The future of eDiscovery

The vital role of EDRM

​Discovery relating to legal or investigation matters can challenge almost any organization's business processes, especially in a world increasingly dominated by digital information and communications technologies. Issues can include how to quantify the data that may be relevant to a discovery matter, how to manage discovery-associated costs, and how to create a holistic view of the data lifecycle of the company. Companies often wrestle to bring clarity to data in all of its forms and manage it across geographical and jurisdictional boundaries, whether it is moving the data virtually or in a physical form.

Global reach increases complexity

​The complexity of these discovery challenges can grow when data moves around the globe. Special compliance and operational issues arise when data has to be moved physically on hard drives and other storage devices. The data may have to be collected from locations around the world, some in which the discovery environment is less than ideal. Privacy and protection laws in the location where collection will occur may prevent movement of the data. Transferring physical data between jurisdictions within a country can also raise issues. The physical operation of moving storage devices is also potentially troublesome for technical, custody, and security reasons. Hard drives have been tossed in overhead bins and rental car backseats and ended up damaged. Drives put in checked luggage are at the mercy of baggage handlers, and for the duration of the flight under a broken chain of custody.

Emerging technologies expand the challenges

New technologies further increase the complexity of quantifying and collecting data for discovery. eDiscovery, which started with unstructured data in emails, now encompasses diverse devices, data sources, and technologies. Potentially disruptive future change agents in eDiscovery include:

Artificial intelligence (AI). AI-driven technology-assisted review is already helping identify relevant eDiscovery information. Could AI end up writing the emails rather than people?

Blockchain. Applying this distributed database technology to eDiscovery could be extremely complex. At the same time, blockchain's inherent characteristics could make it a key technology that enhances the discovery process.

Cloud services. Exactly where geographically is cloud data stored? A lack of proper controls and custody of eDiscovery data in the cloud could prove detrimental during a discovery process.

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