Any attempt to write up the Nuix Information Governance Forum, held recently at Palm Beach in Florida, neatly illustrates the very point which was central to the discussions there – one ends up with an awful lot of data, in the form of notes taken at the sessions, which must be filtered and sifted to bring forward the short messages of lasting importance. My usual style, which is to make a story out of it with a narrative arc, a beginning, a middle and an end, with carefully-chosen words and endlessly-polished sentences, won’t work here, not least because it would take me till Christmas to write it. A different approach is required, and I have sacrificed narrative purity for focus on key points.
Eddie Sheehy, CEO of Nuix, opens the Nuix Information Governance Forum
As with my reports of the Asia eDiscovery Exchange, which preceded the Nuix event by a few days, I have broken this account down into sections, spreading both set of accounts across several days – for your sake as well as mine.
I have already written a brief note about the Forum. I will publish a set of photographs shortly.
Why is Nuix holding an Information Governance Forum?
This seems a sensible question to ask in opening. Why is a software company inviting a range of people to remote locations to talk about information governance?
This is not the first such event – I was one of those lucky enough to take part in the Nuix Exchange in Sydney last October, and I moderated an information governance panel for Nuix at LegalTech with Craig Ball, Nuix CTO Stephen Stewart and David Cowen of The Cowen Group. The exchange and the forum were not public events but (as their names imply) opportunities for discussion and the exchange of ideas between people whose work in corporations, law firms and in the provision of information services allow them to bring a range of informed views to the table.
Nuix began, 12 years ago, as a forensic investigations software company. It extended from that into electronic discovery, winning a reputation as an extremely fast means of weeding out the dross and getting to the information which matters – the evidence. It is a fairly logical, but non-trivial, extension of that to go back into the source of the time, expense and risk of eDiscovery by tackling the data volumes proactively – not just solving the discovery problems as they arise, nor even just reducing volumes in anticipation of prospective eDiscovery problems, but seeking out value in the information which remains once the data has been culled.
Information governance is more than merely the defensible deletion of valueless material. Gartner’s definition, taken from a blog post by Debra Logan which is worth reading in full, runs as follows:
Information governance is the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archival and deletion of information. It includes the processes, roles, standards and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.
It is derived from our definition of IT governance which ‘may be defined as the processes that ensure effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals’.
The references to “desirable behaviour” and to “enabling an organisation to achieve its goals” emphasise that deletion is merely one component of a company-wide set of policies involving multiple and differently-skilled people, policies which are servants to wider aims, and – almost incidentally – the use of the right technology.
Nuix has such technology and makes no bones about that and about its conviction that its tools are the best – one expects no less from a company with solutions to sell. It has wider ambitions, however, involving cultural change and the development of a new approach to what is frontier territory. We have been able to stand on the edge of the frontier by buying bigger and faster computers and, more recently, by moving to the cloud and pretending that we have solved the problem. We have not. We have simply deferred it and, like many deferred problems, it has grown almost beyond solving, or so it appears to many companies.
That is not a supportable approach. Every year adds terabytes of data which must, because they exist at all, be processed for every discovery demand. Quite apart from locked-in and hidden risk, what about the locked-in value? Technology alone will not provide the answers.
One recurring theme at the forum was the willingness to take risks – that is, to assess potential risks and to make informed decisions about them. I closed my part of the Sydney Exchange by emphasising that there is a very large gulf between informed risk-taking and recklessness. Too many people, usually lawyers, see no distinction. If some lawyers are part of the solution, others are very much part of the problem.
More follows shortly.