eDiscovery Daily Blog

Has eDiscovery Business Confidence Hit the Summertime Blues?: eDiscovery Trends

As the late, great Eddie Cochran would say (and sing), “there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues”.  The Complex Discovery eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey is into its third year and the results are in for the Summer 2018 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey!  As was the case for the 2016 Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall surveys, the 2017 Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall surveys and the 2018 Winter and Spring surveys, the results for the Summer survey are published on Rob Robinson’s terrific Complex Discovery site.  How confident are individuals working in the eDiscovery ecosystem in the business of eDiscovery?  Let’s see.

As always, Rob provides a complete breakdown of the latest survey results, which you can check out here.  He also provides his own analysis of the results here.  As I’ve done for the past few surveys, I will provide some analysis and, this year, I’ll take a look at all surveys conducted to look at trends over time.  So, this time, I will look at the results for all eleven surveys to date.

The Summer 2018 Survey response period was initiated on July 4 and continued until registration of 66 responses by last week.  Rob notes that this limiting of responders to 66 individuals is a change from previous surveys and reflective of an adjusted survey participant listing based on GDPR implementation by Complex Discovery and sensitivity to the increasing number of industry surveys.  Good to know!

Providers Back to the Top of the Heap: Software and/or Services Provider respondents were back on top this time, accounting for nearly 40% (39.4% to be exact) of all respondents.  Law Firm respondents were next at 28.8% and Consultancy respondents slid back to third at 22.7%.  As always, if you count law firms as providers (they’re technically both providers and consumers), this is a very provider heavy survey with over 90% of total respondents (which makes perfect sense as they would be most interested in eDiscovery business confidence).  Here’s a graphical representation of the trend over the eleven surveys to date:

This is another provider heavy survey yet at 91% of total respondents (yet, not a record).  So, how confident are providers in eDiscovery business confidence?  See below.

Just Over Half of Respondents Consider Business to Be Good: This time, only 53% of respondents considered business to be good, a big drop from the record 68% we had last quarter.  7.6% of respondents rated business conditions as bad, only slightly higher than last quarter’s 7.0%.  That may seem like a big slide, but it’s in line with the numbers of the past two summers (slightly worse than the 53.4%/5.0% of last summer, but considerably better than the 47.6%/13.7% of two summers ago).  Summer doldrums, anyone?  Anyway, here is the trend over the eleven surveys to date:

So, how good do respondents expect business to be in six months?  See below.

Revenue and Profit Expectations Are Still in Line: Nearly all respondents (95.5%) expect business conditions will be in their segment to be the same or better six months from now (a little bit higher than last quarter’s 94%), and the percentage expecting business to be better stayed flat at 50%.  Revenue (at combined 92.4% for the same or better) is over three points lower than the last quarter.  Profit expectations (combined 87.9%) rose nearly two points from last quarter, but with those expecting higher profits dropping 7.5 points from last quarter’s record high.  However, the percentage of those expecting higher profits is still significantly higher than either of the last two summers.     Here is the profits trend over the eleven surveys to date:

If you look at averages for the first three quarters this year, the profit sentiment overall is stronger than the past two years, so the trend is still positive overall.

Budgetary Constraints Are Still Considered to Be Most Impactful to eDiscovery Business: Budgetary Constraints was (once again) the top impactful factor to the business of eDiscovery over the next six months at 22.7%, but with Increasing Types (not Volumes) of Data next up at 21.2%.  Data Security was close behind again in third at 19.7%, with Increasing Volumes of Data (16.7%) at fourth, its lowest ranking ever.  Lack of Personnel was fifth at 13.6%, with Inadequate Technology bringing up the rear at 6.1%.  The graph below illustrates the distribution over the eleven surveys to date:

Once again, Budgetary Constraints is at or near the top, but it’s Increasing Types of Data that is a strong second this time.  I guess it’s all of those CLEs we’ve been doing (including this one, pats self on back)… :o)

Back to a Heavier Exec Influence: The Executive Leadership respondents were back up to near half (45.4%). Operational Management and Tactical Execution respondents were exactly even (27.3%).  So, this survey reflects a little more exec influence.  Here’s the breakdown over the eleven surveys to date:

Clearly, the variance in distribution shows that the respondents for this survey vary from quarter to quarter, so it’s not the same people giving the same answers each time.

Again, Rob has published the results on his site here, which shows responses to additional questions not referenced here.  Check them out.

So, what do you think?  What’s your state of confidence in the business of eDiscovery?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Sponsor: This blog is sponsored by CloudNine, which is a data and legal discovery technology company with proven expertise in simplifying and automating the discovery of data for audits, investigations, and litigation. Used by legal and business customers worldwide including more than 50 of the top 250 Am Law firms and many of the world’s leading corporations, CloudNine’s eDiscovery automation software and services help customers gain insight and intelligence on electronic data.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.