When I first got involved in eDiscovery / eDisclosure in the late 1980s, the components of the problem were relatively straightforward: lawyers needed to find evidence; they were required to comply with some civil procedure rules; they needed to make a profit from a largely mechanical task seen by clients as being of low value; new technology began to appear which purported to help lawyers perform their obligations.
These were interesting times because there was no inherited knowledge to draw on, nor was there anyone with skills, let alone qualifications, for managing the transition from paper-based discovery to electronic discovery. People stepped up to manage new problems, moved sideways from other skills, and developed new ways of working. Part of this was narrowly technical – the ability to use a new type of software, for example; part of it involved developing processes and best practices; part of it involved taking skills like project management from unrelated industries and disciplines and repurposing them.
It is arguable that technology has just about kept pace with the problems of growing volumes and greater demands. Jason Baron of Drinker Biddle, doyen of information governance experts, has been heard to say that in the race between growing volumes and improving analytical technology, technology is losing; others think differently. What is a much greater problem is that we are desperately short of people who can straddle the ever-wider range of components of the task.
The root of the problem lies with the clients. They grasped the technology which enabled ever-faster creation of ever-wider ranges of data types, and many of them grew the skills needed to manage each part of the problem – IT, security, records management and the rest all developed relevant skills to cope with each succeeding wave of expansion and modernisation. What is lacking, in most organisations, is any overall control which brings together the costs and risks and hidden value which lies in all this data.
The umbrella title for this grouping of skills and knowledge is “information governance”, defined by the Information Governance Initiative as being:
the activities and technologies that organizations employ to maximize the value of their information while minimizing associated risks and costs
Defining it is a start. Who is going to take charge of it, and what skills do they need?
This is the subject of an interesting paper jointly produced by the discovery recruitment expert APT Search and information governance consulting company Big Red Consulting Group. The paper is called Information Governance: the skills and knowledge that organisations need which looks at the need to develop in-house capabilities in eDiscovery, security and compliance.
Amit Pandit, managing director at APT search, explains it this way:
“Information governance is a broad discipline that touches on most aspects of the business. It has become a real challenge to find and hire the right people to lead it – 20 percent of CIOs in regulated industries are forecast to lose their jobs in the next few years through failures in information governance2. In the past, companies were quite prescriptive. That view has more recently broadened. Organisations are now starting to find the most appropriate people with a wider skillset such as IT and e-discovery, and from project management or compliance backgrounds.”
This paper is worth reading not only by the organisations whose problem it describes, but by those who purport to advise them. You can download a copy here.