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More importantly, this information contains critical business content that may provide unique insight into an organization's operations and employee behavior. For example, consider the amount of collaboration, including activities such as hiring employees and finalizing sales contracts, that occurs over email. These messages may be considered records of the business, and could be requested as part of a legal matter or internal investigation.
When a discovery request arrives, attorneys immediately go into a frenzy to provide date ranges, keywords, employee names and other criteria to be used in finding this information. This is all well and good if you have the appropriate technology to handle such a request. If you want to search for the relevant information, the data must be indexed to provide insight into its actual content and context. With the indexing done, you can search for the email or invoice your company counsel is looking for. And the faster lawyers get this information, the less likely it is they'll hover over your shoulder, impatiently drumming their fingers while they wait for the evidence to be gathered.
The funny thing is that knowing the content and context of information can actually help organizations in nonelectronic discovery situations as well. Other departments can leverage information as business assets. For example, engineers who can search customer service records can gather the most common issues with a specific product so that future
Whether it's getting an email for an attorney or helping a product manager to identify buying trends within a specific geographic region, the challenge is the same: retrieving a small amount of information from a large data set.
Index, classify and search
One of the ways organizations can commence information identification and understanding is by indexing and classifying data with enterprise search apps. These products may be standalone applications or they may be embedded within information management products that allow large data sets to be grouped, organized and queried.
By getting complete, accurate results from enterprise search and classification tools in a timely manner, attorneys can spend more time reviewing evidence as opposed to looking for it. In addition, marketing can focus on analyzing the information instead of waiting for it to be found and loaded into a data warehouse.
One of the reasons for the rapid adoption of email, file-system and database archiving applications is the sheer number of business records companies must cope with. Organizations are also using content management systems to manage files and emails as records by defining a workflow that ensures the content is kept for the appropriate timeframe. Archiving and content management applications also index information before it's stored within a repository--most use embedded search technology. By embedding enterprise search and indexing technology with archiving and content management, vendors allow users to query repositories so they can quickly locate a subset of data.
This was first published in August 2007