CaseCentral – you know who they are, they supply the cartoons we run on Fridays (and some Thursdays) – have sent us their top five ediscovery related predictions for 2012…

1. The Cloud is here to stay
Many have realized that the cloud is simply another delivery model for many different solutions, from storage, to applications to complete computing infrastructures. And there can be significant economic and time-to-market benefits by using a cloud-based approach. Whether you call it software as a service (SaaS) or cloud-based, the adoption of cloud computing will accelerate in 2012. In October, 2011, a KPMG survey concluded, “the cloud is now,” saying “the vast majority of senior executives say their organizations have already moved at least some business activities to the cloud and expect 2012 investment to skyrocket, with some companies planning to spend more than a fifth of their IT budget on cloud next year.”

2. Big data and business intelligence meet ediscovery
According to IDC and EMC, the world’s information is now doubling every two years. In 2011 alone, we will create 1.8 zettabytes of new ESI. A zettabyte equals one billion terabytes. To put that in perspective, in 2009, the entire contents of the Internet was estimated at only half a zettabyte, which is equivalent to a stack of books stretching from the Earth to Pluto 10 times. (Yes but how many London buses? …Ed) Unsurprisingly, if we are creating this much data, it will increasingly end up in litigation, regulatory requests and more, so big data becomes an issue in ediscovery, too. To gain control over this growth of big data legal organizations will need to apply more business intelligence and big data analytics technologies and best practices to their eDiscovery processes.
 
3. New technology drives real changes in how data is identified, collected, processed, reviewed, analyzed and produced
As we head into 2012, we’ve been introduced to many disruptive technologies and approaches that will continue to impact our behaviors and workflow, including predictive coding, computer-aided review, automated data classification, dynamic concept search, data visualization, threading and automated data connectors. If you accept the arguments about big data and ediscovery (above), then in 2012 you are inevitably looking for technology and tools to help you stay ahead of the curve. While all of the technologies mentioned above will have an impact in 2012, the elephant in the room is the belief that manual review by humans is the standard and, therefore, more accurate than any computer or software application. However, the volume of ESI today makes it impossible for reviewers to effectively continue with the practice of linear review and research is continuing to show that technology-assisted review is at least as accurate and efficient as linear review.
 
4. Data collection continues to become more complex
In 2012, data collection will be more complex, not only because there will continue to be immensely more of it, but also because the number of locations from which to collect data will continue to increase. This challenge spans behind the firewall storage, email, archives, applications and computers, cloud-based business applications and systems, a dizzying array of social media and also mobile devices, including smart phones and tablet computers. As a result, more automated and intelligent identification, collection and processing tools will continue to gain mindshare. These tools will enable targeted identification, collection and automated processing in a forensically sound, legally defensible manner.

5. Continued maturation of corporate ediscovery processes
Most cases start off very quickly, often with little emphasis on planning prior to implementation. As corporate ediscovery processes continue to mature in 2012, best practices will involve identifying stakeholders; holding regular status meetings; managing timelines, workflow and production requirements; tracking and measuring progress; and standardizing on identified best practices. ediscovery is fundamentally a collaborative and time-sensitive process that involves multiple, geographically dispersed participants. From a technology perspective, more mature organizations will move towards utilizing centralized legal repositories to support a multi-matter ediscovery process and rely less on single matter and ad hoc management of individual cases. Benefits of this approach include leveraging work product, avoiding over-collection and protecting against inadvertent production.