eDiscovery Daily Blog

Heat Wave or Cool Front? Results of the Summer 2019 eDiscovery Business Confidence Survey: eDiscovery Trends

It’s that time again!  I’m here to cover the results of the Summer 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.  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 fifteen surveys to date, from January 2016 to present.

The Summer 2019 Survey response period was initiated on July 1 and continued until registration of 173(!) responses last week, 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 Reclaim Their Normal Position: After a rare instance of another group (Law Firm respondents) leading in the Spring survey, we’re back to Software and/or Services Provider respondents as the top group with 31.8% of all respondents.  Law Firm respondents weren’t too far behind at 30.6% of all respondents (still higher than last time).  Corporation respondents were third at 15.6%, another high percentage of corporate respondents and Consultancy was fourth at 12.7%.  If you count law firms as providers (they’re technically both providers and consumers), they account for over three-quarters of respondents at 75.1% of total respondents, which is still the second lowest percentage of provider respondents (higher than only last quarter’s 72.2%).  So, expanding the respondents has still continued diversify the responses somewhat.  Here’s a graphical representation of the trend over the fifteen surveys to date:

So, how confident is the largest group of respondents ever in eDiscovery business confidence?  See below.

Most Respondents Consider Business to Be Good (Barely): After the lowest ever number of respondents last time considered business to be good, we saw a 9.8 point rebound to 50.9% of respondents.  While that’s higher than last quarter, it’s lower than the last two summers.  41.6% of respondents consider business to be normal, so the good and normal numbers pretty much flip-flopped from last quarter.  7.5% of respondents rated business conditions as bad, which is comparable to last summer, but higher than two summers ago.  So, was last quarter’s lower current business conditions rating an anomaly?  Hmmm…  Here is the trend over the fifteen 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, that’s a drop of 1.8% as those expecting worse business conditions rose to 4.0% (from 2.2% last quarter), while the percentage expecting business to be the same fell to 56.1%.   More than half of respondents also expected the same on revenues and profits – 51.4% and 57.2% respectively.  When looking at previous summers, this summer reflects the lowest percentage of respondents expecting higher profits at 31.2% (only Winter 2019 was lower at 28%).  Great scott!  Here is the profits trend over the fifteen surveys to date:

Will the trend toward lower future profits predictions continue?  We’ll see.

Cost, Cost, Cost!  Budgetary Constraints Considered to Be Most Impactful to eDiscovery Business: Tag, you’re it!  Budgetary Constraints and Increasing Volumes of Data continued their almost reliable flip-flop between the top two positions, with Budgetary Constraints identified as the top factor this time with 27.2%.  Increasing Volumes of Data dropped back down to second at 22.5%. Increasing Types of Data was once again third at 20.8%, followed by Lack of Personnel at 12.7%, Data Security at 11.6% and Inadequate Technology (once again) bringing up the rear at 5.2%, the lowest number ever for any factor in the history of the survey.  Does this mean most people are happy with their technology?  Hmmm…  The graph below illustrates the distribution over the fifteen surveys to date:

Increasing Volumes of Data, Budgetary Constraints and (now) Increasing Types of Data continue to consistently be at the top of the most impactful factors quarter after quarter.

“Managing” to Be Somewhat Even in Distribution of Respondents: Operational Management respondents were the top group at 37.6%, almost it’s highest level ever (other than 38.9 percent in Fall 2016).  Tactical Execution respondents were second at 35.3% and Executive Leadership respondents were last again at 27.2%, though almost 3 percent higher than last quarter.  Here’s the breakdown over the fifteen surveys to date:

It’s clear that the more respondents we get, the more diverse the results with a much greater influence from the “rank and file” (i.e., managers and technicians).

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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