Not surprisingly, the biggest topic of conversation at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) 2011 convention in Nashville is last week’s announcement by Hewlett-Packard (HP) that it was acquiring Autonomy for $11.8bn. The most common reaction–in addition to the rush out the door to buy HP’s now discontinued TouchPad for 99 bucks–was surprise at the healthy purchase price. Although some ILTA attendees saw how the deal might make sense logistically, virtually no one thought the deal made any sense at all with such a high price tag for Autonomy.
Cloud computing–and law firms’ reluctant move toward it–is another big topic, but another trend that seems to be developing as the e-discovery industry matures is its move away from law firms. Many vendors are reporting that five years ago, their businesses were 70 percent or more in law firms, with the remaining 30 percent or less of the business with corporate clients. Vendors now report that those ratios have flipped, with corporate clients now making up the vast majority of business.
Although the e-discovery market may be shifting away from law firms, at least one vendor hasn’t forgotten them. Exterro has announced at ILTA the launch of Fusion LawFirm. As the name implies, the new application is a version of Exterro’s Fusion platform designed especially for law firms.
Other vendors meeting with The 451 Group at ILTA to brief us on their product launches and other announcements are:
- AccessData, which is launching its new early case assessment application, AD ECA
- kCura and Nexidia, who announced their alliance where Nexidia’s audio and voice recognition application will be integrated into kCura’s Relativity platform
- LexisNexis Applied Discovery, which made an ILTA announcement of its new partnership with Equivio to add predictive coding to its platform
- LexisNexis LAW PreDiscovery with the launch of its new early case assessment (ECA) application, Early Data Analyzer
- Nuix, which announced a new version of its platform last month
- Orange Legal Technologies, which did an ILTA launch of PurpleBox, its new collection and ECA tool
- Recommind, which discussed its predictive coding patent, and may have hosted ILTA’s best party at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame
- Wave Software, which announced a new version of its Trident e-mail processing application.
ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) 2010 kicked off with attendance around 1100, up almost 40% from last year according to some attendee estimates, in spite of an emergency venue change following May flash flooding in Nashville.
Even in the August desert heat of the new Las Vegas location there was an encouraging “after the flood” spirit of survival and rebuilding – a look at the 7th annual ILTA member technology purchasing survey indicates greater financial stability in the sector following last year’s weaker recessionary economy, law firm layoffs and hiring freezes, and stagnant corporate legal budgets: 45% stated their firms are “back to normal financially” (vs. 45% in 2009 reporting that it would take another 12 months – evidently they were right). Likewise, ILTA’s survey showed that IT spending is slowly recovering from 2009, and 33% report an increase in IT budget, albeit most spending has been in core hardware, infrastructure, computers, and SAN’s – see the InsideLegal write-up for more details.
Many in the e-discovery market claimed strong growth in h1 2010 after a lean 2009 as well, although recent M&A shows the market is still maturing both in technology and go-to-market. Most vendors and providers continue to build out their lines to be more comprehensive in functionality and interoperability – Clearwell released v. 6.0 of its appliance with enhanced search and more review load file export, Guidance Software made its latest EnCase eDiscovery platform release this week with stronger search and data analytics, IPRO announced Allegro ECA to integrate with eCapture, Nuix announced an “eDiscovery Supercomputer,” and AccessData Group is busily integrating its own forensic platform with its newly-merged CT Summation assets, as is Unify with its new Daegis DocHunter SaaS review platform and existing archive.
But “end-to-end” claims have subdued somewhat, either from some hard-earned humility or better recognition of a highly variegated customer base with individual pain points. The messaging tone was commensurately more mature and less reliant on scare tactics of threatening sanctions and crushing reactive discovery costs, instead emphasizing more actual product differentiation, addressing customer pain points, more aggressive pricing, and preparation and risk management.
The theme for 2010 was “Strategic unity” – one that I think emphasized this theme of survival in the industry and more receptiveness (even enthusiasm?) for joint technical and business evolution– I expound on this further for subscribers in our full write-up of the conference and software/service provider releases here.
A few other themes stood out:
- Cloud technology evangelists got a sizeable platform (sorry) through a user panel and a number of vendor sessions, including Microsoft Azure, Autonomy, and Smarsh for social media compliance archiving – a matter of particular interest as we ready upcoming reports on cloud archiving and e-discovery. Please get in touch with your own story or for more information on the research.
- Review tools (often in SaaS or hosted versions ) got more search and analytics, bigger-scale seat support, and more customizable project set-up for large, distributed cases, with new releases from AccessData (CT Summation CaseVantage 6.0, the first since the merger), Applied Discovery’s new Leverage tool, Catalyst Repositories’ CR 9.0, Clearwell’s afore-mentioned enhanced review module, recent updates from CaseCentral, and iCONECT’s integration with PureDiscovery for semantic search.
- Major vendor releases emphasized not just cutting costs or ROI, but even competitive advantage through gains in business opportunities and productivity – a word that has sometimes been a double-edged sword for sales to the legal sector (no surprise given its emphasis on human expertise). Thomson Reuters’ West appeared on the back of its CaseLogistix acquisition for the West Litigator line (including LiveNote) for attorney case analysis, and demoed Engage for law firm resource management planning, while LexisNexis made its second integration with Microsoft for the year with Interaction CRM for Outlook, a CRM tool for tracking contacts and client interactions.
- In review tool automation, Recommind had a major rebrand and marketing push behind its Axcelerate predictive coding technology (now integrated in v.8 of its CORE categorization engine for “predictive analytics” across its product line), while Equivio boasted more direct sales for its Relevance review prioritization technology, and Kroll Ontrack announced “Intelligent Prioritization” in its Inview hosted tool. Autonomy, however, seemed to have backed off its July “meaning-based coding” announcement for IDOL, opting for a risk management platform for attorneys as its release for the event.
- Defensibility had more practical applications with strong turnout among legal hold notification– kCura’s new Method Legal Hold, Exterro’s Fusion Cloud Legal Hold and Zapproved were all on hand – and from forensics vendors and service providers emphasizing collection that will hold up in court, including growing service provider D4, and Integreon’s new Seek and Collect tool used in tandem with services.
- In data management and analytics, Digital Reef announced an open software benchmark for clocking performance along phases of the EDRM, StoredIQ recently released v. 6.0 of its e-discovery and information governance appliance on a 64 bit architecture, and announced integration with Microsoft Data Classification technology for ILTA, while EMC-Kazeon turned up in partnerships for collection and ECA with Applied Discovery and Merrill Corp, as well as recent EMC-Source One releases, of course.
Finally having just returned from VMWorld (hence the delay) I’m struck by the intersection of information management / e-discovery with storage, security and GRC, as all of us grapple with (and continue proliferating) Big Data, both in scalability and manageability. NetApp was on hand at ILTA and came up by name with e-discovery vendors, as did BlueArc, while at VMWorld, EMC announced plans for a FISMA-compliant VMWare and RSA alliance to trace exact “geolocation” of virtual machines and prevent violating international data privacy regulations, potentially alleviating a major concern of companies transferring data for e-discovery in the cloud.