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One-Stop Shop for E-Discovery Data Processing
Looking to streamline operations and reduce cost, Clearwell unveils a bolstered, fully integrated platform.
Posted Sep 19, 2009
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Knowledge is power -- and having that power spread across too many platforms, or in too many hands, can be both disastrous and costly. Particularly in the field of law, ensuring the security of sensitive data legal and forensic teams must work with is paramount in order to avoid mistrials or false prosecution.

However, many teams are forced to use multiple e-discovery systems in order to filter, process, analyze, review, redact, and produce necessary documents. Consequently, Mountain View, Calif.-based e-discovery player Clearwell Systems unveiled Clearwell E-Discovery Platform V5.0, adding on pre-processing, review, and production modules to its core offering.  

According to Kamal Shah, vice president of product management and marketing for Clearwell, when a regulatory inquiry or internal investigation is triggered, generally there are multiple sources from which to pull data. Clearwell isn't involved in the data collection process, but believes that once the data is accumulated, his company has a great opportunity to help streamline operations. Shah says there are four separate tools typically used:

  • pre-processing/filtering;
  • processing/de-duplication/search;
  • legal review; and
  • production.

Enter in a new keyword, and expect to go through the entire ordeal again. "The process goes on and on several times, and as a result, enterprises face higher costs," Shah says. "It is expensive to move data between tools, you incur significant time delays, and have a greater risk of errors due to the manual processes used to move it. It's like the late 1990s when you carried three devices, an MP3, PDA, and cell phone -- today the iPhone provides all the functions in a single product."

Clearwell is now looking to mirror that affect when it comes to processing data. With version 5.0, the vendor is enhancing its core module -- processing and analysis -- while introducing processing, review, and production modules. To Shah, the real power and differentiation is in the platform itself. "The integration is bigger than the sum of the parts," he says. "This allows our customers to do more of the e-discovery process in a single product so users will use it more frequently."

Brian Hill, senior analyst at Forrester Research, explains that Clearwell is smart to offer a more comprehensive offering. He points out one of the top things enterprises report is the challenge they have in synchronizing, archiving, and recording using a variety of e-discovery applications. "The market is very fragmented, as there are 500-plus vendors participating in the space," he says. "That's an awful lot of potential handoffs to different applications."

In the past, Hill notes that many organizations would simply outsource different e-discovery applications to third parties, but with today's economy driving businesses to drive down costs those processes are coming back in-house. "There is a need to collaborate internally more effectively, especially between information technology and legal," he says. "The market need I think is most important, and that Clearwell is specifically addressing with this release, is expanding the scope of steps able to help enterprises with during the process. There are fewer handoffs ... and it is important that the company is focusing on an area that has the highest cost associated with the process."

Shah believes this business need will help his company expand its competitive footprint. "The cost, time, and complexity of moving data across applications is huge, and we strongly believe eliminating that need to do so can deliver significant cost savings as well as enable an iterative, dynamic, and defensible e-discovery process," he says.

Hill says he's interested to see how others will react. He notes that information management vendors are partnering, buying, or natively developing other e-discovery capabilities to meet enterprise needs. "They will have their work cut out for them," he states. "They may be less familiar with the legal market and with e-discovery in general, while Clearwell is clearly focused there. If information management vendors are smart, they'll continue to partner with companies like Clearwell unless they have that native expertise."

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