Summer 2022 eDiscovery Business

The Summer 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey is Out!: eDiscovery Trends

It’s time for the Summer 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 provided 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.

The Summer 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey response period was initiated on June 10, 2022, and continued until June 27, 2022. This quarter’s survey experienced a strong response rate with 73 eDiscovery professionals sharing their opinions on the business of eDiscovery.  So, let’s get into it!

Service Providers Back on Top: Software and/or Services Provider respondents assumed their customary top spot with 38.4% of all respondents (2.4% more than the lifetime average). Law Firm respondents slipped to second with 31.5% of all respondents (but 0.9% higher than the lifetime average of 30.6%).  Consultancy remained third at 17.8% (0.6 percent above the 17.2% lifetime average).  And Corporation respondents were fourth at 8.2%, 0.4% higher than the lifetime average of 7.8%. If you count law firms as providers (they’re technically both providers and consumers), providers account for 87.7% of total respondents (the highest since Fall 2018).  Here’s a graphical representation of the trend over the last twelve surveys:

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

Current Business Slides: This quarter, we saw a 13.7-point drop off last quarter’s record high to 57.5% of respondents that considered business to be good (the lowest since Spring 2021). However, that’s above the average of all surveys (53.5%) by 4.0%.  38.4% of respondents consider business to be normal, leaving only 4.1% of respondents that rated business conditions as bad (below the lifetime average of 9.5% and 1.7% lower than last time). Here is the trend over the last twelve surveys:

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

The Slide Continues Down the Road: Most respondents (93.2%) expect business conditions will be in their segment to be the same or better six months from now, split evenly down the middle at 46.6% each for the higher and same groups. For expected revenues, the number of respondents that expected the same or better on revenues was a point below last quarter at 93.2%, with a steeper drop of 8.7% for those expecting higher revenues (54.8% compared to 63.5% last quarter). As for profits, respondents expecting higher profits dropped 5.8% to 38.4% (which is 2.1% lower than the lifetime average of 40.5%), while close to half of respondents (47.9%) expected flat profits and 13.7% expected lower profits (the highest percentage since Winter 2021 and 1.1% higher than the average).  Here is the profits trend over the last twelve surveys:

Summer 2022 eDiscovery Business
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Will respondents be more optimistic next quarter?  We’ll see.

Data Types are Still Increasing: Increasing Types of Data held on to the top spot as most impactful with 28.8% (10.2% higher than the lifetime average). Budgetary Constraints jumped all the way back to second from its first ever last position at 24.7%, which is still 1.7% behind the lifetime average of 26.4%. Lack of Personnel slipped to third at 16.4% (2.2% ahead of its lifetime average of 14.2%).  Increasing Volumes of Data took fourth at 15.1% (5.8% lower than the lifetime average of 20.9%), Data Security was fifth at 9.6% (which is 2.7% below the lifetime average of 12.3%), and Inadequate Technology returned to its customary last place position at 5.5% (which is 2.1% lower than the lifetime average of 7.6%) The graph below illustrates the distribution over the last twelve surveys:

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The focus on increasing types of data isn’t surprising, considering how much more focus there has been on collaboration app data – not to mention we use mobile devices more than ever too. It will be interesting to see how long it remains at the top.

Leaders and Managers, er Lead: Executive Leadership respondents held on to the top spot for the third quarter in a row at 45.5%, 5.6% higher than average. Operational Management stayed at second at 35.6% (3.0% above the lifetime average of 32.6%.  And Tactical Execution respondents remained as the lowest group for the seventh time in a row at 19.2% (8.6% below the lifetime average of 27.8%). Here’s the breakdown over the last twelve surveys:

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In short, the Summer 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey reflects a dip from current business and business confidence over the next six months from the record highs we were seeing last quarter. Is this the start of a trend? Check back here in three months to find out!

Again, Rob has published the results for the Summer 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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