Exploring the Secondary ROI of Discovery Purchases – DLP, Archiving, Endpoint Security

                In looking back at the earliest generations of Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), Business Analytics and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) products, we can see a wasteland of interesting technology that was too early for the market. We are now seeing the hints of resurgence in products adjacent to enterprise discovery based on the ‘secondary benefits’ of corporate archiving, preservation and collection. Basically, corporations seem to be recognizing that the infrastructure required to establish an efficient, defensible discovery process can and should be leveraged to provide other business functionality.

In recent blogs, I have talked about how these early enterprise analytic products have tried to transform themselves into eDiscovery ‘solutions’ with mixed results. It is sometimes the secondary analytical features of these products that can provide an unexpected ROI far beyond the discovery compliance driver that got the budget out of legal. Although opposing counsel and many courts are not yet ready to rely exclusively on conceptual search and other ‘black box’ (i.e. not easily understood) technologies to winnow the wheat from the ESI chaff, these systems can dramatically reduce the cost of review and provide essential QA for Boolean criteria.

More relevant to IT, HR and Compliance needs, enterprise systems can be leveraged to shape data management policies, enforce computer/messaging usage policies and monitor a growing concern, Data Loss Prevention (DLP). These peripheral usage scenarios have not been a big enough pain point to drive widespread adoptions and budget allocation outside of tightly regulated verticals, but they are happy to make use of the new enterprise applications and appliances funded by legal.

In fact, the fastest ROI on search or archiving platforms frequently comes from resolving potential litigation through Early Case Assessment searches. I recall answering a simple request from a new director regarding the communications over a multi-million dollar contract by the former director. The company had just finished loading all the old email from tapes into an archive to comply with a discovery request, so we had everything possible online. The savings from finding that one email clearly expressing the mutual understanding of a term saved the company twice the price of the archive system. Instant ROI that had nothing to do with the original purpose of the system.

The biggest potential benefit of conceptual filters and categorization engines is to shift the corporation’s capability to a proactive stance, rather than a reactive response. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is all about preventing critical trade secrets and confidential information from reaching the wrong eyes. The same technology that helps review teams catch potentially privileged email before they are produced can be used to stop your pricing lists and source code from leaving the domain. With the widest ESI type capability, it is not surprising to hear that Autonomy’s IDOL platform is used by a majority of the DLP market leaders. The focus is on the messaging systems, but endpoint control and enterprise encryption are also starting to make sales, again driven by the complexity of collecting and preserving ESI from user desktops. So when legal is fighting for budget to address a discovery gap, it is critical to involve the other departments who have a vested interest in gaining these new capabilities and slowly moving the corporation towards the goal of true information management.

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