eDiscovery Daily Blog

“Summer” More Confident in eDiscovery Business Than Others: eDiscovery Trends

See what I did there?  :o)

The results are in from the Complex Discovery Summer 2017 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey, which concluded last week and (as was the case for the 2016 Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall surveys and the 2017 Winter and Spring surveys) the results 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.  As I’ve done for the past few surveys, I will primarily focus on trends over the past four surveys to see how the responses have varied from quarter to quarter and will take a look at a year over year comparison to the Summer 2016 survey.

The Summer 2017 Survey response period was initiated on July 6, and continued until registration of 100 responses by July 31 (this survey was capped at 101). Rob notes that this limiting of responders to 100 (or so) individuals is designed to create linearity in the number of responses for each quarterly survey.  So, in the future, if you want your voice heard, respond early!

Percentage of Provider Respondents Remains High: Of the types of respondents, 56.4% were either Software and/or Services Provider (39.6%) or Consultancy (16.8%) for over half of respondents as some sort of outsourced provider (over half of total respondents – I’m counting law firm respondents as consumers even though they can also be providers as well).  Law firm respondents comprised a majority of the remaining respondents with 34.6%.  No other type of respondents was over 3%.  Here’s a graphical representation of the trend over the past four quarters:

When comparing this year’s Summer survey to last year’s survey, the survey is less diverse than it was a year ago, especially with regard to the percentage of “Other” respondents.  Last year’s survey had 168 respondents, so it was before the cap of approximately 100 respondents was set:

Just Over Half of Respondents Consider Business to Be Good: Over half (53.4%, to be exact) of respondents rated the current general business conditions for eDiscovery in their segment to be good, with only 5% rating business conditions as bad.  Last quarter, those numbers were 52.9% and 6.7% respectively, so this quarter reflects slightly more bullish than last quarter, our second up quarter in a row.  Will the momentum continue?  We’ll see.  Here is the trend for the last four quarterly surveys:

When comparing against last year’s Summer survey, respondents this Summer are considerably more bullish as they were a year ago (only 47.6% rated the current general business conditions for eDiscovery in their segment to be good in 2016).  So, no summer doldrums this year, at least with regard to general business conditions:

Most Still Expect eDiscovery Business Conditions to be as Good or Better Six Months From Now: Most respondents (93.1%) expect business conditions will be in their segment to be the same or better six months from now (good, but down from last quarter’s 96.2%), and the percentage expecting business to be better fell to 43.6%.  Revenue (at combined 94.1% for the same or better) rose from the last quarter, while profit (combined 89.1%) dropped from last quarter.  Here is the profits trend for the last four quarterly surveys:

When compared against last year’s Summer survey, the distribution for profits six months from now in this year’s survey is comparable to last year’s Summer results with a 0.6% increase of respondents expecting higher profits and a 3.7% decrease of respondents expecting lower profits:

For the First Time, Increasing Types of Data is Most Impactful to eDiscovery Business: Increasing Types of Data was the top impactful factor to the business of eDiscovery over the next six months at 21.7% (almost twice the percentage as last quarter) with Increasing Volumes of Data and Budgetary Constraints next up at 20.8% each (so, one vote away from a three way tie).  Lack of Personnel was next up with 14.9%, followed by Data Security (11.9%) and Inadequate Technology (at 9.9%) bringing up the rear.  The graph below illustrates the distribution across the most recent four quarterly surveys.

A year ago, Increasing Volumes of Data edged out Budgetary Constraints as the most impactful to eDiscovery business (with Increasing Types of Data a distant fifth, less than half of this year’s percentage).  It will be interesting to see if the move up by Increasing Types of Data signals a trend or just a one-time anomaly:

Executive Leader and Management Respondents Comprise the Majority: Executive Leadership respondents dipped slightly down to 41.6% of respondents (from 44.2% last quarter), while Operational Management respondents rose to 34.6% – a total of 76.2% respondents from leadership and management roles.  Tactical Execution respondents dropped to 23.8%.  Here’s the breakdown of the last four quarters:

The survey is less distributed than last year, where the response groups were fairly even.

Again, Rob has published the results on his site here, which shows responses to additional questions not referenced here.  Rob has also provided his own observations about the results 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.

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.