Study: Most Unprepared for eDiscovery Requests

A Symantec survey shows most organizations have data retention policies that have yet to be fully implemented or tested, and are ill-prepared for an eDiscovery request. This means growing channel opportunities to ramp up related consulting and solutions aimed at keeping customers in the clear.

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Most organizations are pragmatic at implementing basic, no-frills security strategies -- but specialized solutions such as eDiscovery and archiving? Not so much.

A recent Symantec Corp. survey indicates, while most organizations have good intentions, the vast majority have data retention policies that have yet to be fully implemented and are ill-prepared for the legal/financial ramifications in the event of an eDiscovery request. This sets the stage for the channel to fill in the gaps.

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The Symantec 2012 Information Retention and eDiscovery Survey examinesd how enterprises manage the exponential rise of electronically stored information (ESI) in preparation for an eDiscovery request.

In light of growing awareness around Big Data, there were improvements from last year. Among the findings: The percentage of organizations without a formal retention plan dropped by half from 2011. Organizations are still struggling to implement information retention plans, indicated by the fact that only a third of respondents report their plan is operational. This shows a growing channel opportunity to ramp up consulting aimed at pain points, helping customers implement comprehensive eDiscovery strategies and finding the most significant vulnerabilities.

Nearly two thirds (60 percent) of organizations say they have a formal retention plan, likely spurred by compliance regulations and Big Data concerns. The survey reveals only 7 percent of organizations don’t have any plan in place, representing a 50 percent drop from 14 percent of organizations in that same category in 2011.

Only a third (34 percent) of respondents say their plans are operational, indicating the remaining 56 percent have yet to add solutions or policies or test their eDiscovery strategies. The biggest inhibitor to adoption: Cost.

According to the numbers, while organizations received on average 17 requests for ESI, attempts to retrieve that information failed 31 percent of the time -- a 20 percent rise in failures.

The lag is likely driven by a gap between beliefs and practices when it comes to retention policies. 81 percent of respondents believe an adequate information retention plan allows them to delete information on a continual basis. However, 42 percent of backups are indefinitely retained by organizations, and many employees delete information without regard to established data retention policies.

Data privacy laws and compliance regulations have a significant impact on organizations, reaffirmed by 53 percent of respondents who claim such laws have a marked effect on archiving and eDiscovery initiatives. These drivers are litigation (60 percent), internal investigations (59 percent), internal compliance initiatives (58 percent), compliance with international regulations and laws (57 percent), compliance with local and domestic laws (55 percent), governmental inquiries (52 percent) and public information requests (46 percent).

And it's not about to get easier. In recent years, many of these laws have gained teeth in response to highly publicized data breaches and legal violations. The net-net: Organizations are going to be on the hook to produce obscure data as these regulations become more stringent and enforceable.

That's where solution providers enter the picture. And for the channel, this spells opportunity, albeit in a niche that hasn’t achieved, or warranted, public attention. But, thanks to a steady rise in civil litigation, the eDiscovery market is primed for growth. A March 2012 TechNavio report shows the global eDiscovery Market is projected to grow at a fairly robust 14.3 CAGR between 2010 and 2014.

That means the channel in 2013 will have a much clearer path to bulk up value to their portfolio by building out specialized services around eDiscovery, pre-auditing, reporting, archiving and other ihigh-margin niches to help their largest customers keep auditors and attorneys from getting too close.

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