An Article by Rob Robinson
Budgetary Constraints: A Current Concern for eDiscovery Professionals
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 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.
Initiated in January 2016, to date the survey has been administered sixteen times with 1,771 individual responses. The survey is open to legal, business, and information technology professionals operating in the eDiscovery ecosystem and individuals are invited to participate primarily via direct email invitations.
The latest survey was administered in the fall of 2019 and had 150 respondents in roles that included executive leadership (30.0%), operational management (35.3%), and tactical execution (34.7%).
One of the questions in the quarterly survey asks participants to select from a listing of six issues the issue they view as potentially having the most impact on their eDiscovery business during the next six months. The issues presented include:
- Budgetary Constraints
- Increasing Types of Data
- Data Security
- Increasing Volumes of Data
- Lack of Personnel
- Inadequate Technology
While not all-inclusive, the listing of issues provides a realistic overview of potential areas that appear to have a direct and ongoing impact on the business of eDiscovery.
Based on the aggregate results of past surveys, the following findings and charted overviews of responses to the question of issues impacting business may be helpful in understanding the collective mindset of many industry experts regarding these issues and their impact on the business of eDiscovery.
Seven Key Findings in the Fall of 2019
- In the fall of 2019, 24.0% of respondents viewed increasing budgetary constraints 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 survey and also is the ninth time in sixteen surveys that this issue has been rated as the top concern. (Charts 1 and 2)
- The percentage of respondents that viewed budgetary constraints as a top business concern decreased in the last quarter, decreasing as a concern by 3.2% from 27.2% in the summer of 2019 to 24.0% in the fall of 2019. (Chart 3)
- The percentage of respondents viewing the impact of increasing types of data as a top business issue increased slightly in the last quarter and is now viewed as the top concern by 21.3% of fall 2019 survey respondents. This is the third quarter in a row this concern has increased and it continues to represent a critical concern for survey participants. (Chart 4)
- Increasing data volumes continue to be a great concern for eDiscovery professionals with 19.3% of fall survey respondents viewing data volume challenges as potentially having a substantial impact on business in the next six months. This is a decrease from the previous quarter when this concern was viewed as the second-highest concern for potentially impacting business in the next six months. (Chart 5)
- The impact of a lack of personnel on eDiscovery business performance increased slightly during the last quarter and is the top concern for 13.3% of survey respondents. This is also the third quarter in a row this issue has increased as a concern for survey respondents. (Chart 6)
- The percentage of respondents viewing the impact of data security as a top business issue increased 1.7% from the last quarter and is now viewed as the top concern by 13.3% of survey respondents. (Chart 7)
- In the fall of 2019, the impact of inadequate technology as the top business issue increased 3.5% from the last quarter and is now viewed as the top concern by 8.7% of survey respondents. This is the lowest rating of this issue as a concern by survey respondents in the fall survey and the third quarter in a row that this issue has had the lowest rating in the survey. (Chart 8)
Considering Sixteen Quarters of Results from 2016 to 2019
From a top issue perspective, the following potential issues and the number of quarterly times they have been considered the top concern by survey respondents is shared to create context as to the cyclical concerns of eDiscovery professionals.
- Budgetary Constraints: The top concern nine times in sixteen quarters (3x Winter*, 2x Spring, 2x Summer, 2x Fall).
- Increasing Volumes of Data: The top concern six times in sixteen quarters (2x Winter*, 2x Spring, 1x Summer, 1x Fall).
- Data Security: Never ranked as the top concern.
- Increasing Types of Data: The top concern two times in sixteen quarters (1x Summer, 1x Fall).
- Lack of Personnel: Never ranked as the top concern.
- Inadequate Technology: Never ranked as the top concern.
* Top concern tie between Budgetary Constraints and Increasing Volumes of Data in the Winter of 2017.
(Charts Can Be Expanded for Detailed Viewing)
Chart 1: An Aggregate Overview of Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance1 – Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance
Chart 2: An Overview of Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance in Summer 20192 – Issues Impacting eDiscovery Business Performance
Chart 3: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Budgetary Constraints as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business3 – Impact of Budgetary Constraints on eDiscovery Business
Chart 4: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Increasing Types of Data as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business4 – Impact of Increasing Types of Data on eDiscovery Business
Chart 5: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Increasing Volumes of Data as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business5 – Impact of Increasing Volumes of Data on eDiscovery Business
Chart 6: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Lack of Personnel as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business6 – Impact of Lack of Personnel on eDiscovery Business
Chart 7: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Data Security as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business7 – Impact of Data Security on eDiscovery Business
Chart 8: An Overview of the Percentage of Respondents Viewing Inadequate Technology as the Top Issue Impacting eDiscovery Business8 – Impact of Inadequate Technology on eDiscovery Business
Running Listing of Survey Results
- Fall 2019 Survey (29 September – 17 October 2019)
- Summer 2019 Survey ( 1 July – 17 July 2019)
- Spring 2019 Survey (1 April – 18 April 2019)
- Winter 2019 Survey (27 December 18 – 10 January 2019)
- Fall 2018 Survey (14 October – 26 October 2018)
- Summer 2018 Survey (4 July – 24 July 2018)
- Spring 2018 Survey (7 April – 20 April 2018)
- Winter 2018 Survey (24 December 17 – 15 January 2018)
- Fall 2017 Survey (5 October – 17 October 2017)
- Summer 2017 Survey (6 July – 31 July 2017)
- Spring 2017 Survey (14 April – 1 May 2017)
- Winter 2017 Survey (20 January – 6 February 2017)
- Fall 2016 Survey (11 October – 1 December 2016)
- Summer 2016 Survey (1 August – 31 August 2016)
- Spring 2016 Survey (1 May – 31 May 2016)
- Winter 2016 Survey (15 February – 29 February 2016)
Chart 9: Survey Participant Overview13 – Survey Respondents (Individual and Aggregate Overview)