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New Public Sector Ediscovery Innovation Report Shows an Industry in Transition

by Giulianno Lopez

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Change comes slowly in the legal industry – and in the public sector. But after two years of pandemic-caused disruption, once-temporary transformations are starting to take hold. The era of cloud-based ediscovery has emerged not only as a result of the recent pandemic but also due to the culmination of various technological advancements over the years.

Though many within the private sector have already migrated to the cloud, there is still a sizable contingent that has shown some reluctance due to antiquated perceptions of cloud technology. This is surprising given the known benefits of modern ediscovery technology, including scalability for increasing data volumes, ease of use, and data security.

While modernization remains a low priority for many public-sector legal professionals, when it comes to cloud-based ediscovery, there is broad recognition that legal technology is rapidly moving to the cloud, cementing its status as the present and future of the industry. Despite this, a considerable number of government offices still leverage outdated ediscovery software.

In our “2022 Ediscovery Innovation Report: Public Sector,” a clearer picture emerged of the future of ediscovery and, while not the original intention, also highlighted the confusion over what modern solutions can provide, which has caused inertia in the public sector.

Cloud Is the Future of Ediscovery, but There’s Hesitancy

A few key insights emerged from the data from the respondents that offer a clearer sense of the state of ediscovery within the public sector, including but not limited to:

Scalability and improved collaboration are encouraging a shift to the cloud, with a majority already using cloud technology

A supermajority of respondents sees scalability to handle increasing data volumes as the main advantage of moving to the cloud. Additionally, 69% of respondents already leverage cloud technology to share documents with collaborators. As attitudes toward the cloud continue to shift, so too does its place in the industry, as 97% of respondents envision it becoming the new industry standard within the next two years.

Despite the need for efficiency, modernization is surprisingly not a priority

Even though improving efficiency was cited as a top priority for respondents, modernizing their ediscovery software (which could help alleviate this pain point) ranked second to last. Further, one in five government offices is still leveraging software that hasn’t been updated for over three years, and more than half still share data via email, despite it often being cited as an insecure and inefficient channel of collaboration.

Utilizing out-of-date technology can lead to inevitable drawbacks, such as time-consuming workflows, difficulty managing complex data, and, most important, significant security risks.

Data security is still a concern, even as it’s widely known to be a strength of cloud-based ediscovery

More than half of respondents cited data security and privacy challenges as the main disadvantage of a cloud-based ediscovery solution, despite the government audience being evenly split between using on-premises software and SaaS, or software as a service, with both at 42%. This is still the case even though cybersecurity is a particular strength of cloud-based ediscovery (e.g., cloud solutions in AWS GovCloud help safeguard sensitive data, protect accounts and workloads, and strengthen identity management). 

Security concerns continue to be a sticking point, even though many are using less-secure channels, such as email, to share sensitive data. The lack of alignment highlights a need for improved education around the type of security cloud-based solutions can provide.

What Does This Tell Us? The Industry is Moving to the Cloud Despite the Public Sector’s Conflicted Feelings

Even with a clear consensus that the cloud is the future of ediscovery, confusion over what modern solutions can provide has given the public sector pause – despite cloud technology’s ability to alleviate the very issues (security, efficiency, data management, costs, etc.) that have plagued government offices. Without further adoption, these challenges will persist.

Despite these varying opinions, the transition of ediscovery to the cloud is not a question of if it will happen, but when for the public sector. Adopting cloud-based technology is becoming more appealing as the sizes of data sets involved in regulatory responses, litigation, and investigations continue to balloon and outpace the capabilities of outdated software. Government offices will need to improve efficiency, speed, and security to overcome the challenges they are currently encountering, such as staffing constraints, collecting and delivering ESI, and navigating clunky internal processes.

For those still on the fence, remember innovation within cloud technology will only continue to improve over time; that’s something that can’t be said for on-premises solutions. As a result, one thing is clear: In the minds of the public sector, whether it’s in 2022 or in the next couple of years, change is on the horizon.

To uncover the rest of the key findings, download your copy of the “2022 Ediscovery Innovation Report: Public Sector” today.