Glowing Expectations? Eighteen Observations on eDiscovery Business Confidence in the Summer of 2021

In the summer of 2021, 63.3% of survey respondents felt that revenue in the next sixth months will be higher than today. This percentage is considerably higher than sentiment on this metric in the spring of 2021 (52.0%) and represents increasing optimism. This is also the highest percentage of respondents believing revenue will be higher in the next sixth months since the inception of the survey in the winter of 2016.

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Content Assessment: Eighteen Observations on eDiscovery Business Confidence in the Summer of 2021

Information - 95%
Insight - 90%
Relevance - 95%
Objectivity - 95%
Authority - 100%

95%

Excellent

A short percentage-based assessment of the qualitative benefit of the recent post highlighting observations on eDiscovery business confidence.

Editor’s Note: The results of the recent Summer 2021 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey present the confidence, challenges, and constraints on the business of eDiscovery through the eyes of industry experts. However, for these results and their potential impact on the business of eDiscovery to be fully understood, they should be viewed through the contextual lens of the results of all twenty-three surveys that have been administered to eDiscovery professionals since the inception of the eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey in early 2016.

Initiated in January 2016, the survey has been administered twenty-three times with 2,522 individual responses. The latest survey was administered in the summer of 2021 and had 90 respondents.

The Business of eDiscovery in the Summer 0f 2021

The eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey is a nonscientific quarterly survey designed to provide insight into the business confidence level of individuals working in the eDiscovery ecosystem. The survey consists of nine core multiple-choice questions focused on factors related to the creation, delivery, and consumption of eDiscovery products and services. Additionally, the survey contains three optional questions focused on the business operational metrics of days sales outstanding (DSO), monthly recurring revenue (MRR), and revenue distribution across customer bases.

Specific survey questions include:

  • Which of the following segments best describes your business in eDiscovery?
  • How would you rate the current general business conditions for eDiscovery in your segment?
  • How do you think the business conditions will be in your segment six months from now?
  • How would you guess revenue in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now?
  • How would you guess profits in your segment of the eDiscovery ecosystem will be six months from now?
  • Of the six items presented below, what is the issue that you feel will most impact the business of eDiscovery over the next six months?
  • In which geographical region do you primarily conduct eDiscovery-related business?
  • What are best describes your primary function in the conduct of your organization’s eDiscovery-related business?
  • What are best describes your level of support in the conduct of your organization’s eDiscovery-related business?
  • How would you characterize the trajectory of your organization’s Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) during the last quarter?
  • How would you characterize the trajectory of your organization’s Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) during the last quarter?
  • Which of the following statements best describes the distribution of your organization’s revenue across your customer base during the last quarter?

The latest survey was administered in the summer of 2021 and had 90 respondents in roles that included executive leadership (31.1%), operational management (43.3%), and tactical execution (25.6%). Industry segments represented in the survey included software and service providers (36.7%), law firms (28.9%), consultancies (13.3%), corporations (11.1%), governmental entities (5.6%), media and research professionals (1.1%), and others (3.3%).

Based on the aggregate results of twenty-three surveys, the following findings and charted overviews of responses to survey questions may help in understanding the collective mindset of many industry experts regarding the business of eDiscovery.

Eighteen Survey Observations

Observations on Business Conditions (Charts 1-4)

Business Climate (Chart 1 and 2)

  • In the summer of 2021, 91.1% of eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey respondents felt the current business conditions are good or normal. This combined confidence level represents a 0.9% decrease in these same feelings when compared to the spring of 2021 where 92.0% felt the conditions were good or normal.
  • Exactly 60.0% of survey respondents characterized the current business climate as good. This represents an increase from 57.0% of respondents who viewed the business climate as good in the spring of 2021. This increase from the spring of 2021 may represent a continued optimism in the current general business climate for eDiscovery.
  • Only 8.9% of respondents classified the current business condition as bad. This represents an increase of 0.9% in this area over the last quarter. This is also the second lowest percentage of respondents viewing the current business conditions as bad since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020.
  • In the summer of 2021, 58.9% of eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey respondents felt that business climate conditions will be better in six months. This is 0.9% decrease from than sentiment in the spring of 2021, when 60.0% of survey respondents felt that the business conditions would be better in six months. However, this is the second highest percentage of respondents who felt that business conditions would be better in six months since the initiation of the survey in the winter of 2016.
  • The number of survey respondents that felt the business conditions will remain the same in six months increased slightly to 38.9%.
  • The number of respondents expecting the business climate of eDiscovery to be worse in six months decreased slightly to 2.2% in the summer of 2021, down 0.8% from the spring of 2021. This percentage of respondents who felt the business climate will be worse in six months appears to portray a decreasing COVID concern regarding business confidence.

