Fall 2022 eDiscovery Business

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

It’s time for the Fall 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, which now spans ever quarter for seven full years! 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 seven years makes for a very crowded graph.

The Fall 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey response period was initiated on September 11, 2022, and continued until September 22, 2022. This quarter’s survey experienced a very strong response rate with 100 eDiscovery professionals sharing their opinions on the business of eDiscovery.  So, let’s get into it!

UnitedLex

Service Providers and Law Firms Tied at the Top: For only the second time ever, there was a tie at the top with 33.0% each for both Software and/or Services Provider respondents (2.9% below the lifetime average) and Law Firm respondents (2.3% higher than the lifetime average of 30.6%). Corporation respondents were third at 16.0% for the first time in three years, 7.9% higher than the lifetime average of 8.1%. Consultancy fell to fourth at 6.0% (10.8 percent above the 16.8% lifetime average). If you count law firms as providers (they’re technically both providers and consumers), providers account for 72.0% of total respondents (the lowest ever!).  Here’s a graphical representation of the trend over the last twelve surveys:

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

Current Business Continues its Slide: This quarter, we saw another 1.5-point drop off from last quarter to 56.0% of respondents that considered business to be good (the lowest since Winter 2021). That’s still above the average of all surveys (53.6%) by 2.4%.  41.0% of respondents consider business to be normal, leaving only 3.0% of respondents that rated business conditions as bad (not only below the lifetime average of 9.3%, but the lowest ever). Here is the trend over the last twelve surveys:

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

ProSearch

The Slide Continues Down the Road: Most respondents (95.0%) expect business conditions will be in their segment to be the same or better six months from now, but only 37.0% expect business to be better while 58.0% expect it to be the same. For expected revenues, the number of respondents that expected the same or better on revenues was slightly higher than last quarter at 94.0%, but with another drop of 5.8% for those expecting higher revenues (49.0% compared to 54.8% last quarter). As for profits, respondents expecting higher profits dropped 8.4% to 30.0% (which is 10.1% lower than the lifetime average of 40.1% and the lowest since Spring 2020), while more than half of respondents (58.0%) expected flat profits and 12.0% expected lower profits (0.6% lower than the average).  Here is the profits trend over the last twelve surveys:

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Will respondents be more optimistic next quarter?  We’ll see.

Data Types Holding Steady at the Top: Increasing Types of Data held on to the top spot as most impactful for the third quarter in a row with 28.0% (9.1% higher than the lifetime average). Budgetary Constraints remained at second at 25.0%, which is 1.3% behind the lifetime average of 26.3%. Lack of Personnel (1.8% ahead of its lifetime average of 14.2%) and Increasing Volumes of Data (4.8% lower than the lifetime average of 20.8%) tied for third at 16.0%, Data Security was fifth at 11.0% (which is 1.3% below the lifetime average of 12.3%), and Inadequate Technology was once again last at 4.0% (which is 3.5% lower than the lifetime average of 7.5%) 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 many more case law decisions we’re seeing that entail newer forms of ESI. It will be interesting to see how long it remains at the top.

Relatively Even Distribution Among the Ranks: Executive Leadership respondents held on to the top spot for the fourth quarter in a row at 37.0% (but 2.5% lower than average). Operational Management stayed at second at 34.0% (1.3% above the lifetime average of 32.7%. And Tactical Execution respondents remained as the lowest group for the eighth time in a row, but up considerably at 29.0% (1.2% above the lifetime average of 27.8%). Here’s the breakdown over the last twelve surveys:

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In short, the Fall 2022 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey reflects a continued dip from current business and business confidence over the next six months. Is this the start of a trend? Check back here in three months!

Again, Rob has published the results for the Fall 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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