AI and Data Management lead the story at Relativity Fest

Years ago, every player in the eDiscovery market would try and launch something new at big events, drowning out the announcements of rivals with new product releases just as we were all unpacking and getting over our jetlag. Those of us who were expected to comment on it all would shelter in the bars asking each other if we’d seen anything new, before emerging to a fresh blizzard of press releases and to eager hands plucking at our sleeves to come see their demo.

It is rather better now, at least when the bigger players hold their own events. They can afford to see their clients as long-term companions on the road rather than as casual punters to be mugged for a quick sale. Big events are an opportunity for companies to give a round-up of the year’s developments and successes, and a preview of what is to come.

This week’s big event is Relativity Fest, taking place, as it always did, in Chicago. The venue has changed to reflect the increasing numbers of people wanting to attend, despite the fact that much of the content is available online. I wrote about it here, with my pick of the sessions which seemed most interesting. The crowds have gathered, and we now have CEO Mike Gamson’s review of recent progress, current ambitions, and future plans.

There is a press release here, but I thought it worth picking out the main topics. Its opening paragraph summarises the main themes, both of the recent past and of the near future:

leveraging AI to transform the review experience, empowering users to solve new challenges with AI, simplify data management, and accelerate document review and translation.

Transform, empower, simplify and accelerate all convey attractive ideas to people engaged in a task which is inherently dull and expensive – yes, I know about the thrill of the chase and the Ahah! moment when you discover a vein of documents which will change the case, but there is a great deal of mind-numbing work to do first if you use conventional tools and methods. Anything which promises to transform, simplify and accelerate the process must be good, and if the user feels empowered, rather than merely a piece of the machinery, then so much the better.

Words are easy, of course – all those competing press releases mentioned in my opening paragraph were full of these and similar terms, using a finite vocabulary to describe different ways of reaching the same end. What does Relativity mean by them? What is it doing to address the everyday problems which people must solve?

Mike Gamson began with some acquisitions which have filled identifiable gaps. Buying Heretik (I wrote about that here) addressed contract intelligence and the need to integrate contracts review into mainstream review. Relativity Patents focuses on patent search and workflows. Translate for RelativityOne does what its name implies as part of the review process. Each of these developments is equivalent to removing a roadblock. Sticking with the transport analogy, Relativity now has 16 data centres around the world, like transport hubs bringing solutions closer to the workforce.

There is a continuing focus on the “review experience” which is a concatenation of processing technologies and enhancements to the user experience. The use of artificial intelligence in various ways contributes to a better and faster approach to getting the job done, including sentiment analysis, filterable fields, and other technologies. Relativity Review Center groups hitherto disparate tasks together for better management and overview of projects. What appears from the technology descriptions is the repeated focus on users with expressions like “helping users to grasp the full, people-driven picture” and “allow users to see…[and] to dig into key conversations”. The ambition is less about so-called “smoking gun” documents and more about “painting a picture which helps us prove our case” as one user put it.

Privacy concerns continue to dominate the lives of lawyers and legal departments. They need all the help they can get, not just to head off data breaches but to clean up afterwards. The tools originally designed for the more leisurely (as it now appears) task of gathering data retrospectively for discovery purposes have been repurposed to cope with anticipating privacy and other data-related issues, and to deal with the reporting functions required when a breach has occurred. Mike Gamson talked about Text IQ for Data Breach, which will speed up assessment and reporting, and about Relativity’s Redact, whose purpose is the automated identification and redaction of personal information.

Relativity is also paying attention to communication and surveillance, with enhancements coming to identify and remove material which is irrelevant to the judgments which must be made about data both historic and current because it is duplicative or is pro forma content such as disclaimers.

A related subject is the removal of friction in the process of importing and exporting data. Among other things, Relativity has extended its partnership with iManage aimed at smoothing the path between iManage data stores and RelativityOne.

The need to speed up review is illustrated by the fact that Relativity Processing had processed more data in RelativityOne by September 2022 than in the whole of 2021. 80% of formerly manual tasks can now be automated, with (to take one example) triggers based on matter type to invoke processes relevant to the task of bringing order to ever-growing volumes of unstructured data. This includes translation with Relativity Translate which becomes just another part of the review process rather than an external task – time-consuming and expensive – as it used to be.

There is a coherence to all this which is a long way from the disparate and scattered announcements described in my opening above. The attraction of Relativity Fest (among other things) is that you can sit down and hear an overview in the form set out in the Keynote press release, and then go out and see the tools in action and talk to people who make and use them.

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in Discovery, eDisclosure, eDiscovery, Electronic disclosure, Relativity, Relativity Fest, RelativityOne. Bookmark the permalink.

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