Illumination Zone: Episode 109 | Ethan Treese sits down with Kaylee & Mary

About this Podcast

Ethan Treese, IPRO’s Chief Commercial Officer, joined the leadership team at EDRM – Mary Mack and Kaylee Walstad – to talk about the NEW IPRO and the big challenges we’re helping customers tackle. It’s a must-listen. Enjoy!

Podcast Transcript

Mary: Hello and welcome to the EDRM global Podcast Network and the Illumination Zone. My name is Mary Mack, I’m the CEO at EDRM. I’m here today with Kaylee Walstad, EDRM’s Chief Strategy Officer. Welcome, Kaylee.

Kaylee: Hey, Mary, it is great to be here. And we do have a super exciting guest who I have been so looking forward to learning more about.

Mary: Same, and we want to welcome our very special guest, Ethan Treese. Welcome, Ethan.

Ethan: Well, Thank you. I’m really excited to be here and appreciate your time.

Mary: Absolutely and for our listeners, before joining our wonderful trusted partner IPRO, Treese served as the executive vice president for the Americas for Nuix, where he led the North American market. Previously held a number of executive roles at Dun and Bradstreet, where he worked closely with executives and policymakers across large enterprises and government. Kaylee, don’t you have some questions for our friend Ethan?

Kaylee: Yeah, so one of the questions that we always ask our new guests and our listening audience loves it as a way to sort of get to know you is that we’ve all had long and winding roads to eDiscovery. And so tell us a little bit, I’m sure when you left your university, you weren’t thinking to yourself, oh, I’m going to get into eDiscovery. So tell us a little bit about what you were hoping to do and how you came to be in the eDiscovery field.

Ethan: Yeah, Thank you. Thank you for that. And you’re right on that account. I was not thinking back in my University days I’ve got to can’t wait to get into eDiscovery, which at that point I’m dating myself. There was not a lot of eDiscovery at that point, but it was just discovery. So, yeah, look, I’ve had a long and tenured career at Dun and Bradstreet doing a variety of different types of things. Really, what was attractive to me at that point was how do you leverage data and technology to solve a bunch of different types of problems? And so what I liked was the extensibility of leveraging data and technology to help somebody be compliant, and whether it’s Foreign Corrupt Practices or other sorts of compliance, I like the ability to understand what was going on within a supply chain to be able to identify and manage risk. I like working with large organizations on the front end of the business and think about the dynamics from the graphics of their customer base and how they can think about how to work with each one of those and go attract new ones. So data and technology together can solve a variety of different types of things. And so it was natural for me. And to be fair, when I got a call from my previous employer in Nuix, I had never heard of them because I was not as familiar with the industry. But similarly, what attracted me was the challenges that we could solve, leveraging that technology and data across globally and across different types of segments such as government, corporations, law firms, advisors and service providers. And so I’ve been in the industry 6 and 1/2 years. Certainly I know a lot more about it than I did then. But fundamentally, as I think about how I work with our team and how I work with our customers, ultimately it starts with what is the problem a customer is trying to solve and how can we help them solve that problem? And so my background in date and technology, I think, lends itself well to this industry.

Mary: Well, it certainly does. And so you’re deeply steeped in our eDiscovery world. And now now you’ve joined IPRO. Tell us tell us about that decision. Why IPRO?

Ethan: Yeah, thanks. It’s a good one for sure. You know, as it relates to IPRO, there are the normal and foundational elements that I think most people look at when they’re going to go do something new. So for me, it’s, you know, a few things. Is it something I could wake up in the morning and get excited about and learn and grow. Kind of build upon the foundation of knowledge that I have and go learn and grow and get better. Two: you’ll want to do something that makes a big difference for people solving big, big challenges. And so until proven otherwise, I think you only get to go around this place one time. And so I want to spend my time in areas that I think I can make a difference. And then third, which is hugely important, do I like for people in the culture? So I used to work with a gentleman by the name of Paul, who was a big data and analytics guy, and I saw some of these things I work when I’ve worked with folks, stick with me. So he would always stick with it are they smart and are they nice? So hire smart and nice. And so as I think about the team at IPRO and that I was spending time with on the way in, as well as some of our private equity partners, I really the check and check on both of those smart and nice. I like working with them a lot. Agile, innovative, know the industry well, collaborate incredibly effectively together, put the customer at the center. And so all those three things are the things that really stuck out for me is kind of table stakes. But yeah, it was much more than I thought as peeled the onion back and I found two things that struck me. The fact is that it was a much different IPRO than I thought or frankly, that the market at large knows about. And then secondly, it quickly in my mind evolved to ah this is a new IPRO with a much more robust set of capabilities. So over the last couple of years, we’ve made some important acquisitions, namely NetGovern and ZyLAB. So both of those organizations have joined the IPRO family in the last couple of years. And so what that means is the markets that we can serve and the problems that we help solve have grown tremendously. NetGovern, of course, specializes in agile information, governments, governance. And so they bring not only this robust set of solutions, but really deep industry expertise that help a lot of our customers. And then ZyLAB is based out of Amsterdam, but has a really strong customer presence in the U.S. as well. They’ve brought additional advanced eDiscovery and then legal hold capabilities. So if you think about it, you know, there was a time when the IPRO name only met kind of information processing. And for us today it means the only fully integrated EDRM platform on the market. So one that can offer you unmatched scale and efficiency across information governance and eDiscovery needs. And so I think many of our customers are still from a mindset perspective are many people that think about IPRO are probably thinking about the 2015 IPRO, IPRO does x. And so part of my opportunity and challenge and frankly mission this year is to kind of uncover this, this hidden gem in terms of the capabilities that we have to offer. Because what we find when we work with customers is oftentimes their reaction is “I had no idea you did all of that. I wish I knew sooner.”

