Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business

The Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey Shows Business is Great!: eDiscovery Trends

It’s time for the Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey, published (as always) on Rob Robinson’s terrific Complex Discovery site.  Where does the confidence of individuals working in the eDiscovery ecosystem stand when compared to previous surveys?  Let’s see.

As always, Rob provides a complete breakdown of the latest survey results, which you can check out here.  I’ve covered every quarterly survey since its inception and provide some analysis. While I’m continuing to look at all surveys conducted to look at trends over time, I’m displaying a rolling three years’ data for clarity as the entire history of six plus years makes for a very crowded graph. This year, I’ve reduced from four to three years of data to try to make the graphs even clearer.

The Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey response period was initiated on March 18, 2022, and continued until March 23, 2022.  This quarter’s survey experienced a solid response rate with 52 eDiscovery professionals sharing their opinions on the business of eDiscovery in just six days.  Let’s get into it!

Law Firms Take a Firm Lead: Law Firm respondents were the top group for the first time since Winter 2021 with 36.5% of all respondents (6.0% more than the lifetime average).  Software and/or Services Provider respondents slipped to second with 30.8% of all respondents (5.1% lower than the lifetime average of 35.9%).  Consultancy remained third at 15.4% (1.8 percent behind the 17.2% lifetime average).  And Corporation respondents were tied for second to last at 3.8%, 4.0% lower than the lifetime average of 7.9%. If you count law firms as providers (they’re technically both providers and consumers), providers account for 82.7% of total respondents.  Here’s a graphical representation of the trend over the last twelve surveys:

Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business Respondents
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So, how confident is a law firm influenced group of respondents in eDiscovery business confidence in the Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey?  See below.

Current Business Hits a Record!: This quarter, we saw a 8.2-point rise to 71.2% of respondents that considered business to be good, which is a record and the first time ever above 70%! It’s also above the average of all surveys (53.4%) by 17.8%!  23.1% of respondents consider business to be normal, leaving only 5.8% of respondents that rated business conditions as bad (below the lifetime average of 9.7% but 2.1% higher than last time). Here is the trend over the last twelve surveys:

Current Business
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So, do respondents in the Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey expect business to continue to rise in six months?  See below.

More Middle of the Road, Down the Road: Almost all respondents (98.1%) expect business conditions will be in their segment to be the same or better six months from now, with more than half of all respondents (53.8%) expecting it to be the same. For expected revenues, the number of respondents that expected the same or better on revenues was slightly below last quarter at 94.2%, but with a 4.2% rise of those expecting higher revenues (63.5% compared to 59.3% last quarter). As for profits, respondents expecting higher profits rose 3.5% to 44.2% (which is 3.7% higher than the lifetime average), while close to half of respondents (46.2%) expected flat profits and 9.6% expected lower profits.  Here is the profits trend over the last twelve surveys:

Profits in Six Months
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Will respondents be more optimistic next quarter?  We’ll see.

Data Types are Increasing: Increasing Types of Data reclaimed the top spot as most impactful for the first time since Summer 2021 with 36.5% (18.3% higher than the lifetime average), Lack of Personnel slipped to second at 21.2%, which is still 7.1% more than the lifetime average of 14.1%. Increasing Volumes of Data was third at 19.2% (2.0% behind its lifetime average of 21.2%).  Data Security took fourth at 9.6% (2.8% lower than the lifetime average of 12.4%), Inadequate Technology was fifth at 7.7% (which is the lifetime average), and Budgetary Constraints finished last for the first time ever at 5.8%! That’s 20.6% behind the lifetime average and 50.2% behind its high mark of 56.0% less than two years ago shortly after the pandemic began! The graph below illustrates the distribution over the last twelve surveys:

Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business Factors
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Does the fact that business is great mean that clients don’t care about budgets and costs anymore? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves now! 😉

Leaders Complete Business Confidence Surveys: Executive Leadership respondents held on to the top spot for the third quarter in a row at 57.7%, 18.3% higher than average and a new record high! Operational Management stayed at second at 26.9% (5.6% below the lifetime average of 32.5%.  And Tactical Execution respondents remained as the lowest group for the sixth time in a row at 15.4% (12.7% below the lifetime average of 28.1% and a record low).  Here’s the breakdown over the last twelve surveys:

Positions
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In the Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey records are made to be broken!

Again, Rob has published the results for the Spring 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey on his site here, which shows responses to additional questions not referenced here.  Check them out.

So, what do you think?  Are you optimistic about eDiscovery business?  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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