In our first post in this series, we discussed how eDiscovery technology and workflows are being applied to several different use cases today. According to eDiscovery Today’s 2023 State of the Industry Report, seven use cases are being applied by at least 40% of 410 survey respondents.
One of the use cases for eDiscovery technology and workflows is information governance. While information governance is not one of the seven use cases mentioned above – it just missed the cut at 36.6% of respondents – the relationship between information governance and eDiscovery is still significant and warrants discussion. After all, information governance is the foundation of all data-related activities within an organization, including eDiscovery! In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of a strong information governance program on eDiscovery workflows and how eDiscovery technology and workflows can facilitate your information governance program.
The Importance of Information Governance
Just about every organization is inundated with data today. You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “Big Data” – that term reflects the large, hard-to-manage volumes of data – both structured and unstructured – that organizations must manage every day. According to Statista, the amount of data in the world has grown from 2 zettabytes in 2010 to about 120 zettabytes today. It’s expected to rise to 181 zettabytes by 2025! And the estimates for future data growth continue to trend upward.
Much of the data within organizations isn’t useful data – it can be considered Redundant, Obsolete or Trivial (ROT) Data, as follows:
- Redundant Data: Duplicate data stored in multiple places within the same system or across multiple systems.
- Trivial Data: Data that does not need to be kept, because it doesn’t contribute to important business objectives, corporate knowledge, business insight, or record-keeping requirements.
- Obsolete Data: Data that has outlived its useful purpose.
Eliminating ROT data and identifying useful information within an organization’s data is where an information governance program becomes important. Information governance is a strategic, multi-disciplinary approach to managing and using information that is designed to support an organization’s immediate and future business, regulatory, legal, risk, environmental, and operational requirements. The primary goal of information governance is to ensure that information is effectively managed throughout its lifecycle – from creation or receipt of that information through disposal of it – to support various stakeholder groups within the organization. That approach and objective are reflected within EDRM’s Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM) which reflect that lifecycle and usage of information.
A look at how the EDRM model has evolved over the years illustrates how important information governance has become to eDiscovery. The very first iteration of the EDRM model back in 2005 didn’t even have a spot for information governance. When it was added in 2009, it was first added as “information management” and was just another box on the far left of the model. EDRM didn’t decide to change information management to information governance and make it a circle until 2014 – that circle represents the fact the information governance is perpetual, unlike the rest of the EDRM life cycle, which has a beginning (Identification) and an end (Presentation). Today, the EDRM model contains the IGRM model within it as the information governance “circle”.
How eDiscovery Technology and Workflows Can Facilitate Your Information Governance Program
Information governance may be the foundation of all data-related activities within an organization, including eDiscovery. However, many of the analytical workflows applied during eDiscovery to develop an understanding of the data within a case can also be applied to data within your organization to better understand that data and it can also identify ROT data to be eliminated. Examples of eDiscovery analytical workflows that can be applied to information governance include:
- Concept Clustering: Just as concept clustering can be applied to a document collection to support eDiscovery use cases like litigation, it can also be applied to an organization’s document collection to identify related documents and data points faster and more efficiently to help identify potential ROT documents that can be eliminated and important documents that should be protected and secured.
- Communication Analysis: The ability to analyze patterns and connections within your organization’s email, chat, and messaging archives can enable the organization to proactively identify issues, such as harassment, fraud, or other corporate malfeasance, addressing these issues as quickly as possible.
- Contract Analytics: Applying analysis workflows to contracts enables organizations to extract key information and insights from their collection of contracts to gain a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s contractual obligations, liabilities, and rights.
- Sensitive Data Identification: Analytics can also be used to proactively identify personal and sensitive data within an organization, such as personally identifiable information (PII), so that it can be protected against potential cyberattacks.
eDiscovery technology and workflows were developed to help understand a document and data collection to make key decisions quickly, which is exactly what they can do when applied to your organization’s document and data collections!
While information governance was not one of the top seven use cases in eDiscovery Today’s State of the Industry report, it is still an important and emerging use case for eDiscovery technology and workflows. Just as information governance is the foundation of eDiscovery, applying eDiscovery technology and workflows to your organization’s data can facilitate information governance!
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In case you missed the other blogs in this series, Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Use Cases for eDiscovery Today, you can find them here:
- Blog #1: Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Use Cases for eDiscovery Today
- Blog #2: Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Considerations for Arbitration
- Blog #3: Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Considerations for Investigations
- Blog #4: Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Considerations for Incident Response:
- Blog #5: Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Considerations for Privacy Requests
- Blog #6: Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Considerations for Government Information Requests
- Blog #7: Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Considerations for HSR Second Requests
- Blog #8: Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Considerations for Information Governance
- Blog #9: Why Use a Hammer When You Can Use a Swiss Army Knife?: Considerations for Litigation