Kaylee: That’s not surprising. And we were so excited that our ZyLAB family was acquired by IPRO. Mary and I both are alums of ZyLAB, are huge fans of the team and the technology it’s amazing.

Ethan: Well, I appreciate that. I second that wholeheartedly. I found the team to be awesome, and I’ve found the technology to be great. I found them to be hugely collaborative. The customers that they have and in Europe, in the U.S., love the technology, love the team. So I’m really excited about it. As well. And so we love to have some ZyLAB alumni on the phone here with me.

Kaylee: But we also had a great demo from the uber talented Jeffrey Wolff on your NetGovern acquisition.

Ethan: Yep.

Kaylee: Mary, do you want to talk a little bit about what was cool about that? Because you were like, “oh, my word.

Mary: Oh, yeah, what I would call a Federated search, a true federate being able to search endpoints without dimming the lights and in enterprise.

Ethan: Yeah

Mary: I just I was just jazzed up about that.

Ethan: Yeah

Mary: That was my favorite thing.

Ethan: Yeah, I. You hit on something. We’re going to come to in a second I think with their Live EDA solution. That’s AI powered software that allows you to analyze search review data in place for collection to save you a lot of time. Save you a lot of money, enables you to not have to leverage IT across the board as well to get the answers. So we’re really excited about that. And I’ve seen a lot of customers bring that on board in the last 12 months. We think it’s a differentiator for us, for sure.

Kaylee: It is. And it was also lightning fast, Ethan. We were very, very impressed and Jeffrey was so excited and wanted to show it to us. So, I mean, what you guys have going on and going into 2023 is very exciting and we are excited to work excited to work with you and your team.

Ethan: Well, I appreciate it. And props to Jeffrey as well. He is certainly top notch. I think a good example of as you think about organizations. I mean, certainly for us, the most important part of our organization is the people that work here. And Jeffrey is, I think, just a great example of a person who’s been in the industry a while, as we talked about before. He does an amazing job of blending in the business development, the technology together to be able to take what can seem at times like complex technology, even though it’s not and boil it down to simple answers like, “Ah, here’s what I got out of it. Here’s the problem it solves.” And that’s a gift, but really a good indication of the type of talented people we have at IPRO. We’re blessed to have people like him here.

Kaylee: Absolutely and moving on, since we are in January of 2023, we’ve been asking our guests for an industry prediction. Predictions? What do you see Ethan happening this year?

Ethan: Yeah, boy there’s a lot of those out there. I think it’s a good question for sure. Why don’t I start at the macro level. So I think, you know, let’s talk about the economy. I think it’s going to continue to be a challenging economy with, you know, continued higher interest rate headwinds and continued turbulence. There’ll be some bright spots obviously as well. And I’m an optimist by nature. I think this is just, you know, we’re going to get a bit of trough we’ve got to fight through it. Secondly, I think that macro picture forces organizations to worry more about things like cash and to look for ways to do more with less. And so as we’ve seen, the work doesn’t actually go away. In fact, the work stacks up. I think we saw that with COVID. It’s just a whole new set of things for IT to deal with, for legal to deal with. Organizations are just challenge to find better, faster, cheaper ways to do things which I think can breed innovation and new ways of thinking as well. And so for us, we think that plays really well into our sweet spot where we offer solutions that can save organizations, lots of time, lots of money, in some cases, several hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more over incumbent solutions. And so for us, I think what we have is that we have what most people need at a price that they can afford or that’s a lot more cost effective than what they use today. And so I think about that on a macro level and how that applies to IPRO. If I dial it down to an industry level, you know I think the litigation market in North America leaves is one that’s pretty inelastic and holds up generally well. We are a naturally litigious society. I don’t see that changing that much any time soon. And so compared to some other industries I think we’ll hold up reasonably well. I do think there are some things to think about, certainly. I think for corporations, you’ll be pressured to do things better and faster with less, which means greater focus on, “how do I get the same or better result faster, hopefully cheaper.” And then if you’re a general counsel, of course, hire the right seat at the table to be able to manage enterprise risk. And so I think the role of the GC and CFO in particular in the next 12 months are going to elevate. And that’s something I think we in the industry just need to be cognizant of as we’re working through solving challenges. If you’re a law firm, I think, how do you differentiate and innovate with your clients who will probably be asking to partner with them to find new ways of doing things? If you’re a service provider, like many of the men we work with, I think it’s the same thing in many ways. And how do you probably move far to the left along the EDRM in a way that’s more value add and more upstream? And then if you’re a technology provider like us, you know how we build great software and support for all of the above. And then lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest I think we’ll continue to see consolidation in the market and a combination of capabilities that can unlock new value and opportunities for folks. I think we’ve seen that over the course of the last few years. I think we’ll continue to see that here this year as well.

