Relativity and X1 have announced a new integrated solution which combines the strengths of RelativityOne Collect and X1’s Enterprise Platform. The aim is to remove the barriers to seamless preservation and collection of data, both as a technology matter and for training purposes. The press release is here.
I remember years ago hearing of a data collection exercise across multiple locations in a remote part of Canada in winter. The collections expert had to travel between locations through the snow, attach to each local device, download data and head off to the next location. That process was eased, a little, by the development of devices which could be sent by courier and which were pre-loaded with instructions for the users to download their own data. That was a considerable improvement, but it was nevertheless a clunky, time-consuming, and expensive process – and only the start, because the data then had to be sent back to base and uploaded to a server before the onerous task of processing it all could begin.
In those days, data sat in silos, first at the client’s premises and, once collected, on the servers of the litigation support provider or law firm. By the beginning of 2020, that model was changing, with corporations increasingly keeping their data in the cloud, and litigation support providers, particularly those with RelativityOne, doing the same.
At the point when lockdown began, those who had adopted this model were, relatively speaking, in a good position, able to make data available for review extremely quickly. When I interviewed Craig Carpenter, CEO of X1, back in October, he emphasised the significance of this – quite apart from restrictions on travel, no one wanted to see a data collector on the doorstep, particularly if they were working from home as many were.
I spoke to Craig Carpenter again this week, in the context of the Relativity / X1 announcement. Covid, for all its many drawbacks, has been a great enabler and accelerator of change, he said . Every corporation and every litigation support provider, and not just the larger or more sophisticated ones, needed to be quickly at the point where data could be made available for preservation and collection near-instantly.
Historic resistance had had to give way to the pragmatic need to involve data collection technology and expertise at an earlier and more integrated stage in the management of corporate data. The winners, Craig Carpenter said, would be those who were set up to enable this close relationship, bringing data from its home to review in the minimum possible time and with the fewest number of steps
Chris Brown, Chief Product Officer at Relativity, put it this way: “The integration of RelativityOne Collect with X1 Enterprise’s remote collection capabilities further expands our offerings to provide an end-to-end platform that enables users to easily search across and access distributed unstructured data within minutes.”
The press release about the new integrated solution sets out its key benefits, including the ability to collect data quickly across multiple custodians, and to import the data into RelativityOne within minutes to make it available for indexing, searching, analysing and categorisation. X1 brings the ability to reach into all types of data store for these purposes.
It is a particular ambition of the integration to make preservation and collection straightforward. Chris Brown said “RelativityOne Collect was developed with the user experience in mind. We focused on building an intuitive solution so data collection from any source can be done with minimal training”. Efficiency is great, but the job must still be done properly, without either disturbing the custodians or placing undue demands on them.
The integration, or at least its acceleration, has happened in response to the pandemic. By the time Covid is behind us, working in the way described in the press release will be the norm. We were heading that way anyway but the pace has picked up – what I described above as “historic resistance” to change has dissolved in the face of the pragmatic reality that there is no other way to get the job done at all, never mind at an acceptable cost.
Will we lose something as a result? Our main discussion over, Craig Carpenter and I mused on likely changes beyond efficiency and cost. Will we get back to face-to-face connections with others – the people we work with or seek to do business with? With some of them, such as the data collector calling at the office or home, that will not happen any more. Our assumption, however, is that people will want to get to know others in a way which Zoom barely allows. What of the next generation? I have known Craig Carpenter for a decade or so, and it is not difficult to switch to a different way to keeping in touch. Those now starting in this business – or any business – will not have that historic social credit. That may prove to be a longer-lasting effect than any technology developments.
One effect of technology developments like this is that the release from mundane and repetitive tasks – and RelativityOne Collect will effect that change – will free up time and resources for more constructive things. What really matters in this data? What should our litigation strategy be and how will we achieve it? In the longer term, what business model most effectively gets the job done at a price acceptable to the client while being profitable to us?
Looked at like this, the integration between RelativityOne and X1 is more than just a technology leap but is also a step towards improving the whole business of discovery.