Equivio illustrates the maxim “less is more” in ways which go beyond the purpose of its software, which is “the management of data redundancy in content-centric business processes” . There is something appropriate in the way that a company whose business is identifying the fewest possible documents manages to describe itself in the fewest possible words.
Equivio’s technology, in its own words, zooms in on unique data…With products for grouping near-duplicates, capturing email threads and determining document relevance, Equivio powers a broad range of business applications, including e-discovery, data retention, records management, email archiving and intelligence.
Equivio is generally found built into something else, and this unshowy role is matched by marketing which is low-key and much the better for it. Its web site and other promotional materials state in simple terms what the products do without screaming at you. Because other providers build Equivio’s products into their own applications and processes, they have an interest in spreading the word, and even Equivio’s rivals are publicly respectful of it. I use its illustrations in some of my slides, and it has turned up in my articles in side-references (my recent Australian round-up, for example) but other things have been going on there whilst I have been engaged in my recent tour of the world’s airport lounges.
Top of the list is the launch of Equivio>Relevance 3.0 in May. As with all Equivio products, the name follows the function – Equivio>Relevance helps lawyers sort the relevant from the irrelevant and gives documents a relevance ranking based on the lawyers’ own input. Paragraph 27 of Master Whitaker’s judgment in Goodale v Ministry of Justice is as good a description as one could want of how technology of this kind can help, with its reference to “software that will effectively score each document as to its likely relevance and which will enable a prioritisation of categories within the entire document set”. Amongst other things, Version 3.0 adds issue management, so that the lawyers can sweep up issue tagging as well as relevance on a single pass. The key concept here lies in the words “helps lawyers” – however sophisticated the technology, its purpose is maximising lawyer input, not supplanting it.
In addition, Equivio has integrated its technology for detection and grouping of near-duplicate documents and email threads with Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and that technology has also been embedded in Relativity by Fios . Closer to home, Hobs Legal Docs has incorporated Equivio’s near-dup and email thread technology into its processes, joining Trilantic and Millnet in offering this capability in the UK (you might like to run your eye down the Installed Base list to see how pervasive this technology now is worldwide).
Two other articles caught my eye as I was catching up with Equivio’s news. One is by Andrew King, litigation support manager at Bell Gully in New Zealand. One of the reasons why I need to catch up at all (in place of the notional ideal that I field news as it arises) is that I have been out and about a bit over the last couple of months. Andrew King was one of the people I met in Sydney and I have been corresponding with him since about e-discovery developments in New Zealand. His article Achieving a more efficient ediscovery process serves as a good guide to the problems and to the solutions, including Equivio. You will speedily deduce from Andrew’s references to the need for a New Zealand practice note that we have procedural reform, as well as an interest in technology, in common.
The other article which interested me was by Amir Milo, CEO of Equivio. Called Shattering a few myths about the US Government, it draws attention to the fact that government departments have urgent needs just like any other organisation and that even they can jump over long procurement processes if your product matches their urgent requirements. Recent high-profile cases in the UK suggest that there are one or two UK government bodies which would benefit from prompt acquisition of some technology to help them meet their e-disclosure obligations; Ofsted, the Ministry of Defence, the Office of Fair Trading and the Treasury Solicitor have between them wasted a fortune in recent months, not least in costs orders made against them for their disclosure failures. Even if, which is unlikely, the technology cost would have matched the costs thrown away, the saving in reputational terms would have warranted speedy buying decisions of the kind which Amir describes. The dead hand of EU procurement directives would get in the way, no doubt.
Coming back to my opening point about the wordy press releases which are endemic in this industry, a Twitter discussion last week brought to mind a hitherto unused purpose for Equivio>Relevance. If you treated all these PRs as if they were a discovery exercise, it would be possible to define by example the characteristics which decide which is worth reading. If I had my own copy of Equivio>Relevance, I could teach it to understand what was interesting and what was not and, using the new issue management feature, I could categorise them by subject at the same time. Think how much time that would save me in a week.