After writing about two RelativityOne initiatives in Asia, one in Singapore and one in Korea, I thought it would be good to speak to Relativity’s APAC managing director, Georgia Foster, for a more general view of developments in the broader APAC market.
Georgia Foster’s first point, which is worth remembering, is that the Asia Pacific region includes many very distinct countries and regions. There is some commonality between them, and they have all been subject to changes in their economies and in the politics within and between them.
Many developments reflect what has been happening elsewhere – increasing regulatory intervention, growing concern about cyber security, and the consequences of pandemic and lockdown. Each of these has promoted the benefits of moving data to the cloud and working on it there, whether for day-to-day business or for the purposes of litigation discovery and regulatory activity.
The Australia market is expanding, and businesses and their lawyers have been forced into new ways of working. Australians are used to working remotely and collaborating across borders. There has been a Royal Commission into Aged Care which began before the pandemic, and other investigations derived from increased regulatory control as well as from the pandemic.
Lawyers are showing new interest in technology generally and the cloud in particular, partly because new tools enable new ways of working and partly because that is what their clients expect. The CEO of Commonwealth Bank recently announced a commitment to public cloud computing, moving its apps and services from 25% to 95% cloud based. The expressed motives include lower running costs and improved and more reliable experiences for customers.
Commonwealth Bank will not be alone in this, and lawyers must follow or be left out. They are collectors of information, whether as part of daily client service, as part of due diligence, and for discovery and regulatory purposes. It is, almost by definition, the business-critical data, and must be looked after properly.
Security is a major driver. Lockdown has given opportunities for people with malicious intent to take things a step further. Not being in the office simultaneously takes people out of daily supervision and encourages greater reliance on a wider range of devices and communications platforms, for good purposes and bad. Enhanced duties of oversight and supervision coincide with increased opportunities for bad actors, while increasing the daily volumes of transaction data.
More widely across Asia, there has long been personal activity in the cloud. That has now extended to business, for convenience, for cost reasons, and in compliance with the demands of regulators, something touched on in my articles on the growth of RelativityOne in Singapore and Korea.
Georgia Foster sees a greater appetite and propensity for change in APAC than in other regions – it has seen the fastest growth for RelativityOne than anywhere else. 80% of APAC organisations suffered cyber attacks last year, which is one reason why security has been a major driver to cloud adoption. 36 % of data centres that host RelativityOne are now in Asia. It is not just regulated companies who are moving to the cloud – regulators themselves are doing so, notably in New Zealand.
There has been a corresponding growth in the APAC Relativity community, which has been the most engaged and fastest growing in the world. There has been a 46% growth in active Relativity community members in the last year. Relativity sees its main role as helping its partners to grow their businesses and making sure they get information out to those who might be users. The potential is enormous, and (as elsewhere in the world) there is potential to reach industries and purposes beyond Relativity’s core discovery function.
Georgia Foster also told me about Spotlight:APAC, Relativity’s big regional event on 28 April. Last year’s Spotlight: Australia event coincided with the onset of pandemic travel restrictions, and Relativity turned it into a virtual event at almost no notice. It was a success notwithstanding the sudden switch, building virtually on a meeting at Relativity Fest a few months earlier at which Australian customers and solution providers explained what they needed to make Relativity a success in Australia. Relativity delivered what they wanted.
The sessions likely to arouse most interest are one on emerging trends and developments in Asia from KPMG, a security session presented jointly with Microsoft, and one on Relativity’s commitment to social justice with a particular focus on oppression and injustice in Australia, and on the role which RelativityOne can play in standing up for what is right.
Georgia Foster joined Relativity while the world was closed down, at least in the old terms. Relativity has made the best of a shift to a virtual business world, with a product which fits the new demands, and a wider audience, not least as a result of its adroit pivot to last year’s virtual event and to building a community of users and partners who can make contact and stay in touch without travel. Georgia Foster gives the impression that she thrives on new challenges like this. It was good to talk to her, and I will stay in touch as 2021 brings new expansion and new challenges.