standard platform or remain unaware of enhancements made by others in their organization.

So, what can be done to empower e-discovery users and legal teams to take advantage of e-discovery analytics within the platforms they are already using?

Analytics should be easy to access: The more steps a user is asked to take to access and deploy analytics, the less likely the analytics will be utilized. To the extent platforms can include analytics as part of the core technology platform as well as workflow, barriers to usage will be reduced. Another deterrent is when users are asked to build and customize their analytics application. While some users appreciate the flexibility, many will seek pre-configuration for out of the box usage. Ideally, both should be offered, so users have the opportunity to become familiarized with the analytics technology prior to advancing to a point when they are able to build upon and customize the solution.

Analytics should be easy to use: The number one response, by a ratio of 3:1, of why users have selected the e-discovery platform they utilize is the perceived ease of use. By the same ratio, users opt to not select a platform for its perceived difficulty of use. While it may seem obvious to select a platform that is easy to use, it may be easier said than done. Emphasis should be placed on usability, with time spent on usability testing to ensure simplicity.

Education: What people understand and are familiar with will impact perceived ease of use. Providing education and teaching users best practices on where and how to deploy analytics can play a large part in increasing adoption and optimizing usage. Education can come in the form of certification programs, webinars, tutorials, on-site training and product documentation. The key is recognizing that people learn in many ways and thus offering multiple paths of learning for them to choose from. Information should also be available on-demand, so materials can be readily accessed as questions arise.