Revenue Expectations (Chart 3)

  • In the summer of 2021, 63.3% of survey respondents felt that revenue in the next sixth months will be higher than today. This percentage is considerably higher than sentiment on this metric in the spring of 2021 (52.0%) and represents increasing optimism. This is also the highest percentage of respondents believing revenue will be higher in the next sixth months since the inception of the survey in the winter of 2016.
  • 33.3% of the survey respondents felt that revenue in the next six months would not change. This represents a decrease of 6.7% quarter over quarter from 40.0% in the spring of 2021.
  • The percentage of respondents who felt that revenue in six months will be lower than today decreased to 3.3% in the summer of 2021. This percentage also is the sec0nd lowest percentage of respondents who felt this sentiment in this area since the inception of the survey in the winter 0f 2016.

Profit Expectations (Chart 4)

  • 51.1% of survey respondents felt that profits will be higher in six months than they are today. This is a solid increase from the spring of 2021 when 44.0% of respondents estimated profits to be higher in six months.
  • The percentage of respondents who felt that profits will be the same in six months decreased quarter over quarter from 43.0% in the spring of 2021 to 40.0% in the summer of 2021.
  • The percentage of respondents who felt that profits in six months will be lower than today decreased solidly quarter over quarter, with 8.9% expressing this sentiment in the summer of 2021, as opposed to 13.0% in the spring of 2021. This percentage is the third lowest percentage of respondents with this sentiment in this area since the beginning of the survey in the winter of 2016.

Observations on Business Impact Factors (Chart 5)

  • In the summer of 2021, 24.4% of respondents viewed increasing types of data as potentially having the greatest business impact on their business in the next six months. This percentage is the highest of all concerns represented in the summer 2021 survey. This percentage is also the second-highest rating in the area of increasing types of data concerns since the inception of the survey in the winter of 2016. This is also the fourth time in twenty-three surveys that the issue of increasing types of data has been the top concern or tied for the top concern by survey respondents.
  • The percentage of respondents that viewed increasing volumes of data as a top business concern increased in the last quarter from 19.0% in the spring of 2021 to 20.0% in the summer of 2021. This is the highest rating in the area of data volume concerns since the summer of 2016 survey.
  • Lack of personnel continued to be a consistent concern for eDiscovery professionals with 20.0% of summer 2021 survey respondents viewing lack of personnel challenges as potentially having a substantial impact on business in the next six months. This was a strong increase in this area from the 11.0% response rate in the spring 2021 survey.
  • The percentage of respondents that viewed budgetary constraints as a top business issue decreased 7.2% from the last quarter and is now viewed as the top concern by 17.8% of survey respondents.
  • The impact of data security on eDiscovery business performance strongly decreased during the last quarter and is now the top concern for 8.9% of respondents, down from 14.0% in the spring of 2021.
  • In the summer of 2021, the impact of inadequate technology as the top business issue decreased slightly by 0.1% from the last quarter and is now viewed as the top concern by 8.9% of survey respondents. This is the lowest rating of any business performance impact concern in the summer 2021 survey. It is also is the twenty-first time in twenty-three surveys that the impact of inadequate technology has been rated as the lowest area of business performance concern by survey respondents.

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.

1 - General Climate Overview Aggregate - Summer 2021

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.

2 - General Climate Overview + Six Months - Aggregate - Summer 2021

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.

3 - Revenue Overview + Six Months - Aggregate - Summer 2021

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.

4 - Profits Overview + Six Months - Aggregate - Summer 2021

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

5 - Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance - Aggregate - Summer 2021

Chart 6: Survey Participant Overview

6 - Survey Respondents (Individual and Aggregate Overview) - Summer 2021

Chart 7: Survey Participant Level of Support Overview

7 - Survey Respondents by Level of Support - Aggregate - Summer 2021

Chart 8: Survey Participant Industry Segment Overview

8 - Survey Respondents by Industry Segment - Aggregate - Summer 2021

Past Survey Results

Additional Reading

Source: ComplexDiscovery

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ComplexDiscovery is an online publication that highlights cyber, data and legal discovery insight and intelligence ranging from original research to aggregated news for use by business, information technology, and legal professionals. The highly targeted publication seeks to increase the collective understanding of readers regarding cyber, data and legal discovery information and issues and to provide an objective resource for considering trends, technologies, and services related to electronically stored information.

ComplexDiscovery OÜ is a technology marketing firm providing strategic planning and tactical execution expertise in support of cyber, data and legal discovery organizations. Registered as a private limited company in the European Union country of Estonia, one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world, ComplexDiscovery OÜ operates virtually worldwide to deliver marketing consulting and services.

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