I am delighted to welcome Equivio as a new sponsor of the e-Disclosure Information Project. As I wrote in November (see New integration and new web site for Equivio) I met CEO Amir Milo at the Masters Conference in Washington. Equivio’s name was already a familiar one, but that meeting and a subsequent read-through of Equivio’s web site emphasised why Equivio is subliminally omnipresent in the data management world.
If, as I do, you spend your time explaining to lawyers, judges and corporates why technology must be used to reduce vast volumes of data and documents to manageable proportions, you learn three basic propositions – rely on illuminating snapshots not lengthy explanations, focus on the things which equate directly to the user’s own functions, and emphasise the benefits of using technology and not just the risks of not doing so. Equivio’s web site does just that, crisply and clearly.
Equivio makes software applications which are designed to be integrated into the products and service offerings of others – companies and law firms outsource data-handling to a service provider, embed Equivio’s components within an in-house third-party e-discovery product or install them into their own custom-built solution. Other software companies provide the Equivio tools as a seamless part of their user functions, integrated invisibly so far as the user is concerned.
I come across it in the latter form. Of my Project’s sponsors in the e-discovery market, Epiq Systems’ DocuMatrix, Anacomp’s CaseLogistix and Autonomy Zantaz all provide Equivio functionality; KCura’s Relativity is another well-known litigation review application which includes it. When I last wrote about Equivio, Epiq had just announced a further round of Equivio integration into DocuMatrix which I did not get to see properly until last week.
Consistent with my idea that illustrative snapshots are worth several thousand words, I was shown some specific things. One of them was the categorisation function which is provided by the integration of Autonomy’s IDOL engine. The others came from Equivio – the finding of near-duplicates, the handling of e-mail threads and the Compare function.
I do not really need to describe these things, partly because (unusually for a software company) Equivio describes them very well for itself (follow the links above) and partly because their usefulness is reasonably obvious from their names. As to e-discovery / e-disclosure, if you take as your yardstick the task facing a team of lawyers reading documents by eye, it seems fairly obvious that significant amounts of time can be saved if attention is drawn to near-duplicates, if you can group e-mails by their threads (and treat them all en bloc if you choose to), and if your eye is drawn to the differences between two apparently similar documents (successive drafts, for example) without your having to read every line. The latter function earns its keep in particular when comparing documents scanned from paper when even identical documents which have been scanned and OCR’d twice are likely to have minute differences between them. How long does it take to spot the differences by eye? At what charging rate?
The latter two questions are vital because they introduce a measurable saving – a return on the investment in the technology which is susceptible to calculation. Comparing even a one page document with multiple versions of what appears to be its twins (or triplets or however many copies you have) is a major consumer of time, time which comes with a charging rate. It is very much quicker to run your eye over the differences if they have been highlighted for you.
In an e-Discovery exercise, you take the document populations as you find them – if they are large, unstructured and unfiltered, it will take longer (and therefore cost more) than if they have been provided in good order. I often make the point that corporations who deliver large amounts of documentary garbage to their lawyers cannot complain about their bills (still less about the requirements of court or regulator) when the garbage has to be filleted in a hurry at lawyers’ hourly rates. The second main heading on Equivio’s web site is Data Retention and is aimed at corporates who see the need to do some of the culling, grouping and rationalisation of their document populations in anticipation of litigation or regulatory requirements – or indeed, because they want to keep their house in order as a matter of good business practice.
The third heading is simply Intelligence and makes the point (which is common to both e-discovery and data retention) that information is valueless if you cannot make sense of it.
Equivio is therefore welcome as a sponsor of the e-Disclosure Information Project not just because its product set fits the market which the Project seeks to illuminate, but because its applications provide easily-understood illustrations which relate directly to the work which lawyers, and others who must handle data efficiently, accurately and transparently, have to do to make sense of the data.
Equivio will be at Booth #3100 at LegalTech 2009 in New York next week.