It’s hard to believe this is still a topic in 2022, but according to industry thought leader Rob Robinson’s eDiscovery Market Size Mashup: 2020-2025 Worldwide Software and Services Overview, the split between eDiscovery solutions being on-prem or in the cloud is right at 50/50 for 2021, which leaves a significant chunk of the market still not utilizing the benefits of a SaaS eDiscovery solution.
Change is Hard
There are several reasons given for why an on-prem eDiscovery solution might be used (data security is probably the number one answer), but I think a lot of it is simply that change is hard (which is the idea behind this month’s eDiscovery Blues comic).
The thought of the workflow disruption that comes with implementation, case data transfer, training, etc., is enough to make anyone say, “We’re doing fine with what we have.”
But “doing fine” is relative. It’s amazing what you can learn to live with.
Years ago, during my college teaching days, the Q stopped working on my laptop (I think one of my toddlers dripped soda on it). I decided a new computer wasn’t in my budget. So, when I wrote, if I came across a word that needed a Q, I just thought of a synonym and went on.
If I couldn’t find a good replacement word, I used the “insert character” function and kept writing. It wasn’t ideal. It took a little extra time and effort. But I got used to it. This went on for months. Then the N key stopped working and my work-around was no longer tenable. Miraculously, I discovered I did have the budget and bought a new computer within a few days.
This is a great analogy for what happens with many legal teams and their legacy eDiscovery solutions.
Still, you might be asking, what’s so great about cloud eDiscovery vs. your old on-prem solution?
Have you ever had a device like a TV or media player that wasn’t connected to WiFi for a period of time? It continued to function, but maybe it had small hiccups, shut down randomly, stalled during uploads, and then, when you connected to WiFi again, everything updated and it ran like a new machine. The same thing happens to your eDiscovery software when implemented on-prem. There are no updates unless your IT team and software provider do them manually. And if your software is older, updates may no longer be available. With SaaS eDiscovery platforms, you don’t have to worry about it. Upgrades happen automatically and without the need of a dedicated IT department.
Most legal teams have an average caseload and an average data size per caseload, so they purchase their eDiscovery solution accordingly. But now and again, a big case comes along and it has the data to match. If you’re running an on-prem solution, you’ll probably have to rely on an outside service provider, which can stretch timelines, increase cost, and add data risk. But if you’re running your own SaaS eDiscovery solution, it’s completely scalable when it comes to caseloads and data sizes, so you won’t miss a beat.
Many legacy eDiscovery programs don’t include the newer analytics available in SaaS solutions. And if they do, they may not have been upgraded in a while (see #1 above).You can purchase analytics packages to overlay legacy solutions or use an outside service provider, but as with the scalability issue mentioned in #2, this can increase time, risk, and cost. With a SaaS upgrade, you get the latest in email threading, near-duplication and entity search functions, concept clustering, and AI-driven search. What’s more, you can often customize the analytics you want, so you’re not paying for a Cadillac when you only need a Honda.
With the mass shift to a remote workforce in 2020, and the continued trend of keeping workplaces mobile and flexible, the issue of access is huge. If you’re operating an on-prem eDiscovery system, then its very nature keeps access limited to location. SaaS systems allow you to log on anywhere using any browser, they’re secure, and data uploads are self-service, so there is no need for additional and specialized personnel to get the job done.
Finally, the subscription model of SaaS eDiscovery platforms gives you cost predictability (and often savings) when it comes to your legal team. If you’re a law firm, this allows you to pass on the transparency and cost reduction to your clients allowing you to compete more effectively in today’s market.
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