That’s No Hype! eDiscovery Software is On the Slope of Enlightment!: Legal Technology Trends

And, according to Gartner, so are technologies like Predictive Analytics, Text Analytics, Ethics and Compliance Management and Enterprise Legal Management.

Earlier this month, Gartner published a press release titled Gartner Identifies the Legal and Compliance Technologies to Focus on Post COVID-19 (hat tip to Rob Robinson’s excellent Complex Discovery blog for the coverage) where it listed the 31 “must watch” legal technologies to allow legal and compliance leaders to identify innovations that will allow them to act faster.  According to Gartner, those leaders can use this information for internal planning and prioritization of emerging innovations.

“Legal and compliance leaders must collaborate with other stakeholders to garner support for organization wide and function wide investments in technology,” said Zack Hutto, director in the Gartner Legal and Compliance practice. “They must address complex business demand by investing in technologies and practices to better anticipate, identify and manage risks, while seeking out opportunities to contribute to growth.”

Here’s the Hype Cycle Chart for Legal and Compliance Technologies, 2020 – from Gartner:

And, look at that!  eDiscovery Software is past the “Trough of Dillusionment” and on to the “Slope of Enlightenment”!  In just 2 to 5 years, it will be on to the (alliterative) “Plateau of Productivity”!  What does that even mean?  I’m not sure, especially since eDiscovery software is such a large category to consider.  Certainly, Gartner seems to feel that the eDiscovery software market is mature, at least.

Gartner analysts said enterprise legal management (ELM), subject rights requests, predictive analytics, and robotic process automation (RPA) are likely to be most beneficial for the majority of legal and compliance organizations within a few years. They are also likely to help with the increased need for cost optimization and unplanned legal work arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Let’s look at their comments regarding two of them – subject rights requests and predictive analytics:

Subject Rights Requests

The demand for subject rights requests (SRRs) is growing along with the number of regulations that enshrine a data subject’s right to access their data and request amendment or deletion. Current regulations include the California Consumer Privacy Act in the U.S., the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation and Brazil’s Lei Geral de Proteção de Dadosis.

Many organizations are funneling their subject access requests (SARs) – some people call them “DSARs” – through internal legal counsel to limit the potential exposure to liability. According to the latest Gartner Security and Risk Survey, this is costing, on average, $1,406 per SAR.

“In the face of rising request volumes and significant costs, there is great potential for legal and compliance leaders to make substantial savings and free up time by using technology to automate part, if not most, of the SRR workflow,” said Mr. Hutto.

Predictive Analytics

This is a well-established technology and the market is mature, so it can be relatively simple to use “out-of-the-box” or via a cloud service. Typically, the technology can examine data or content to answer the question, ”What is likely to happen if…?”

“Adoption of this technology in legal and compliance is typically less mature than other business functions,” said Mr. Hutto. “This likely means untapped use cases where existing solutions could be used in the legal and compliance context to offer some real benefits. While analytics platforms may make data analysis more ‘turnkey’ extracting real insights may be more elusive. Legal and compliance leaders still should consider and improve the usefulness of their data, the capabilities of their teams, and the attainability of data in various existing systems.”

About four years ago, I covered Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies chart where, at that time, Machine Learning was at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” (even though it was one of several “smart machine technologies” that was predicted to be “the most disruptive class of technologies over the next 10 years”).  Obviously, machine learning and predictive analytics are not synonymous, but there is overlap and it certainly appears that the technology is to a point that it can be a real game changer.  The only question left is when will adoption of the technology catch up?

You can see more commentary about the Gartner report here or get a full report (if you’re a Gartner client) here.

So, what do you think?  Do you think the eDiscovery software market is mature?  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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