eDiscovery Daily Blog

Is eDiscovery Business Confidence In For a Big FALL?: eDiscovery Trends

That sentence could be taken two ways, of course.  :o)  It’s that time again!  I’m here to cover the results of the Fall 2019 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey, published (as always) on Rob Robinson’s terrific Complex Discovery site.  So, 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 some additional analysis on factors that impact eDiscovery business confidence here.  As I’ve done for the past few surveys, I will provide some analysis and I’m continuing to take a look at all surveys conducted to look at trends over time.  So, this time, I will look at the results for all (sweet) sixteen surveys to date, from January 2016 to present.  This time, I’m also looking at some of the numbers compared to their averages over all sixteen surveys as additional historical comparison.

The Fall 2019 Survey response period was initiated on September 29 and continued until the registration of 150 responses last Thursday.  Another high number of participants, thanks in part to support and promotion from the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS).

Software and/or Services Provider and Law Firms Still One-Two: As usual, Software and/or Services Provider respondents was the top group with 36.0% of all respondents, the highest percentage since last fall and about average for the sixteen surveys (36.7% average over that time).  Law Firm respondents were once again reasonably close behind at 30.7% of all respondents (also close to the lifetime average of 30.4%).  Corporation respondents were once again third at 14.0%, the third survey in a row at this level (and almost double the lifetime average of 7.4%).  Consultancy was once again fourth at 12.0%.  If you count law firms as providers (they’re technically both providers and consumers), providers account for 78.7% of total respondents.  Though, expanding the respondents has still continued diversify the responses somewhat, especially with regard to corporate respondents.  Here’s a graphical representation of the trend over the sixteen surveys to date:

So, how confident is another large group of respondents in eDiscovery business confidence?  See below.

Less Than Half of Respondents Consider Business to Be Good: This quarter, we saw a 2.2 point dip to 48.7% of respondents, which is the lowest ever for a Fall survey.  It’s also below the average of all surveys (54.4%) by 6.7 points.  48.0% of respondents consider business to be normal, so the good and normal numbers are just about the same.  Only 3.3% of respondents rated business conditions as bad, which is the lowest percentage ever and 4 points below the lifetime average of 7.3%.  So, does that mean a lot of “same old, same old” on the business front?  Hmmm…  Here is the trend over the sixteen surveys to date:

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

Most Respondents Expect Business to be the Same Six Months From Now: While most respondents (96.0%) expect business conditions will be in their segment to be the same or better six months from now, the percentage of those expecting business to be better was only 38.7%, while those expecting business to be the same was a whopping 57.3%. Those expecting worse business conditions remained unchanged at 4.0%.   More than half of respondents also expected the same on revenues and profits – 52.7% and 56.7% respectively.  The percentage of respondents expecting higher profits did rise from the last survey 2.1 points at 33.3%, but when looking at previous Fall surveys, this Fall reflects the lowest percentage of respondents expecting higher profits for Fall surveys and is 7.3% lower than the average for the sixteen surveys.  Here is the profits trend over the sixteen surveys to date:

Will the trend toward less higher profits predictions continue in the future?  We’ll see.

Show Me the Money!  Budgetary Constraints Again Considered to Be Most Impactful to eDiscovery Business: Lower profits, higher budgetary constraints – I think I see a correlation here.  Budgetary Constraints was the top factor for the second quarter in a row at 24.0%, which was slightly higher than the lifetime survey average of 23.8%. Increasing Types of Data was once again third at 21.3%, and has been trending upward as that number is 4.8 points over the lifetime average of 16.5%.  Increasing Volumes of Data dropped down to third at 19.3%, which is 4.3 points lower than its lifetime average of 23.6%.  Lack of Personnel at 13.3% and Data Security at 13.3% tied for fourth and Inadequate Technology (once again) brought up the rear at 8.7%.  It still surprises me that more don’t find that to be the most significant factor, but numbers never lie, right? ;o)  The graph below illustrates the distribution over the sixteen surveys to date:

Budgetary Constraints, Increasing Volumes of Data, and Increasing Types of Data continue to consistently be the top three factors quarter after quarter and have been since last Fall, when Lack of Personnel snuck into third.

Distribution of Respondents is Once Again Reasonably Even: Operational Management respondents were once again the top group at 35.3% (3.2 points over the lifetime average of 32.1%) and Tactical Execution respondents were second at 34.7% (6.4 points over the lifetime average of 28.3%) and Executive Leadership respondents were last again at 30.0%, once again almost 3 percent higher than last quarter (yet, still 9.6 points lower than the lifetime average).  Here’s the breakdown over the sixteen surveys to date:

Remember when Executive Leadership respondents were the dominant group?  That doesn’t seem to the case with larger overall respondent groups as that group has been last for the last three surveys with 150 or more respondents.

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.

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