Blog  |  February 22, 2023

Getting the Message: Modern and Multi-Channel Conversations

As we said back in the very first post in this series, the way we communicate as a society continues to evolve, which not only impacts policies and procedures for how organizations manage platforms supporting communication, but it also impacts eDiscovery technology and workflows associated with those platforms. Each platform – whether it be iOS and Android for mobile devices or Slack, Teams, Zoom and many other chat and collaboration apps – requires a unique workflow to effectively support discovery of data from that platform and there are more platforms than ever to support.

That’s only half the challenge.

The other half of the challenge is managing that discovery in a way where you can understand and evaluate the conversations that take place. When eDiscovery primarily consisted of email and office files, understanding those conversations was relatively easy. Every email provides a thread of the conversation up to that point, which means you can often understand the entire conversation by reading just a few emails and their corresponding attachments.

However, modern communications today are often multi-channel, potentially consisting of email, text message, chat/collaboration app message, web files, and more. Piecing together conversations from multiple potential channels has become somewhat similar to putting together a jigsaw puzzle – only you may not know how many pieces you have or where you will need to go collect them!

Discovery of Modern Communications Today

When the use of email became popular, being connected online all the time wasn’t common. Organizations worked with local copies of files on workstation drives or drives on a local area network. Sharing a file with someone in another office (even in the same organization) meant attaching that file to an email to send it to them. As a result, it became common practice to attach work product files (from Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other platforms) to email communications, and the concept of “document families” (where the email is the “parent” and the attachments are the “children”) has become a standard expectation for legal and eDiscovery professionals.

However, today, driven by (mostly) continuous online connectivity and accelerated by increased remote work during the pandemic, many of our work product files are stored in cloud-based solutions, such as Office 365, G-Suite, Sharepoint, OneDrive, Dropbox, and more. In many cases, we’re sharing those files by linking to them instead of attaching them to an email. This changes the dynamic of what a document “family” is and how it should be handled. It also raises the possibility that the file being linked may be changed significantly or even deleted by the time it’s addressed in discovery.

Not to mention, the “parent” is often different as well. Communications today originate more and more from text, chat, or collaboration apps – each of which has the same capability to include embedded or linked files (including photos, videos, emojis, etc.). In modern communications today, you never know for sure where a conversation will start, what files it may include or where they may be located.

Multi-Channel Communications Today

Here’s one more wrinkle for you to consider: A single conversation may span multiple channels and they may or may not be linked.

Consider this hypothetical scenario: An employee sends an email to his boss with a link to an important report stored in Google Vault. When he doesn’t get an answer to the email, he reaches out to the boss via text to make sure she’s aware of the email and that it’s time sensitive and important. The boss may suggest opening a discussion in Slack among the team to obtain feedback, which may lead to a web meeting in Teams to further the discussion (which is recorded because a couple of team members can’t make the meeting). That could lead to additional discussions in Slack or via email in separate threads that tie to the overall discussion.

You may not fully understand how many pieces there are to the conversation until you follow the communication patterns across all the channels. That’s the challenge of multi-channel communications today.

Bringing Modern and Multi-Channel Communications Together

How do you bring modern and multi-channel communications together? By leveraging analytics technology and the expertise to use that technology to piece together the “jigsaw puzzle” of conversations today and by combining capabilities such as key entity analysis (where the key names and organizations are identified and linked to relevant topics, events, and data points), timeline analysis (identify conversation gaps and anomalies as well as pinpoint critical periods in your data) and communication analysis (analyze patterns and connections in email, chat, messaging, and more) along with the expertise to use these capabilities and the experience to apply them to data within organizations today.


Getting “the message” today is more complex than it has ever been. Understanding the considerations for using mobile devices and chat/collaboration apps as well as the considerations for handling them in discovery is important. But it’s also important to understand the evolution of how we currently communicate because it may impact the sources of communication data we must address in the future. Modern communications are multi-channel and continuing to evolve – you can either embrace the evolution or reject it and fall behind – it’s your choice!

For more regarding Cimplifi data reduction and analytics services, click here.

Don’t miss out on all the blogs in this series! You can still catch up by checking out the links below.

Getting the Message: Modern and Multi-Channel Conversations

Getting the Message: Considerations for Use of Mobile Devices in the Workplace

Getting the Message: Considerations for Discovery of Mobile Device Evidence

Getting the Message: Ten Recent Case Law Rulings Involving Mobile Device Discovery

Getting the Message: Considerations for Using Chat/Collaboration Apps in the Workplace

Getting the Message: Considerations for Discovery of Evidence from Chat/Collaboration Apps

Getting the Message: Ten Recent Case Law Rulings Involving Chat/Collaboration Apps

Getting the Message: Modern and Multi-Channel Conversations