Thought Leader Interview with Kelly Griswold of Onna: eDiscovery Trends and Best Practices

Time for another thought leader interview on eDiscovery Today!  My latest interview is with the COO of a leading company in knowledge integration, Kelly Griswold of Onna!

Kelly was appointed as Onna’s Chief Operating Officer in October 2020, having originally joined the company as Chief Strategy Officer. She oversees Sales, Customer Success, Partnerships, Finance, Marketing, and the People Team. Her focus is on the day-to-day operations of the company, working closely with founder and CEO, Salim Elkhou, on delivering Onna’s mission.

Kelly previously led the go-to-market function at Knowable (which was spun out of Axiom) and built the global partnerships and alliances team. Prior to Axiom, Kelly worked in finance and corporate development roles in renewable energy – she was the SVP of Business Development at Sungevity, co-founder of GSSG Solar, and part of the Global Special Situations Group at SunEdison. She started her career at UBS in a variety of roles including global corporate development.

Evidence Optix

Kelly lives in Alameda, California, with her husband, two young children, a dog, and a cat. She has a BA in English and Sociology with a Legal Studies focus from Bucknell University.

Doug Austin: It seems that organizations are having to account for more data sources than ever, with sources such as mobile device data, collaboration app data, social media data and more to manage. What recommendations do you have for our audience regarding how to address the challenges associated with these new data sources?

Kelly Griswold: We hear from businesses every day that they are struggling to deal with the vast amounts of data in their organizations. There’s more data generated from more sources than ever before and that growth is accelerating. In 2020, there were approximately 40 zettabytes of data (40 trillion gigabytes) created and it is estimated that 90% of all the data throughout history was generated in the last two years. By 2025, it is expected that 150 zettabytes of data will need to be analyzed. Many of the companies we work with have started to develop plans to find, manage and protect data from all the sources and apps in their organizations –– and those businesses that haven’t, need to.

First and foremost, legal and IT teams need to understand exactly what data they have to be able to mitigate risk and, as the amount of data grows, so does the associated risk. But, only having a plan to reactively manage the risk associated with the data is just half the job. As the lifeblood of any organization, data is also providing huge opportunities for those that can unlock its value. Any plan around data should also be able to understand its value as an asset for the organization to help with better decision-making, improve efficiencies and productivity, and to be able to gain competitive advantage.


Doug Austin: With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many organizations over a year ago to remote work for social distancing purposes, what advice do you have for our audience to address information governance challenges resulting from the pandemic and remote work?

Kelly Griswold: A few things have become abundantly clear over the last 14 months: that we can work remotely effectively and going back to the office five days a week seems unlikely for many of us; that the apps we use, especially for collaboration, enable us to be productive and stay connected with colleagues; and that ‘old ways of working’ now seem so dated and that the world of work has changed irrevocably. The signs have been there for a few years and the pandemic has been a catalyst for change that was already happening –– COVID has undoubtedly accelerated the adoption of new technologies and companies are now grappling with the ramifications.

The fact that so much of the data from the tens or hundreds of workplace apps we use is unstructured (estimated to be 80-90% of all data), makes it particularly hard to manage and traditional tools are no longer up to the task. Information governance requires a different approach to be able to support the modern tech stack in today’s business. The right tools should be able to embrace this new world of unstructured data to ensure defensible and complete collections; cut data volumes to reduce review costs; reduce the time and cost of identifying and processing data; and remove repetitive and inconsistent processes and outputs per data source. All of that requires a different approach with information governance tools that are able to address the unique challenges that businesses face as we look to come out of the other side of the pandemic.

Doug Austin: A lot of providers are emphasizing a move to the left of the EDRM model to attempt to provide “end to end” support for the EDRM life cycle. Since Onna’s focus has historically been on that left InfoGov side, is Onna looking to become an “end to end” provider for organizations? If so, how?

Kelly Griswold: Legal Technology –– as an industry sector –– has underappreciated the importance of integrated technology through partnerships. It’s a missed opportunity because these partnerships are what companies need to get the best value from their tech investments. We talk a lot about the investment dollars pouring into legal tech and we see a lot of M&A activity especially in eDiscovery right now. Typically, capability expansion through acquisition is referred to as a positive. But, as many vendors invest in becoming single-suite solutions, there is a big question mark over whether it’s the best thing for customers. As many providers build or acquire new capabilities, in an attempt to provide ‘end-to-end’ solutions, will they be able to deliver a best-in-class experience across all components of their offerings?

If you look at enterprise technology, best of breed apps are dominating the market. That is (in part) because they’ve invested in out-of-the box integrations. Their users get the best of both worlds: the best tool for the job with the interoperability benefits of a single suite. For Onna, making enterprise information accessible, useful and private (the left side of the EDRM for InfoGov) is our core focus. We believe that partnering with other best of breed legal technologies, like our recent collaboration with Zapproved, is a better experience for our customers. The burden shouldn’t fall to companies to manually stitch together their tech stacks, nor should they have to sacrifice time and money by leveraging subpar components of a single suite. Look at the tech stacks leveraged by marketing, sales, HR teams… they all follow the best-of-breed approach. It only stands to reason that legal will follow.

Thanks to Kelly Griswold of Onna for the interview!

About Onna

Onna is a Knowledge Integration Platform that continuously and automatically connects to the most popular applications, to find content anywhere it may be, preserve high value knowledge and get notified when something important appears across your enterprise data. Our mission is to make your information accessible, useful, and private. Built with security and privacy in mind, at Onna, we believe data is powerful and should stay with those who own it.

In 2020 the brand raised a $27 million Series B investment. The brand works household name brands such as EA, Lyft, Slack, Dropbox and Newscorp to name a few.

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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