Kaylee: Oh, I’m excited to hear that last point because the last quarter, Rob Robinson of complex discovery does a quarterly M&A+I report in our sector and it actually that activity was down to 2015 levels just for our Q4. So what you see is, “OK, don’t expect that it’s going to be stagnant.”

Ethan: I think that’s right. I think you’ll see activity. I think what you see and I read and I like that the report kind of gives you a good history and lay of the land. I think what you’re seeing there is the effect of the macroeconomic impact, as we’ve talked about with particularly with the cost of money. And so I think that people are taking have taken kind of a wait and see type of approach. And there’s no doubt there are transactions that folks probably would have liked to have done in Q4. But with the cost of money, you see valuations come down and makes people reevaluate, “where are we going?” But look, I think I think the combinations that makes sense to occur will continue to occur. I don’t think necessarily yet, you know, maybe 2020 levels and 2021 levels or 2022 levels where money was a lot cheaper. But I have no doubt we’ll continue to see a consolidation of this industry, although in some sector we seem to be running out of things to consolidate if I’m being completely honest. That should be interesting for sure.

Mary: Interesting interesting. And so with these economic headwinds and then our community response to them, what are you most looking forward to, Ethan, in 2023?

Ethan: Is that a personal or professional question.

Mary: Oh, you can take it. You could take it both ways.

Ethan: Well, it’s a good question. In the more immediately I’m looking forward to my ski trip to Utah at the beginning of March. That’s something I’m looking forward to, for sure. But putting that my personal pleasures aside, but look, I’ve spent the last I’ve have been at IPRO 70 days-ish, I think. My focus has been in three areas: team, customers and our product. As I said before, I think we are a great team, knowledgeable, strong industry expertise, really customer focused. They care for one another. I think our customers are awesome. I’m looking forward to spending more time with them. Have some already. I’m looking forward to the customer events. We’re having one in Houston here in about a month and we’ll have other regional events. And as we talked about before, looking forward to the Legalweek as well. And so really looking forward to spending our time, more time with our customers and talking about the new IPRO as we like to think about the IPRO that people don’t know about. And then third, you know, as I talked about before, our product is much more robust than I think is known in the market. Just a couple of months ago, we were put in the leaders category at IDC well above some of our competitors. We’re highly rated above most of our competitors on G2. And that’s not us saying it, that’s our customers saying it, that’s industry experts saying it. And so I’m looking forward to going out and talking to more and more folks about the capabilities that we can bring to bear and that can help them solve some of their problems. How do we get to the answer I need faster? How can I do this at some in a way that fits my budget, or allows me to save several hundred thousand dollars. How do I not have to get IT involved every time I want to get to some of my data? Which let’s face it, we all love IT people, but not that much. So, if I can self-serve and have control, then how do I do that then? And so I think I’m excited about those things and the story that we have to tell and the evolution that I think will be the next chapter of IPRO and as I mentioned before, this Live EDA solution that many organizations have implemented over the last 12 months of AI powered software that allows you to analyze, search or review data in place before collection. So that significantly reduces downstream data volumes, risk, time. That’s a game changer I think for us. And what we’ve seen from our customers is a lot of excitement about that as well. And so I think now more than ever, as I look at our customers and our partners, there’s an opportunity for us to do more with them, to help them. So I’m excited about that. Now, I’m still excited about my Utah ski trip to be completely honest.

Kaylee: Fantastic and with that, Mary, back to you.

Mary: All right. We could talk all day, Ethan, and we will talk again. But this does conclude our podcast for today.

Ethan: I appreciate it. Love spending time with both of you. Love learning that you’re ZyLAB alumni as well. I like you even more now than I did before, not sure if that’s possible. That’s awesome.

Mary: Well, EDRM thanks you and our wonderful trusted partner, IPRO, the new IPRO, for making their insights available to our EDRM community. We thank all of you for listening and tune in next week for more Illumination Zone on the EDRM global Podcast Network. Thank you.

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