As organizations continue to create greater volumes and more varieties of data, IT teams are facing mounting pressure to ensure they can respond comprehensively, cost-effectively and quickly to any e-discovery inquiry. Failure to meet e-discovery demands can lead to devastating consequences, including out-of-control discovery costs, financial penalties, legal ramifications and potential brand damage. In fact, if an organization is not prepared to meet e-discovery requirements, business leaders may find that it is necessary to settle lawsuits—even if they are clearly winnable—rather than go through the expense of an e-discovery process.
Further, the challenges of meeting e-discovery requirements are exacerbated by trends particular to today’s business environment, including:
- Growing data volume: Organizations are creating more data, which means they must not only store it, but also have confidence that they can reliably access it in a timely manner. IT teams must find cost-efficient ways to store data at each stage of its lifecycle or run the risk of spiraling data storage costs. At the same time, they must be able to easily search the data to find what is relevant for e-discovery, while ensuring they can retrieve that data in a timely manner.
- Greater data diversity: Unstructured data, such as emails, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations and other content is growing at a staggering pace, meaning IT teams need technologies and processes to categorize, tag and store that data. In addition, new types of collaborative data such as social media, text, instant messaging and SharePoint interactions have to be categorized, tagged, stored, found, accessed and retrieved. It’s a huge challenge. According to a Bloomberg survey, managing data created by mobile devices and social networking is the biggest problem for corporate legal teams responding to e-discovery requests.1
Today’s legal environment poses other challenges as well. Judges are well aware of advances in technology and tend to show little patience for organizations that can’t produce all of the data required in a timely manner. They also expect that organizations can prove that the data they are submitting to the court is complete and has not been tampered with.
Given all of these factors, how can IT teams ensure that their organizations deploy cost-effective data storage solutions with flexible, automated and repeatable processes that enable timely e-discovery? Here are three key steps you should take:
Step 1: Control e-discovery costs
You must be able to respond to e-discovery demands while also recognizing that e-discovery is not going to drive revenue or bring bottom-line returns. The goal should be to spend what you need to but no more than that. You can do this by selecting solutions like tiered storage and cloud storage or working with a third-party provider that offers off-site backup and data archives. You can also implement a software solution that helps you sift through the organization’s data archive to retrieve information quickly, or choose a provider with expertise and technology that enables on-demand location of specific objects in archived data.
Step 2: Establish comprehensive data management
You also want to be able to reduce the amount of data you are storing, which means using technologies such as deduplication and tiering as part of an enterprisewide data lifecycle management strategy. Your plan should include data retention and disposal policies you can centrally monitor, refresh and enforce. When it comes to e-discovery, you don’t want to be surprised with documents that should have been deleted, but you don’t want to inadvertently delete documents you may have to produce in court.
Step 3: Control recovery times
A tiered storage solution will not only help you reduce storage costs, but also alleviate e-discovery congestion so you can retrieve data in a timely manner—wherever it is located. One way to drive efficiencies and cost reductions is to house frequently accessed data on faster media located on-premises, while storing data that is accessed less frequently with a third-party supplier at an off-site data storage facility or in the cloud.
Finally, remember that you can drive e-discovery efficiencies by working with a trusted partner that provides a full range of solutions and has the knowledge, expertise and experience to help you navigate any e-discovery challenge without straining your IT resources.
1“Survey Finds That E-Discovery Presents Significant Management, Cost Challenges,” Bloomberg, Oct. 3, 2014