[author: Doug Austin, Editor of eDiscovery Today]
Like many boys over the past several decades, I played with LEGOs when I was a kid. Back then, you didn’t buy a kit that was designed to build a specific item, you bought a box of LEGO building blocks in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors with no instructions. You could build whatever you wanted, how ever you wanted to build it – the possibilities were endless, and you could be as creative as you wanted to be.
Unfortunately, those LEGO boxes didn’t sell well, so the company began selling kits, designed to build specific items – everything from a fire truck to the Star Wars Death Star to the Batmobile. And they came with instructions.
eDiscovery No Longer Fits a Set of Instructions
Many eDiscovery professionals want to make eDiscovery conform to a “set of instructions” – they want predictability. They want to conduct eDiscovery the way they’ve always done it. They want to stick to discovery of email and office documents and avoid considering discovery of ESI sources like mobile device data, collaboration app data, audio and video files and more. They want to haggle over the scope of search terms with opposing parties instead of considering leveraging technological approaches such as Technology Assisted Review (TAR). They want a predictable outcome.
But eDiscovery no longer fits a set of instructions (if it ever did). Every case is different, and it requires different workflows to support different ESI sources, different issues in the case, and different ways of leveraging technology to cull data and conduct review. You often don’t know what you’re trying to “build” until you see what “pieces” you have and the number of potential workflows to build a solution is virtually unlimited.
Technology Components Are Like LEGO Blocks
That’s why so many organizations are embracing an open architecture approach to technology solutions. Building solutions today is becoming more about assembling the technology required for those solutions, instead of working with stand-alone platforms that have given limitations. We’re seeing more application programming interfaces made publicly available to software developers (i.e., Open APIs) that enable those developers to create connections to integrate into the software of the provider of the Open APIs.
Open APIs enable those developers to connect to apps with complementary features, apps that perform functions at different stages of the process – even apps and platforms that could be considered competitors in certain situations. From an eDiscovery perspective, that could entail bringing together enterprise solutions from which collect data is collected, a processing solution with desired early data assessment analytics capabilities, a review platform that facilitates document review for a team of reviewers, and a presentation platform to streamline presentation of evidence at depos and trials.
Service Providers Are the LEGO Masters
Most kids that grow up building LEGOs know that there is always that one kid who is especially creative building things with them. He or she can simply imagine an item and then proceed to build it and make it look great. While the LEGO “masters” in the eDiscovery world could come from anywhere, many of them come from the service provider segment of the eDiscovery market. Service providers see more varied types of cases and need to offer a variety of solutions, mixing and matching technology to support their clients’ needs. That’s why you see many eDiscovery service providers offer multiple eDiscovery platforms – they need to be the LEGO masters for their clients to assemble a solution that works for each of them.
Make no mistake, there are best practices associated with eDiscovery and those sets of instructions should be followed to perform specific tasks within the discovery lifecycle. You can’t “wing it” when it comes to eDiscovery best practices.
But when it comes to assembling the right eDiscovery solution for your case, there is so much great technology out there and the use of Open APIs can link terrific apps together to build the right solution for you. Throw away the instructions and get creative!