A Cooling of Confidence? 18 Observations on Summer 2018 eDiscovery Business Confidence

Summer 2018 eDiscovery Confidence: Survey respondents appear to have a slightly less optimistic view of the business climate this quarter than they did last quarter.


Article by Rob Robinson

The Business of eDiscovery in the Summer of 2018

Initiated in January of 2016, the eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey is a non-scientific quarterly survey designed to provide insight into the business confidence level of individuals working in the eDiscovery ecosystem. The survey consists of nine multiple choice questions focused on factors related to the creation, delivery, and consumption of eDiscovery products and services. The survey is open to legal, business, and information technology professionals operating in the eDiscovery ecosystem and individuals are invited to participate by ComplexDiscovery primarily via direct email invitations. 

The survey has been administered eleven times since January 2016, with 1,108 individuals responses. The role makeup of responders in the eleven surveys includes executive leadership (42.1%), operational management (31.8%), and tactical execution professionals (26.1%).

The latest survey was administered in the Summer of 2018. Based on the latest survey viewed through the results of past surveys, the following key observations were noted:

Eighteen Survey Observations

Observations on Business Conditions (Charts 1-4)

Business Climate (Chart 1 and 2)

  • More than half of survey responders (53%) continued to view the current eDiscovery business conditions as good. This represents a strong decrease quarter over quarter and is approximately the same as Summer 2017 survey results and higher than Summer 2016 survey results.
  • Responders who viewed the current eDiscovery business climate as normal continued to hover around the 40% mark (39.4%). This represents an appreciable increase quarter over quarter and is similar (+/- 3%) to the Summer 2016 and 2017 survey results.
  • Only 7.6% of survey responders felt that the current eDiscovery business climate was bad. This rating is congruent with the last two quarters and highlights that more than 92% of responders ranked current conditions positively (good or normal). This also is slightly higher than Summer 2017 survey results and significantly lower than Summer 2016 results.
  • Responders who feel that business conditions will be better in six months remained the same quarter over quarter and was higher than the responses in the Summer of 2016 and in the Summer of 2017.
  • The number of those who feel that the business climate will be the same in six months as today was slightly higher quarter over quarter and was lower than the Summers of 2016 and 2017.
  • The number of those expecting the business climate of eDiscovery to be worse in six months than today decreased quarter over quarter and was lower than the Summer of 2017 and higher than the responses in the Summer of 2016. However, even at its highest level in all surveys (Summer of 2017), it still consists of only approximately 7% of responders expressing this sentiment.

Revenue Expectations (Chart 3)

  • In the Summer of 2018, 57.6% of survey responders feel that revenue in the next six months will be higher than today. This percentage is a slight quarter over quarter drop, yet significantly higher than responder views in the Summer of 2016 or Summer of 2017.
  • At its lowest rate since the Summer of 2017, 34.8% of responders feel that revenue will remain the same over the next six months. This represents four quarters in a row for the rate to drop and in the second lowest rate in the eleven quarters of the survey.
  • The percentage of responders who feel that revenue in six months will be lower than today increased quarter over quarter and reached it highest point since the Winter of 2017. While slightly higher than Summer of 2017 results, the number is lower than those presented in the Summer of 2016.

Profit Expectations (Chart 4)

  • 45.5% of responders in the Summer of 2018 feel that profits will be higher in six months than they are today. This change is a noticeable drop from the Spring 2018 survey where confidence in profits in six months was the highest (53%) since the initiation of the survey.
  • Responders feeling that profits will be the same in six months as today increased strongly quarter over quarter, yet was lower than the results of the Summer 2016 and Summer 2017 surveys.
  • The percentage of responders who feel profits in six months will be lower than today decreased quarter over quarter to 12.1% of survey participants. This concern is lower now than in the Summer of 2016, but higher than in the Summer of 2017.

Observations on Business Impact Factors (Chart 5)

  • Budgetary Constraints continue to be a primary eDiscovery business concern with 22.7% of survey responders noting it as their top concern.
  • The business impact of Increasing Types of Data increased quarter over quarter and reached its highest point since the Summer of 2017 and its second-highest point since the inception of the survey.
  • Data Security concerns increased quarter over quarter, reaching its highest level of survey responder concern since the Winter of 2016.  This concern is higher now than in Summer 2016 and Summer 2017 surveys.
  • The impact of Increasing Volumes of Data on eDiscovery business continued a quarter over quarter decrease after reaching 30% in the Winter of 2018. While still a major concern for 16.7% of survey responders, this concern is at its lowest point since the inception of the survey.
  • The Lack of Personnel as a major impact factor for eDiscovery business increased quarter over quarter to a rate of 13.6% in the Summer of 2018. This rate is slightly lower than the Summer of 2016 and significantly lower than in the Summer of 2017.
  • The impact of Inadequate Technology on eDiscovery business decreased strongly quarter over quarter, representing a top concern for only 6.1% of survey responders. This is significantly lower than concerns in this area in the Summer of 2016 and the Summer of 2017.

Survey Charts

(Charts Can Be Expanded for Detailed Viewing)

Chart 1: How would you rate the current general business conditions for eDiscovery in your segment?
Subjective feeling of business performance when compared with business expectations.

Climate Overview - Current

Chart 2: How do you think the business conditions will be in your segment six months from now?
Subjective feeling of business performance when compared with business expectations.

Climate Overview + Six Months

Chart 3: How would you guess revenue in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now? Revenue is income generated from eDiscovery-related business activities.

Revenue Overview + Six Months

Chart 4: How would you guess profits in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now? Profit is the amount of income remaining after accounting for all expenses, debts, additional revenue streams, and operating costs.

Profits Overview + Six Months

Chart 5: An Aggregate Overview of Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance Challenges that may directly impact the business performance of your organization.

Issues Impacting Business

Chart 6: Survey Participant Overview

Survey Overview - Participants 2016-2018

eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey Meta Results

Provided for download from the following link is a high-level spreadsheet (PDF) highlighting all survey responses since the initiation of the survey in January of 2016.

Download the Meta Results

Running Listing of Survey Results

Source: Original Research

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