Christopher Hatfield is an expert in digital forensics, cyber and eDiscovery at FTI Consulting in London. I spoke to him recently about changing trends in forensic data collections.
Chris Hatfield said that Google and Microsoft now have discovery interfaces and clients have skilled staff who are able to operate these, and therefore make more use of these internal resources.
It is not always appropriate for an organisation to collect its own data. Technology has capabilities, but some due diligence may be required, and some more information about custodians, before simply turning to technology to solve problems.
At a simple level, this may involve employees who have changed their name, perhaps on marriage, those who have left the organisation and come back, or those whose responsibilities and titles have changed. Sometimes, systems will not produce the right data every time, perhaps because there are discrete versions which store multiple iterations of documents, or which encourage the use of documents shared with others. It can be expensive, or at least embarrassing, if omissions appear later in the process.
Views have changed over the years as to the wisdom of self-collection. It was once a straight choice – does an organisation simply get on with it or do they need a full collection service? FTI is now working with organisations who appreciate professional advice about certain matters but otherwise rely on internal resources. New devices – smartphones and tablets, for example – brought to an end the first phase of straightforward self-collection, making it more necessary to seek external advice.
It is obviously easier to help an organisation if you have worked with them before – you know the system and the capabilities of the people, and FTI’s advice often involves helping them to mature their internal processes and making them better able to preserve a broader range of data.
Chris Hatfield says that the trend towards cloud systems will continue, and clients will increasingly need advice on how to go about collecting data from them. Early adopters were generally small or mid-sized organisations needing help with disputes; this allowed FTI to develop procedures which stood them in good stead when larger enterprises met the same needs.
We are now seeing another rise in the self-collection of data as organisations wish to reduce costs and take advantage of new technology which has made it easier to collect data.
Chris Hatfield is relocating from the FTI offices in London to FTI in Sydney, where he will continue to apply his expertise in technology consulting the growing FTI presence in Australia.