Thought Leader Interview with Dean Brown of Ipro, Part Three: eDiscovery Trends and Best Practices

Because of EDRM’s announcement earlier today about their new ExpoCom virtual conference slated for next February, it’s a rare three post day! Enjoy the conclusion of my interview with Dean Brown below!

I recently interviewed Dean Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Ipro Tech.  We covered so much with regard to eDiscovery trends that we couldn’t fit it all in a single blog post.  Part One of my interview was published Wednesday, part two was published Friday, here is the third and final part.

Ipro has several products and a large and very well-established customer base.  What’s Ipro’s strategy with regard to continuing to support the needs of those customers?

For us, Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Index is everything.  We retain virtually all of our customers year over year. We run at about a 99% retention rate.  Our culture is to build a partnership with our customers, listen to them and fully understand their workflows and what problems they’re trying to solve. In addition, one-size doesn’t fit all, so we made a conscious decision to continue to support our smaller law firms and certain government agencies that need a more affordable, small footprint and easy to use desktop product.

On the Enterprise side, Ipro was originally famous for our eCapture’s processing quality and scalable capabilities. This continues to be our focus as we innovate our platform. We want to continue to scale, provide higher performance without sacrificing quality and the amount of data we can extract.  We will not settle with vanilla processing. A few years ago, our review tool was not as easy to use as it should have been, so we invested in UX and have rebuilt that interface. The adoption and feedback have been incredible and I’m very proud of our team for carefully listening to our customers on what they wanted to see. Now we’re working on integrating NetGovern’s capabilities to perform a Live-EDA with data connectors to multiple sources, analytics tools, a legal hold process and seamlessly promote to review.  We don’t want to just “bolt them on”. You have to start with the usability concept and where in the workflow it fits. And, one of our key premises is that the EDRM doesn’t need to be linear, it should almost be recursive. We want to remove the concept of being over-inclusive during collection because we’re afraid of potentially missing data. If you take that analytics capability and you move it forward and give people real time access to their data, then you should be able to “go back to the well” again and again to refine your searches and your analytics on a recursive basis. 

But, that means changing many of the eDiscovery best practices we have followed for years.  If you have ever read the book Who Moved my Cheese about handling change, we understand that there are dramatic ways to use technology to accelerate and improve the usability of data.  So, we’re working very, very closely with our customers and have hired a UX team whose entire job is to explore how best to help customers tap into these functions.

I think that’s true in many parts of the eDiscovery world right now, not just for Ipro.  It’s not just about “working smarter, not harder” and trying to change people’s lives for the better saying “I’m a technologist, we have software, you need to fit the way we do things”.  That usually doesn’t work. I had a similar thought process when I came into the legal market and I looked at what customers do with dtSearch.  I don’t know if I’ve seen dtSearch used outside of the legal market. People say “we should use x or y or z technology”.  But, people have spent 20 years working with dtSearch – they know it, it’s ingrained in them. So it’s incumbent on Ipro to improve those processes without just pulling the rug out from underneath them.  And, how we move some of that power “behind the curtain”, like the wizard in The Wizard of Oz, yet still give them access to what they need, with a focus on ease of use without sacrificing deeper levels of power.

So that’s where we’re going.  We’re very customer centric. It’s not our job to tell our customers how to run their business or where to run their business.  Our focus is to help them be more efficient in the challenges they’re facing. Our strategy boils down to carefully listening to our customers’ perspective and their unique needs and focus on helping them be better at their jobs with the solutions we provide.

What else are you and Ipro working on that you’d like our readers to know about?

The acquisition of NetGovern and the integration of those workflows is really the core for us in helping customers reinvent their approach to the EDRM, wherever they’re starting on it.  With NetGovern, we have many customers who are on the left who are deeply immersed in compliance and security issues.  And, we’re looking at rolling that knowledge around that data downstream into their approach to discovery.  Ipro obviously brings thousands of eDiscovery customers who are looking to use the data hygiene upstream. That’s going to be a big focus the next year for us – helping customers do more with the data as it sits.  It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a law firm working in partnership with a corporate customer, or you’re a government agency or a legal service provider. Our most progressive customers are all involving multiple parts, whether it’s outside counsel or a service provider. As I mentioned before, they’re bringing people together into these integrated workflows. 

As an industry, we really don’t have much choice but to deal with the data earlier.  The sizes of the productions and the sizes of the matters that we see our customers dealing with are already at a scale that is ridiculous and untenable. So, when you talk about bringing the technology to the data, we absolutely concur.  Bringing analytics capabilities forward is really going to consume us for the foreseeable future.  But what it does is it gives that collective “customer” – usually a partnership of corporate/service provider – the power to make decisions early. They may still move that information out and let their outside legal counsel work with it, but odds are that the relationship is different as we go forward. Probably less information moves.

One of our largest and best customers doesn’t send any information out. They bring all their legal counsel into their software data lake.  They essentially project-manage that process, and if they need one outside counsel with special expertise or ten outside legal counsel for a large matter, they’ll bring them into the corporate walls, into the data lake which is managed by Ipro.  I think that’s an incredibly progressive view and one that we see happening more with a deep partnership as opposed to an easy partnership, which is more “lift and shift” where the issues get pushed off to the law firms and providers.  We want to provide the solutions to help our customers evolve to deeper partnerships to be able to take advantage of those earlier opportunities. 

Our primary focus is on giving customers more power earlier in these cycles and allowing them to make more informed decisions earlier. If you have the data hygiene coming downstream from info governance, your opportunities to save money or time can be a significant motivator. Our eDiscovery teams are often dealing with 30-day time limits that are imposed to respond to requests, so saving human capital is important. We have a customer who routinely responds to DOJ inquiries that involve tens of millions of records, so giving them the power to do that in a timely matter requires software.  And we want to apply that power as early as possible. I think the entire industry is really at a tipping point around analytics, not just Ipro, because of the volume of data that you’ve written about many times in your articles.  At those levels, there’s really not much choice but to embrace a more effective workflow (or set of workflows) and more effective approach to technology.

Dean, thanks for your time today and thanks for participating in the eDiscovery Today Thought Leader Interview Series!

So, what do you think?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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