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By Robyn Fortier

Published on Wed, December 20, 2017

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Drilling Down into Innovation Trends from Relativity Fest


Prior to announcing the Innovation Awards at Relativity Fest in October, the Relativity team summarized four themes across the innovation submissions:

  • Project management and collaboration
  • Data transformation, management, and normalization
  • Handling new and challenging data types
  • Reusing/getting more from your data (unique workflows)

Drill down further into key features across these themes and interesting trends surface that might help in predicting new or evolving innovations for the upcoming year. It was telling how the award winners this year either built systems to track and display business intelligence around the document review itself, or found unique ways to handle non-traditional document review.

A generalized theme across all current innovated solutions was that technology must continually adapt to support unique data collections from new technology and provide reporting insights about them.

 For example, at least six of the innovation submissions listed various case reporting as a key feature in their submission description, and the actual award winners built task tracking systems, billable information tracking, mobile data review of non-standard file content (emoticons even), and also incorporated location maps into their integrated systems.

Combine non-standard review elements with another trend of reusing data already collected, such as files or applied coding, and the straight path traditionally outlined in the EDRM workflow becomes more cyclical from collections to production, increasing efficiencies in data handling across multiple matters. Of course, Relativity provides its Relativity Integration Points technology to support the data/coding reuse trend, however, innovation submissions enhanced feature offerings to include billing insights, cost estimates, dragging/dropping files, and customized deduplication systems. These trends are indicative of the expanding sphere of collected data, the need to extend data across multiple matters and the attempt to evolve how we visualize and interpret patterns from the data to elicit a comprehensive, defensible story.

Technology Innovation Predictions for 2018

  1. More automation of system administrator processes - Rather than a strong focus on automating workflows specific to the actual document review itself, we will see more automation around workflows that software administrators typically support manually. Additionally, as more review technology users across all industry sectors gain certification or training to become administrators, automation will likely start replacing functionality that system administrators, traditionally from the vendor side, typically manage.
  2. Super simplified technology solutions - To better align with a shifting user base, we will see current and new technology offerings steering towards ‘one-click’ workflows, do-it-yourself functionality, and drag and drop options. The trend of simplifying the front-end process for processing and review, cuts down on specialized expertise and training, allowing non-system administrators to manage potentially their entire matter by also managing the technology supported workflow.
  3. Evolving third-party integrations - The integration of third-party offerings into review platforms will continue to grow or the functionality they build will be incorporated into review platforms as core features. This trend is apparent from the wide selection of technology submissions in the Relativity Innovation Awards – there were seemingly more submissions this year than prior years.
    1. As litigation continues to expand across international borders, translation services and functionality are in greater demand – methods to collect data or identify similar documents shared across international borders will become more common and technology will try to solve problems like reviewing documents from an international co-counsel team, when heavy use of redactions are present. Additionally, searching, analyzing, and threading technologies will become increasingly Unicode compliant.
    2. “Connectors” used to migrate data across platforms will more seamlessly integrate. I might even dare to say, "connectors" will eventually go away, or at least become more simplified as continual hardware and network updates, and the logic that make connectors work also evolve. Or, as more functionality is incorporated into review platforms.
  4. Non-standard document collections - There is a need to collect and organize data from mobile devices, chat services, and social media platforms in a way that currently legal technology often struggles to support or keep up with. Social media and chat messaging in particular, are expanding the way document relationships are considered - we are evolving past the world of identifying a unique file document and finding relationships based on this hash alone. As data collections from non-standard devices and social media sources increase, the industry must find new ways to relate file sources and similar content together across non-standard data collections.
  5. Enhanced visualizations for analytical reporting - The prediction of greater analytical reporting has been plotted year after year, except it doesn’t seem like the ediscovery industry progresses as fast as visually representing business analytics across other industries. One supposes that it might be challenging to explain how the relevancy of a visual cluster and what it represents might not be as defensible in court as the actual document content itself. A stronger, more apparent connection between the data visualization and the relevant document content that provides quick insights, must be made. Additionally, it’s accepted that new algorithms supporting predicative coding continue to evolve and will be released in the near-future, but it would not be surprising if new visual methods to simplify the statistical analysis and validation of the predictive coding process also followed suit.
  6. My case-law prediction for 2018 (for fun) - I predict we will see a case where social media is highly relevant to how the parties of the litigation communicated regarding the matter. This case will require the discovery of chats or messaging, in a way that more-widely changes technological processes around discovery collections and how the industry analyzes social media content. For example, the latest version of iPhone allows users to create their own “Animojis” based on their facial expressions - what if this technology was used to communicate shady exchanges within a business and there was a deeply relevant theme across specific animojis? How would this file content be collected and then visualized during review? How would the data content be analyzed and relevant themes identified? Maybe we will find out in 2018!

I look forward to checking these predictions against product roll-outs, updates, and new innovations in 2018. If you would like to continue the discussion, please email me at rfortier@lhediscovery.com.

About the Author
Robyn Fortier

Hosted Solutions Product Manager

Robyn Fortier is a Senior Hosted Solutions Project Manager with over 15 years of ediscovery experience, 10 of which have been in project management roles. Robyn began her ediscovery career in 2001 working for Electronic Evidence Discovery (now DTI) where she progressed from managing large litigation projects to managing testing of ediscovery software development releases. Robyn later worked as an IT Business Analyst at an Am Law 100 law firm supporting the ediscovery practice group. In her career, she has also explored high tech solutions as a Program Manager at Microsoft and as a Quality Assurance Analyst at Amazon.com.

Robyn has managed cases in almost every area of law, bringing her pragmatic approach to them all. She strongly advocates for building efficiencies in workflows during review and is especially interested in driving new technologies that rapidly change the business, such as assisted review, early case assessment and analytics platforms.

Robyn earned her B.A. in Art History and a Certificate in Project Management from University of Washington. She is a Relativity Certified Expert and ACEDS certified.