Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Stuck in the Past

Remember rotary phones? Black & white tv? Vinyl albums? While these have all been long ago replaced by better solutions, there are still many of them in actual use today. It’s hard to imagine, but did you know that the old touch phone (last updated in 1968) is still being produced and sold today1?

I am mentioning this because it is analogous to what is going on with electronic discovery and duplicate files. Up to 10% of electronic discovery populations are never de-duped at all, according to a recent survey of top EDD providers. Valora was fortunate to participate in the survey and see early access to its results, but they weren’t pretty. It seems that nearly half of all electronic discovery populations get, at best, a simple within custodian de-dupe effort, while the results of cross-custodian de-duping are clearly spelled out in financial terms.

Why is this? Is it just that some customers are obstinate and refuse to try anything new? I doubt it. I think it is the same reason that people still use their rotary phones and listen to records. They are comfortable, familiar, safe and well understood. Simple removal of duplicates inside a single custodian, or no removal of duplicates is comfortable and easy to understand. Furthermore, it cements the idea that all files or documents need to be assessed individually – a belief that the legal community seems terrified to let go, even though all signs point to its eventual demise. Those who would cling to no de-duping or inferior de-duping are the same people who will avoid population analytics and automated review. Be glad they practice law and not medicine.

PS. In case you were wondering: Almost 1 billion vinyl albums were sold in 2007, up 15% from 20062.


[1] Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_500_telephone

[2] Source: Time magazine http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1702369,00.html