Following our inaugural Illuminations Panel in November 2016, Lighthouse once again welcomed industry thought leaders to present on a panel at Middle Temple in London this past week. This time around, panelists from both the corporate and product side discussed integrated ediscovery, as well as how Microsoft Office 365 is changing the conversation. Panelists dove into the past, present, and future of cloud-based solutions, and what options are available to corporations today. Ironically, the classical and austere surroundings of the 14th century Middle Temple rooms belied the cutting-edge nature of the conversation.
The session kicked off discussing the fact that the explosion of data and increased regulatory activity were nothing new to the ediscovery industry, and that it was clear that corporations have progressed from talk to taking positive action. In the past three years alone there has been a dramatic shift, as people are becoming more receptive to cloud-based solutions.
So, why are people more receptive to the cloud and cloud-based solutions?
The reality is that data is going to continue to grow and regulatory activity will not slow down. It is not just a legal, IT, or compliance problem for firms, it is a fundamental business issue, which corporations are starting to understand and implement solutions around. One panelist echoed this sentiment and said that the role of an ediscovery lead is to build the data lifecycle management policy, which means aligning with members of compliance and legal on an almost daily basis to navigate the sometimes-muddy waters. In addition, there is still a universal feeling that legal is the last to know, as IT teams are typically the primary drivers of Office 365 adoption.
Since these issues continue to be persistent, more corporations are interested in moving to the cloud and products like Office 365, where they can expect that their primary data will all be stored in one place. This ultimately gives organisations an extra layer of assurance that their data never leaves the jurisdiction it was created in. And, now that privacy and security are integral to the cloud, there is less of a reason to shy away from it.
How are enterprise content management solutions changing the ediscovery landscape?
Having all of your data, from creation to completion, in one searchable repository is a paradigm shift for many users. The very essence of Microsoft Office 365’s E5 is that ALL of your data within the platform is searchable and, by definition, it is hard to argue that undertaking a search is disproportionate or presents an excessive burden.
The panel agreed that Office 365 meant that the process itself would be constantly evolving, which creates a different challenge to users and would require a different mindset. For example, if your firm is adopting a cloud-first ethos for managing data, then it makes little sense to be continually extracting this data from the searchable and easily-navigable cloud solution and putting it into a separate hosting and processing solution.
Where is the landscape headed?
Corporations are communicating in different ways and email is starting to look a bit old hat and cumbersome. We could well see a future where the use of email as a primary method of business communication is diminished, as platforms such as Slack, Yammer, Microsoft Teams, and Skype Chat become more integrated into organisations. If corporations are using these tools as part of the course of business then they are discoverable. We now must look to insights and signals to really understand data. eDiscovery will continue to change to fit how data relates to each other and start to look at how this data tells a story. Tools like Office 365 will help with this data story-telling theory.
What is the difference between the Office 365 modules?
There are a few different Office 365 enterprise licensing levels and each has its own ediscovery-related features and benefits.
- E1: Is essentially email only and includes basic search functionality. Typically this is adopted by retail and manufacturing corporations.
- E3: Is where the majority of clients are currently located. In addition to email, there is a full suite of Office tools. This also comes with unlimited storage and some compliance and security features (i.e. data holds, retention policies, etc.).
- E5: In addition to the features above, this level includes the Advanced eDiscovery and Advanced Data Governance suites.
Whether your organization is in the process of adopting Office 365 or you are trying to determine how to best leverage the investment your organization has already made, selecting the module that is best suited for your needs is critical. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an expert for guidance to ensure you are maximizing your investment.
Overall, many pertinent questions were raised from the floor, and the conversation continued even after the panel ended. It is clear that the conversation around Office 365 will continue and that the future of ediscovery may already be with us.
If you are interested in discussing this topic with me further, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.